Where is the public health Pharmacist?

PH Degrees – Hear from the Students 
University of Saskatchewan

My name is Amro Atwa and I am a second-year student of the MPH program at the University of Saskatchewan. I am also the Vice-President of the School of Public Health Student Association (SPHSA). I have my Bachelor degree in Pharmacy and initiated my Masters of Pharmacy in 2014 at the U of S. While pursuing my Masters I decided to base my thesis on the role of Pharmacists in Public Health and subsequently enrolled myself in a few public health courses at the University.

It became apparent early on through my Masters that the primary focus of health should not solely be on treatment, but prevention. My background and experience in pharmacy, also made me realize that focusing on the prevention rather than the treatment would lead to a healthier population overall. I started to strongly believe that the pursuit of preventative care would make an immense difference in how health care presently functions in Canada.

My interest in public health also grew as I saw many customers come through the pharmacy each and every day with a variety of needs. I soon started questioning whether or not something could have been done to prevent their illnesses and what opportunities existed to prevent them in other individuals. It was one such experience with a customer that motivated me to transfer my Masters from Pharmacy to Public Health. This one customer came into the store every month for his diabetes medication assessment and frequently spoke to me regarding the cause of his diabetes. He explained that his diabetes was a product of his poor diet and that his insurance covered only his medication. However, they did nothing to promote healthy lifestyle changes for him. This situation made me realize that addressing the social determinants of health would have made a bigger impact on this customer than filling his prescription every month.

I ultimately decided to obtain the MPH degree from the University of Saskatchewan as it is internationally accredited by the Agency for Public Health Education Accreditation (APHEA). I believe that this will enable me to achieve my dream of being a public health professional and take an active role in solving health-related problems globally.

One of the distinguishing factors of U of S’ MPH is definitely its practicum component. This provides all students with an opportunity to gain relevant practical experience in healthcare settings as well as the opportunity to make connections with others within the university, community and government. One more amazing thing about this MPH program is that the program covers all core components of public health; so you don’t have to specialize in a certain area before you start the program!

From my experience within this Masters, I would advise all potential Public Health students to get out of their comfort zone and try to make connections while they are in school because it’s the key to finding your first job! Also, join your student’s association and take advantage of the opportunities you will only have while you’re in school. Being the Vice-President for my school’s student’s association has personally given me the chance to get to know all my professors and a plethora of public health managers from different organizations. This experience has definitely helped grow my immediate network and has even played a part in you reading my advice today!

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