Portrait of Fourth Year PharmD Student Tahani Dakak standing in front of Queen's Park

Tahani Dakkak spoke at the Queen Elizabeth Scholar reception at Queen’s Park about the value of international experiences to future career

Tahani Dakkak, a fourth-year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) student at U of T’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, has had a long interest in international education, with placements abroad during her master’s degree and current pharmacy program. In mid-October, she spoke at a reception for Queen Elizabeth II scholars at Queen’s Park, home to Ontario’s Parliament, about her international experiences and their importance to her education and future practice.

“I feel honored to be part of a community of peers and scholars who have travelled abroad to create a lasting impact,” says Dakkak. “Through hard work and determination, every individual, when given the right opportunities, can make a tangible difference in communities”

Dakkak earned an undergraduate degree in biology at Western University, followed by a master’s degree in global health management, which included a three-month placement in Kampala, Uganda, in 2018. During this degree, she received a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Scholarship, which supports learners undertaking international education and professional development opportunities, for her work setting up a medical funding program at the Kampala National Referral Hospital to fund medical tests and medications for patients who can’t afford to pay. More than 90% of patients helped to date are under the age of 10.

With an interest in achieving health equity, Dakkak started her PharmD degree at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy in 2019 and is now in her final year of study. She has also been working on completing the certificate in Global Studies in Pharmacy offered through the Faculty.

In mid-October, Dakkak was selected from thousands of scholars by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, to speak at a reception for Queen Elizabeth II scholars, dignitaries, politicians, and business leaders about her experience in Uganda. Just a few days later, she flew to Japan to start an international advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) rotation.

PharmD student Tahani Dakkak standing with Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell
Tahani Dakkak with Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell

Pharmacy and global health

The six-week international rotation at Ritsumeikan University, near Kyoto, Japan is mostly focused on research into improving safety of anti-inflammatory medications. She will also have the opportunity to give lectures at Ritsumeikan’s faculty of pharmacy and do brief rotations in local hospitals to gain exposure to pharmacy practice in Japan.

Dakkak was excited to undertake an international pharmacy rotation and believes that these experiences provide valuable learning opportunities and new perspectives for students. 

“Working abroad has allowed me to build a global network and enhance my adaptability and self-reliance. It gave me the opportunity to discover my potential as a young global leader who wants to be an agent of change,” says Dakkak. “Through connecting with other communities, you gain exposure to the unique issues they face and learn how they solve these problems and what we can bring back home to use.”

After she graduates from the PharmD program, Dakkak hopes to combine her interests and education in pharmacy and global health to work in the pharmaceutical policy field, specifically in improving access to essential medicines.

“Having access to medications should be a basic human right, and cost shouldn’t be a barrier. I hope that I can take part in developing better policies that can improve accessibility to medications and quality health care,” she says. “I aspire to use my pharmacy education, knowing what medications are essential and cost effective, and my global health education by knowing the factors that impact health to make medication and health care more accessible globally.”

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