Building strong connections in Mindemoya

Friday, February 10, 2023

Lauren Dayes (Rx2022) spent her final days as a Waterloo Pharmacy student completing her patient care rotations in Mindemoya on Manitoulin Island. During her rotation she worked with a family health team, the community’s local hospital and a community pharmacy.

Lauren Dayes standing by cliff.

Lauren Dayes on the Cup and Saucer Trail on Manitoulin Island.

“Many clinical placements are in larger cities, but I realized that Mindemoya offered the unique opportunity to develop my skills in a more rural setting. I wanted to give myself a different environment to practice in,” Dayes says.

She also spent time in the nearby community of Gore Bay and working at a local Guardian pharmacy.

“I worked with patients who were recently discharged from the hospital, supporting continuity of care during transitions. My time was spent problem solving if patients ran into issues with their new medications and making sure their treatment plans were up to date across different systems,” she says.

Dayes experienced working as an independent pharmacist for the first time, trusting her skills while learning how to communicate effectively.

“With this specific placement, you’re in the same community for the full six months, going back and forth between sites. I built strong connections by caring for the same patients and working with the same providers,” Dayes reflects.

“It was also my first time working in an area where a significant proportion of the population is Indigenous. I had the opportunity to participate in clinic days at the M’Chigeeng Health Centre and learn the value of community-focused care from some truly amazing providers.”

This type of structure aligns perfectly with the Community of Practice model the School aims to achieve for the student experience.

Overcoming Challenges

“With most rotations, your preceptor is usually a pharmacist but since I was in a smaller, rural community, one of my two preceptors was a physician. Although the learning curve at the beginning was steep, I had to really push myself to find opportunities. This gave me a lot of independence and turned out to be one of the reasons this rotation was so incredible,” Dayes says.

Another challenge Dayes faced was learning how hard it could sometimes be for patients to find or access care.

“Wait times are high because there are only so many care facilities in rural communities. When patients do come in, a lot of the time they need a higher level of care. Sometimes you find you are stretched to the limit of what you can do,” she says.

A major lesson for Dayes was that she learned how important it is for a pharmacist to work to their full scope to help patients access more resources.

“There is so much more we can do as pharmacists. It is important to utilize all the clinical tools we spend four years learning. It is rewarding when you get to see all of it being put into your work,” she says.

“In rural settings where there is very little specialist care available, your work makes a difference.”

Advice to future students

Dayes gave two important pieces of advice to students who wish to do their rotation in Mindemoya:

  • During your placement make sure to enjoy your time so as not to burn yourself out. The community is so welcoming and open to having students, everyone is willing to help you, show you around and recommend outdoor activities or places to check out!
  • Take every opportunity that is handed to you. Sometimes there are experiences that don’t seem or sound like they are pharmacy related, but they end up teaching you skills that in one way or another will apply to your work or your life.