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Medicines Clinic a powerful learning tool

Thursday, 30 July 2015

At the Medicines Clinic
Getting in on the action: Pharmaceutical Society president Dale Griffiths assists student Giulia Butler as she helps Grahame Cattermole learn more about his medicines.

The Medicines and Health Literacy Clinic is such a valuable practical learning opportunity that fourth-year student Peter Wadea jumped at the chance to be involved recently.

Peter has been lucky enough to participate in a previous clinic, so when he received an invitation to the recent clinic at a Dunedin rest home he quickly indicated his interest. "I always jump at the opportunity to use those skills," Peter says.

Communication is part of the undergraduate pharmacy degree programme at Otago and Peter says students have the opportunity to learn the knowledge in class, but the opportunity to practice skills in the real world is valuable.

Peter was one of several fourth-year students who participated in the clinic run at the Summerset Retirement Village together with school staff and Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand president, Dale Griffiths.

A number of village residents took the opportunity to bring their medicines along to the clinic and student Naomi Lee says it was insightful to see what issues patients were interested in. "I think something might be important, but for them it might be something quite different," Naomi says.

Peter and Naomi met with resident Nola Gillies who was hoping to learn more about the medication her GP had prescribed.

A patient at the Medicines Clinic
Students Peter Wadea and Naomi Lee help educate Nola Gillies about the medicines she is prescribed.

Another resident, Grahame Cattermole, was worried about potential interactions of the large number of medicines he is on, but was reassured after meeting with Mr Griffiths and student Giulia Butler. "They have emphasised how some of them [the medicines] work together in a way that I wasn’t aware of. I'm really, really pleased that I came," Mr Cattermole says.

Giulia has previously worked in a pharmacy and says she was not surprised at the large amount of medicines most of the residents were on.  However, she found the clinic very different to learning in a classroom. "You are trying to remember what you learnt and apply it to the situation."

Mr Griffiths decided to join students at the clinic because he was going to be in Dunedin on that particular day and he is particularly interested in ensuring pharmacy students have access to valuable learning experiences. "Hopefully this has shown to students that they have knowledge which is valuable to people and that patients want access to that knowledge," Mr Griffiths says.

"I'm sure they will come out buzzing with the potential of what they can do."

Of the sessions he was involved in, Mr Griffiths says the patients offered very useful insights to the students about their concerns and what was important to them, which often differs to what the students expected would be of concern.

Mr Cattermole says he was happy to be involved in the programme.

"I'm a firm believer that students can't learn unless they have real life people to practice on and if they practice on me, I don’t mind."

Article written by Liane Topham-Kindley for Pharmacy Today, July 2015.