UB Pharmacy joins World Pharmacists Day celebration

The pharmacists of Bohol celebrated World Pharmacists Day last September 25, 2019, with the theme Safe and Effective Medicines for All.

The members of the Philippine Pharmacists Association (PPhA) – Bohol Chapter kicked off the celebration with the Pharmacy Roadshow, a festive motorcade that started at the Grand V Pharmacy in Tagbilaran City and ended at the YPG Botika. Conducted outside the Manga Barangay Hall, it was a modern take on the age-old concept of medical missions, in which pharmacists took a significant role.

Initially conceived by the Young Pharmacists Group – Philippines (YPG), the active members of YPG-Bohol, headed by the YPG Vice President for the Visayas, Janine Lou M. Monsales, and YPG-Bohol Vice President, Jean B. Ganub, adopted the idea for the first time here in Bohol. A diverse team of health professionals, including three medical doctors, two nurses, and nearly 40 pharmacists, assembled in the spirit of community service and addressed the needs and queries of a variety of patients from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The second-year student pharmacists from the University of Bohol (UB) were also there to assist the health providers and take on essential roles such as registration, taking vital signs, and patient profiling.

As the patients awaited their turns, they listened to an informative lecture by academic pharmacist Jean B. Ganub, where she debunked common myths and misconceptions about medications and their use. She also discussed the timely health problems our world faces today, the most alarming of them being antimicrobial resistance and vaccine scares. Afterward, the patients were led inside the barangay hall, where they received diagnoses and prescriptions, as well as other recommendations from the physicians. The next step was to receive their free medication at the dispensing station. As the dispensing pharmacists filled the prescriptions, the patients talked to counseling pharmacists from different areas of pharmacy practice.

Be it pharmacists from the academe, community, hospital, clinical, and even newly-registered pharmacists—all came to lend their time and knowledge to the patients at the YPG Botika. It was an activity that not only emphasized the pharmacist's significant role in healthcare but provided free medication and education to the public.

That afternoon, the celebration continued at the UB Instructional Resource Center (IRC) Auditorium with UBCPTalks. For the past few years, the only College of Pharmacy in Bohol has celebrated World Pharmacists Day with symposiums discussing the year's theme, creating a tradition that has served to educate and inspire its students to become the best pharmacists they could be. This year, four pharmacists with experience in different areas of the profession were invited to talk about the real-life pharmacy setting. In between talks, there were also video presentations of pharmacists and student pharmacists sharing their ideas related to the theme "Safe and Effective Medications for All."

At 2:00 p.m., the event started with a talk by community pharmacist Jeanette Calalin-Bacat, who shared six scenarios that she had encountered throughout her career. In each one, she talked about customers with differing personalities, tempers, and walks of life, and gave practical advice on how to deal with them.

Some of her valuable tips included keeping calm, staying professional, and respectfully correcting both laymen and other healthcare providers on common mistakes and malpractice, such as continuing to dispense antibiotics to patients without prescriptions. She also talked to the students about what they should know to prevent medication error, which could be dangerous to their patients. Indeed, she was a pharmacist who was a witness to irresponsible medication use and utilized her expertise to inform the public on what was right and proper.

The second talk was by community pharmacist Pace Michille Batingal who is currently a drugstore owner. She talked about the prevalent stigma against pharmacists in the Filipino society, in which they are labeled as either cash-register wielding salespeople (or tinderas, in our dialect) or money-grabbing businessmen/women in the case of those who operate their own drugstores.

Instead of blaming the misinformed public, however, she said that there were indeed pharmacists who acted only like salespeople and not healthcare providers, such as those who merely dispense and receive money without proper counseling. A tough pill to swallow, but such is the bitter truth. However, it doesn't have to stay that way. According to Ms. Batingal, it is the pharmacist's responsibility to dispell these negative notions surrounding our profession by effectively advising our patients on their medication and doing whatever we can to satisfy their medical needs.

As the head of her own drugstore, she emphasizes that she is, first and foremost, a pharmacist before she is a businesswoman. She also talked about the importance of contributing without pay by using social media to educate the public and encouraged the students to use the internet to educate themselves further. She ended by saying that our love for our profession will earn us the respect of others.

Speaking next was Pharmacist Leo Daryl Juablar, a hospital pharmacist for Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital (GCGMH). As he shared funny and relatable anecdotes from when he was a student, the audience laughed loudly and teased one another as these were situations and emotions everyone had experiences at one point or another.

On a more serious note, Mr. Juablar talked about his experiences and learnings in the community pharmacy, where he first started working after passing the board exam, and the hospital pharmacy where he presently works. He told the students that it is important to be confident in one's knowledge once in the workplace, but also never to hesitate to utilize references to educate others accurately. In his own words, being a pharmacist means being "committed to lifelong study and practice." In his speech, Mr. Juablar emphasized the importance of following Standard Operating Procedures or SOPs so that the pharmacy could operate smoothly, as well as working with other health professionals in the hospital setting.

The final talk was by Pharmacist Desiree Joy Lagnason, who had worked as a Clinical Pharmacist at Perpetual Succor Hospital for three years before her family opened their own drugstore, which she currently manages. She piqued the audience's interest by discussing the routine of her work as a clinical pharmacist, a novel idea for most of the students as this area of practice has not yet made its way to Bohol. She stressed the importance of rational drug therapy and owning your responsibility in the healthcare system as a pharmacist. She also encouraged the students to keep their curiosity and strive for lifelong learning.

All the resource persons were received warmly by the audience of student pharmacists, who were enlightened and gained much insight regarding the practical world of pharmacy. Ms. Lianne Dessieree Dumagan, a representative from the Pharmacy students, summarized the discussions and shared what she learned from the four resource persons who had not only taken time off from their jobs to be there but had also served at the YPG Botika as counseling pharmacists that morning.

As a grand finale of this year's celebration, the student pharmacists formed a human Rx symbol at the UB quadrangle, and, in the waning daylight, screamed together, "Happy World Pharmacists Day!"