Pharmacy student perceptions of public health service roles and responsibilities
Background There is increasing emphasis on pharmacists' assuming responsibility for public health promotion and delivery with formal expansion of public health activities in their practice. A number of pharmacy school accreditation bodies now incorporate public health competencies within expected professional training outcomes. The objective of this study was to characterize pharmacy student perceptions towards pharmacist public health services roles and responsibilities. Methods All undergraduate students at the College of Pharmacy at Qatar University were surveyed 1 week following a student-led breast cancer awareness event. A questionnaire was devised from a literature review and comprised of 10 questions assessing pharmacy student motivations, perceptions and anticipated comfort with various pharmacist-conducted public health activities. Results Ninety-four per cent of students responded, most having participated in the breast cancer awareness event. They generally felt pharmacist participation in such health promotions would enhance the profession's profile among patients (75.1%) and colleagues (89.6%), but recognized that other health professionals may be unfamiliar with certain pharmacist activities in this regard. Students considered knowledge of disease aetiology and diagnosis necessary for pharmacists (97.9%), as well as the obligation to offer non-pharmacological patient counselling (73.8%). Many (61.7%) anticipated comfort in communicating potentially culturally sensitive health matters both to patients in their own practice site or as a spokesperson to the general public. Conclusion Undergraduate pharmacy students in our College of Pharmacy expressed favourable attitudes towards public health roles of pharmacists. Early enthusiasm for participation in public health activities is valuable for building communication skills, promoting leadership and potentially influencing practising pharmacists.
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