Portraits of PharmD students Hamid, Fadi and Yousif

Second year Pharmacy students Hamid Moeini (left), Fadi Alkass and Yousif Jaheinsha, creators of the Pharmacist: Pandemic, Pills, Patients web series.

A new video series created by three second-year PharmD students at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy is exploring the experiences and perspectives of pharmacy professionals around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. The series – called Pharmacist: Pandemic, Pills, Patients – highlights the different challenges pharmacists around the world faced, but also the similarities in the profession, regardless of location.

“The pharmacists we spoke to all had the same goals. They all wanted to advocate for their profession, advance pharmacy practice and show the world what pharmacists are capable of,” says Yousif Jaheinsha, one of the students involved in the initiative, dubbed PharmGlobalRx. “Although we were talking about difficult topics, the pharmacists always had a positive attitude and outlook focused on helping their patients.”

Jaheinsha, along with peers Fadi Alkass and Hamid Moeini, recently received a Global U of T COVID-19 Student Engagement Award to create the eight-episode documentary series. They are hoping to reach pharmacy professionals and students as well as a more general audience to create a better understanding of pharmacists’ roles in health care globally.

Watch the first episode of Pharmacist: Pandemic, Pills, Patients

“Oftentimes, the public or maybe even other pharmacists are unaware of the role that pharmacists play in health care systems,” says Jaheinsha. “Considering the global pandemic, we thought it was important to showcase what pharmacists can do to help patients alleviate the pressures on other health care professionals such as physicians and nurses.”

To ensure their series had a global perspective, the students searched social media, as well as government and health care websites in other countries to find potential pharmacists to interview. In the end, they spoke with ten pharmacists from seven different countries about a range of topics related to pharmacy practice during the pandemic.

The last episode will focus on mental health of health care professionals during the pandemic, which the group found to be particularly important. “Pandemic or not, pharmacists have to go to work and serve the public,” says Moeini. “They were under lot of pressure, especially on their mental health, and we wanted to highlight that.”

Students gained “new perspectives and insights” from international pharmacists

All three students valued the opportunity to speak with and learn from the experienced pharmacists, which helped them to gain new perspectives and an interest in global health. “I think some of the best projects are the ones where you’re doing something you know about, but you’re also learning,” says Alkass. “We were already familiar with what Canadian pharmacists do, but it was great to learn from all of these pharmacists globally and adding that global component took the project to the next level.”

Jaheinsha adds, “It really provided perspectives and insights I would never get to hear if we hadn’t taken the initiative to do this project.”

The COVID-19 Student Engagement Award was essential for the group to rent and purchase equipment and software to create a high-quality video project. They also note that the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy supported their initiative, helping them to connect with international pharmacists and allowing them to film some segments (with safety precautions) in the Pharmacy building. Moeini, Jaheinsha and Alkass are grateful that they had an opportunity and the support to raise awareness about the pharmacy profession while most other learning opportunities have been paused.

The three students are planning to work together on the PharmGlobalRx initiative after the documentary series is complete to continue advocating for and raising awareness about global health and pharmacy practice.

“Typically, as a student, sometimes projects like these seem bigger than what you think you can do,” says Alkass, “but the Faculty and university really helped us do something great with our time here.”

Visit the PharmGlobalRx Youtube page to watch all recent episodes of Pharmacist: Pandemic, Pills, Patients.

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By Eileen Hoftyzer

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