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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 07 | April 5, 2001

Students counsel community groups

Students are astonished at what they're capable of in innovative course

by Hilary Thomson staff writer

It's good medicine and it's easy to swallow -- that's what community groups are saying about health-care presentations by Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences undergraduates.

To earn 35 per cent of marks in a course called Professional Practice II, second-year students in groups of four are instructed to undertake a communications project as if they were a branch of a pharmaceutical consulting company.

Students are connected with disease support societies, businesses, pharmacies or other groups to provide pharmaceutical and health-care information in the form of reference guides, booklets, videos or workshops.

"This is the first time students engage in hands-on pharmacy counselling work," says Pharmaceutical Sciences lecturer Colleen Brady who instructs the course. "We've found they can handle a lot more than we traditionally give them -- students are astonished by what they can actually do."

The course aims to build students' skills in communication, project management and teamwork.

"The profession is changing to include more consultation with patients," says Brady. "Being in a dispensary counting out pills is only part of the job -- community groups are hungry for accessible advice."

One group of students, working with staff at the pharmacy at Safeway of Canada's Kingsway location, recently gave a presentation to about 25 seniors with diabetes.

The group, who dubbed themselves the Diabetx Consulting Group, offered information and demonstrations on complications of the disease such as kidney and eye problems. They engaged the audience with a diabetes trivia game and also created a video patterned after a news report about new diabetes research.

"The audience thought it was great and very entertaining," says Shirley Yeats, a health-care counselor at the store's pharmacy who, along with pharmacy manager Munira Karim, served as project partners.

"The hardest part was breaking down the scientific language of current research data into understandable information," says group member Hee-Sung Hong.

Talking directly to people who really wanted to learn about their disease and feeling helpful were some of the project's highlights, according to group members Kal Biling, Jessie Lau and Jenn Stotyn.

Brady evaluates students' reports to determine research skills and reviews an in-class presentation. She and community partners assess ability to meet deadlines, professional conduct and overall quality of the project.

Other project topics included smoking cessation, eating disorders, cholesterol and effectiveness of Chinese herbs. Brady uses a lottery system to match student groups to projects. Students reprise their presentations to classmates at the end of the course.

The majority of the 130-140 students who graduate from the faculty each year go on to community pharmacy practice according to Marguerite Yee, the faculty's associate dean, Undergraduate Programs.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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