Awards were part of Pharmacy Appreciation Month campaign to celebrate profession’s adaptability during pandemic
Students at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy (LDFP) had an impressive showing in national awards presented by the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns (CAPSI), with two students placing third in individual awards and two LDFP health campaigns placing first.
Arnold Ruste (2T3) placed third in the national CAPSI-Pharmachoice Advice for Life Competition, which has students deliver a presentation on any health topic, and Peter Zhang (2T1) placed third in the national Student Literary Challenge, which requires students to submit a paper on the health topic of their choosing. Both placed first in the local competitions before representing U of T at the national level.
Kristina Miclat, a 2T2 PharmD student and Toronto’s Senior CAPSI representative, says that she was unsure at the beginning of the school year about how engaged students would be in extracurricular activities in a year of virtual learning and pandemic-related challenges. But the turnout for the local awards held in the fall, which also included competitions that did not compete at the national level, was similar to that of previous years.
“The challenges of this year didn’t hold students back from wanting to participate in furthering their professional development,” she says.
“It’s been awesome to watch, and it makes me really proud to be a UofT pharmacy student.”
One of CAPSI’s key goals is to further students’ professional development, and Miclat says it was important to continue offering the competitions and awards virtually to give students the opportunity to practice their skills outside of the classroom.
“It’s great that we learn as much as we do in the class setting, but it’s also great to have these additional opportunities to apply them,” she says. “As a student, it’s so rewarding and valuable to be recognized and see that your work is paying off, as well as develop yourself professionally and get feedback from the faculty judges.”
CAPSI National also recognized U of T and the LDFP with the Canadian Pharmacist Association Award of Professionalism, which is given to the school with the most organized and professional Pharmacist Appreciation Month (PAM) 2020 campaign, and first place in the International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation award for the local representatives’ 2020 campaign focused on diabetes and healthy living.
Miclat says these awards were particularly meaningful because they recognized campaigns that took place in March 2020, when the pandemic was first declared and many events were suddenly cancelled.
“Pharmacists and pharmacy students are really adaptable, and a lot of student clubs were able to quickly adapt to an online environment, which says a lot about their resiliency,” says Miclat. “These awards show that the Faculty is producing great student leaders, which says a lot about the future of our profession.”
Pharmacy Appreciation Month recognizes profession’s resiliency
The national awards announcement was just one part of a busy PAM campaign at the LDFP. CAPSI and other student clubs led a number of learning, outreach and entertaining virtual activities throughout March.
“This was a great opportunity to reflect on all of the accomplishments that pharmacy students and professionals have accomplished over the last year, and the barriers the profession has overcome,” says Miclat.
“Pharmacy really adapted to the changes in the world, and we embraced our role as available health care professionals throughout the pandemic.”
The Ontario Pharmacist Association (OPA), presenting sponsor of the Student Support Fund, partnered with CAPSI student leaders, to coordinate daily activities in celebration of the profession.
The month kicked off with a week of virtual speakers, including Angeline Ng, VP of Professional Affairs at OPA, who shared her gratitude and reflected on the accomplishments of the pharmacy profession through the pandemic. Dean Lisa Dolovich, Nancy Lum-Wilson, CEO and Registrar of the Ontario College of Pharmacists, and several students also spoke throughout the week.
The campaign also featured discussions of various health topics, a social media campaign drawing attention to health disparities in marginalized communities, and an interprofessional event focused on breast cancer. CAPSI also hosted a well-attended symposium where Professor Anna Taddio spoke about COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
“The turnout and engagement are a great reflection of how committed our students are to learning more and ensuring that they’re ready for questions from the community,” says Miclat. “Despite how busy students might be, they still want to prioritize learning outside of the classroom because they recognize that this is an important topic that we can help tackle in the community.”
Miclat says the support of OPA was critical for PAM to run successfully. “Their support, through their own events and sponsoring others, means a lot,” says Miclat. “It’s important for students to get that early exposure through the OPA to being advocates for the pharmacy profession.”
Susan Drodge, Director of Advancement, echoes Miclat’s appreciation. “Thank you to OPA for supporting Pharmacy Appreciation Month 2021, and thank you to the support of CAPSI leaders and student sponsors for their ongoing advocacy for the profession,” she says. “Most importantly, thank you to pharmacists for your inspiring dedication and leadership – we appreciate you!”
CAPSI National and Regional Winners
3rd place national CAPSI- Pharmachoice Advice for Life Competition
3rd place National Student Literary Challenge
U of T Recipient of Guy Genest Passion for Pharmacy Award
Elaine Nguyen & Kristina Miclat
2019-2020 winning PAM campaign
Jenna Melanson & Helen Liu
2020 Winning IPSF Health Campaign
Patient Interview Competition UofT Winner
Over the Counter Competition U of T Winner
Chelsea Cao, Chelsea Alder, Adam Brown and Laurel Liang
Pharmafacts Bowl U of T Winners
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