Portrait of MSc student Andrea McCraken

Masters of Pharmaceutical Sciences student Andrea McCracken discusses how her research can help address the medication management needs of post-secondary students taking psychotropic medications.

What is your academic background and why is your area of research important?

I previously earned my honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto Mississauga specializing in Biology and I am currently pursuing a Masters in Pharmaceutical Sciences in the in the Clinical, Social and Administrative Pharmaceutical Sciences (CSAP) field at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.

My research interests involve supporting interventions and collaborative practices that can improve health care delivery and medication management in pharmacy, specifically with emerging adults (aged 18-24). My research involves the exploration of post-secondary students’ psychotropic medication management needs that could be addressed by pharmacists. Medication use can be challenging on its own and there is little information about the experiences and needs of post-secondary students with psychotropic medication management. Identifying these needs from post-secondary students’ perspectives will help determine psychotropic medication management challenges that could be addressed by pharmacists.

Pharmacists play an important role in helping people maintain or improve their health through better medication management. Post-secondary students are struggling to find answers to psychotropic medication management related questions and experiences, and I hope this research builds the foundation of bridging that gap through pharmacists’ unique expertise. 

What led you to your current Supervisor’s research group?

I have been following Dr. Lisa Dolovich’s work over the years, specifically her work in enhancing patient health through management of medication in pharmacy. Dr. Lisa Dolovich’s area of research aligns well with my research interest of enhancing emerging adults’ patient care through awareness of the pharmacist role with psychotropic medication management in the community. We share similar goals in that we are passionate about improving delivery of medication management through pharmacist-integrated interventions.

What are some of the challenges you had to overcome within your research?

Learning something new, whether that is a new skill, sport, or in my case, how to apply qualitative theory to conduct research, can bring challenges. Going in, I knew I had to spend quite a bit of time researching my topic and then finalize my research objectives and goals. It did, however, take longer than I expected which gave me an appreciation of research rigour. 

Having my supervisor and committee members individually bring a wealth of experience in mental health, pharmacy, and youth research has helped tremendously in focusing my research and aligning my methodology. In addition, courses offered at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy such as PHM1142 Methods for Patient-Focused and Pharmacy Practice Research and PHM1137 Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods in Health Sciences really provided an open and engaging environment for me to explore and learn skills not only from the instructors but also my peers.

How do you see your current research playing a role in your career?

I see my research shaping my long-term professional goal, which is to support innovation in improving healthcare delivery and management in pharmacy through leading the implementation of new programs. 

What do you like to do when you are not working on research?

When I am not working on research, I can almost always be found with a coffee in my hand cheering on the Toronto Maple Leafs! I love spending evenings attending live music events (or virtual concerts for now!), playing badminton or trying out a new restaurant in the city.

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