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Students lead the charge to tell politicians that pharmacists can do more for Ontarians

Monday, June 4, 2018

Ontario’s provincial election is on June 7th, and University of Waterloo pharmacy students have a message for politicians: pharmacists can help reduce wait times in the province’s hospitals and emergency rooms.

First year pharmacy student George Daskalakis and his peers want Ontario’s politicians to consider expanding pharmacist’s scope of practice so that pharmacists can perform additional duties and take some strain off crowded physician offices and hospitals. The students are encouraging members of the public to support the Ontario Pharmacist Association’s campaign Pharmacists Care

The campaign provides email letters that members of the public can send to several politicians: their local Member of Provincial Parliament, the Minister of Health and Long Term Care, the Premier of Ontario, and the current candidates in the provincial election. The letters address four areas where pharmacists can play an increased role in patient health: minor ailments, vaccines, point-of-care testing, and medicinal cannabis.

“We’ve encouraged every student at Waterloo Pharmacy and at the University of Toronto School of Pharmacy to send letters themselves and to convince three other people outside of school to do so,” said Daskalakis. “And now we’re aiming beyond that – we want people across Ontario to send letters and help us push for this change.” The students created a video about the campaign to help with these efforts.

In provinces like Alberta and New Brunswick, pharmacists can prescribe medications for minor ailments like athlete’s foot, poison ivy, urinary tract infections, and more: this is the service Daskalakis and his peers would like to see in Ontario. Pharmacists have a minimum of six to eight years of post-secondary education and are medication therapy experts, well-suited to providing consultations for minor conditions like these.

With over 15,000 views on Facebook, the student’s video message is gaining a lot of attention in the pharmacy community. It has been shared and supported by the Ontario Pharmacists Association, the Canadian Pharmacists Association, and Pharmacy Practice Plus, a widely read pharmacy publication. The video has even been incorporated into the Pharmacists Care website itself.

“Elections don’t come very often,” says Daskalakis. “We need to get the message out to the public and our politicians. It’s important to share this video on Facebook so that Ontarians are aware that pharmacists can do more for their health care.”

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