Waterloo Pharmacy students organize national student conference

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

By Heidi Fernandes (Rx2017)

On January 6 Professional Development Week (PDW) 2016 welcomed hundreds of pharmacy students from across Canada to beautiful Niagara Falls. For the first time in history, the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy had the honour of hosting PDW 2016, an annual conference for the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns.

The theme this year was “Soaring to New Heights,” addressing the new heights pharmacy students will be reaching as they enter a profession that is improving patient outcomes through the provision of clinical services.

Throughout the day, students expanded their knowledge by partaking in presentations delivered by a variety of today’s pharmacy leaders and innovators. Topics included new roles for pharmacists in addiction management, medication literacy, and healthcare technology, to name a few! Many University of Waterloo professors and alumni, such as Dr. Cynthia Richard, Dr. Jeff Nagge, and alumni Danielle Paes, graciously volunteered as conference speakers as well.

Dr Cynthia Richard speaking on the PDW stage.

Clinical lecturer Cynthia Richard addressed students as a speaker on the topic of natural health products. Photo: Aamer Kapadia (www.studio95.ca).

PDW 2016 also offered its inaugural Debate where representatives from every Canadian pharmacy school collaborated as two distinct teams to discuss the pros and cons of specialty pharmacies versus traditional pharmacies and their dispensing of novel biologics and designer drugs.  

The Keynote was delivered by comedian Kate Davis who stirred up laughs by addressing humour in the workplace and work-life balance. The Motivational Talk was presented by Paralympian Jeff Adams. Jeff discussed his experiences overcoming barriers and challenges to become a world champion.

Two teams of five students each sit behind tables and debate pharamcy issues.

Teams with members representing each pharmacy school in Canada faced off in PDW's first ever debate. Photo: Aamer Kapadia (www.studio95.ca).

The conference kicked off with a bang as delegates were welcomed to Canada’s own Las Vegas at the Opening Gala. Students from all 10 pharmacy schools in Canada had the opportunity to mingle throughout various social activities that included an Oktoberfest Culture Night, the mock beauty pageant “Canada’s Next Top Pharmacist”, and the Snow Ball Closing Gala. Students were able to connect with industry leaders and professional organizations at the annual Health Fair. Pharmacy schools also went head-to-head facing each other in our pharmacy trivia test, the Pharmafacts Bowl, to win the ultimate bragging rights.

Delegates, sponsors, and speakers were extremely impressed at the calibre of PDW 2016.

I truly enjoyed the opportunity to attend PDW 2016 and to have a role in the conference.” said Phil Emberley, Director of Pharmacy Innovation at CPhA. "I had for some years hoped to attend in my capacity because I believe students are the future of our profession; my experiences in the last week fully lived up to my expectations.”

We would like to thank Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and TEVA Pharmaceuticals, our Diamond Sponsors, as well as the many sponsors without whom PDW 2016 would not be possible. In addition, the conference would not be a success if it weren’t for the dedication of 13 individuals that have been hard at work planning for the past three years.

PDW 2016 Planning Committee:

  • Sumaira Hasan & Nandita Chhaniyara, Co-Chairs
  • Jenn Mackenzie & Mikaela Klie, Educations & Competitions Co-Directors
  • Jessica Leung & Hannah Tse, Logistics Co-Directors
  • Mackenzie Heist, Social Director
  • Heidi Fernandes, Marketing & Communications Director
  • Frédéric Bourgoin, Bilingual Director
  • Andrew Chang, Sponsorship Director
  • Uma Paranthaman, Finance Director
  • Caitlin Holt, Interprofessional & Administrative Director
  • Adam Ling, Webmaster
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