Pharmacy students use candy to teach kids about medication safety

Who would have thought of using candy in a medical program? UWaterloo co-op students, of course!

Katie and Sarah presenting

Last semester, Katie Gammage and Sarah Blythe worked for the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) in Ottawa. While they had their fair share of office work, the two women also got the chance to go out in the community and educate young people about medication safety.

As co-op students at the Canadian Pharmacists Association, Katie and Sarah both participated in the Kids and Medicine program. This initiative is meant to help pharmacists promote the safe use of medications and explain the role of the pharmacist to children in Kindergarten to Grade 3. As Sarah explains,

With the increase of misuse of prescription and non-prescription medicine it is important for children to learn that while medicine can make you feel better, it is also bad for you when it is not needed.

The UWaterloo students presented to Kindergartners at Vincent Massey Public School, conveniently located beside the Ottawa Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

For Katie, working with children was an especially rewarding experience.

The children were excited to learn, I think our white lab coats really grabbed their attention! Usually as a pharmacist you primarily interact with the parents but it was great to hear questions directly from the kids.

In addition to using colourful visuals and interactive games, the pharmacy students played the “Candy vs. Medicine” game with the kids. This taught the Kindergartners how to identify medicine that was safe and potentially harmful.

The content of the presentation included the pharmacist’s role, not sharing medicine with friends, how medicine can sometimes look like candy and not taking anything from strangers.

Katie and Sarah holding presentation board

In addition to her classroom outreach, Sarah published Live Links while working for the Canadian Pharmacists Association – a monthly newsletter summarizing new research articles on pharmacy practice. Katie created content for The Translator, a quarterly online publication showcasing the policy implications of new pharmacy-related health care research.

For Katie, interacting with young people has had a significant impact on her future career ambitions.

Working on these projects has made me want to focus on more patient education in my future career and improve how I communicate with my patients.

Sarah feels the same way about her research and co-op experiences.

There are pharmacists in Canada and around the world who are going above and beyond for their patients by offering memory clinics, running anti-arrhythmic clinics and breast feeding clinics. I one day hope to follow in their steps and ensure my patients have access to the health care they need.

Not a bad impression to leave on the future generation of our society. 

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