In June, second year pharmacy students successfully presented two motions at the Ontario Pharmacists Association’s (OPA) Annual General Meeting (AGM). Rx2021s Bradley Grightmire and George Daskalakis introduced the motions to further strengthen OPA’s relationship with pharmacy students. OPA is the province’s pharmacy advocacy group; it serves as a resource to pharmacists and a voice for the profession in Ontario.
“We proposed both that OPA increases its presence at Ontario pharmacy schools through diversifying their offerings of education and networking events and that OPA establish new student representative positions,” explains Daskalakis. “A committee of students with representatives from both of Ontario’s pharmacy schools will ensure that student perspectives are considered on a variety of matters impacting the pharmacy profession and will strengthen OPA’s connection to future pharmacists.”
Both Grightmire and Daskalakis had previous experiences with OPA – Grightmire through a co-op term he completed at the organization and Daskalakis through a student leadership position. These positive experiences helped motivate them to prepare motions that would increase OPA’s engagement with pharmacy students.
To do this, the students submitted a motion to OPA for review prior to the organization’s AGM. They worked with OPA staff to refine their motion, splitting it into two. They were then invited to elaborate on the motions at the AGM in June.
“It was nerve-wracking to stand up and present our motions, but it was a valuable experience. We understood the importance of a strong advocacy body for our profession, and we wanted to ensure both that OPA has sustainable ways of engaging students and that our students see what there is to gain from getting involved in student advocacy,” says Grightmire.
As the pharmacy profession in Ontario changes, advocacy plays a key role in expanding pharmacist services and spreading awareness to the general public about the role pharmacists can play in their health.
“Engaging in advocacy isn’t complicated – you just have to put yourself out there,” reflects Grightmire. “It can seem daunting at first, but once you get started you’ll see how collaboration – sharing ideas, being engaged with your profession – can lead to success.”
As a start to OPA increasing its presence with pharmacy students, Mike Cavanagh, the recent chair of OPA’s board of directors, gave a talk at the School on Thursday. Cavanagh’s talk covered a range of topics from common ailment prescribing to technology in pharmacy.
“The School’s student OPA committee is very excited by the turnout at this event,” says Daskalakis. “It was definitely the largest turnout we’ve had for an OPA event and that’s because this is exactly what students want to hear.”