My name is Valerie Andres, and I am a third-year pharmacy student at the University of Waterloo. I had the incredible opportunity to work within the Professional and Regulatory Affairs (P&R) department at the National Association of Pharmacy and Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) over the past four months.
What were some tasks and projects that you worked on?
The P&R department supports the pharmacy regulatory authorities (PRAs) in various ways and my role as a co-op student allowed me to be a part of this important work. For example, I analyzed literature and helped draft reports for the ongoing work surrounding the National Drug Schedules. I was also tasked with updating the scope of practice charts for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Through this, I stayed up to date with the changes and expansions in the scope of practice of pharmacy professionals in the evolving healthcare landscape. Additionally, I supported the Pharmacy Practice Advisor in answering queries related to the practice of pharmacy.
The various departments at NAPRA worked together to support my learning. I had the opportunity to shadow the Registration and Licensure department, where I witnessed the behind-the-scenes activities of Pharmacists’ Gateway Canada. Near the end of my placement, I held an information session for NAPRA staff on minor ailment prescribing in Ontario. I also created a presentation on concepts I’d learned during my experience with NAPRA and shared it with students from other pharmacy-related organizations during a virtual student-exchange session. During this session, I had the chance to learn more about these organizations from other students. In summary, I undertook various tasks that collectively improved both my communication and time management skills.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
Throughout my co-op term, I participated in team meetings, discussions, and brainstorming sessions where I could share my insights and ideas. This collaborative environment allowed me to learn from experienced professionals and contribute my own perspective to ongoing projects. Witnessing the processes involved in shaping the profession of pharmacy in Canada has to be one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had as a pharmacy student. Overall, being a part of the work that is done at NAPRA – to support the PRAs in protecting public safety and the public interest – is rewarding in and of itself.
How do you think your experience will contribute to your future career in the field of pharmacy?
My experience at NAPRA was both enriching and fulfilling. I gained a deep understanding of the regulatory processes that govern pharmacy practice, developed strong research and communication skills, and had the privilege of contributing to initiatives that impact the quality and safety of pharmacy services in Canada. As a whole, working at NAPRA helped to reinforce the importance of collaboration and continuous learning. Furthermore, with the scale of work being at a national level, my perspective on the practice of pharmacy has broadened. Interacting with a variety of diverse professionals has helped me develop a more well-rounded view of problems and solutions; this will be of great benefit for future tasks and problem-solving as I progress through my pharmacy journey.
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