The NUS Pharmacy community, also known as the Pharmily, and guests from various walks of life gathered to better understand the role of pharmacists in a rapidly changing, increasingly challenging healthcare landscape, at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Greater Good Series (GGS) event: Transforming the Pharmacy Landscape.
Professor Christina Chai, Head of the NUS Department of Pharmacy (NUS Pharmacy), welcomed guests and set the stage for an insightful afternoon, shedding light on how the role of a pharmacist has evolved. A pharmacist is traditionally thought of as a person in a white coat who dispenses prescriptions from behind a counter in a pharmacy. However, in addition to handing out medications over the counter, pharmacists are now providing counselling and education, as well as conducting research on health, wellness and medicine.
The need to produce a generation of pharmacists equipped to address the challenges facing healthcare in today’s world and in the near future was echoed by the first speaker Associate Professor Lita Chew (’90). The Chief Pharmacist at the Ministry of Health stressed the importance of capacity and capability investment to shift the healthcare system “from the hospital to community, from quality to value and from healthcare to health”.
“We hope to transform the landscape through advancing pharmaceutical care excellence, building a confident pharmacy workforce, redesigning the supply chain, and driving information and technology enablement. NUS play a pivotal part in enabling these strategic thrusts,” Prof Chew added. She highlighted the value that pharmacists can bring in improving patient outcomes or reducing costs of care, citing examples from a small pilot study conducted at day care centres for the elderly.
Associate Professor Alexandre Chan (PharmD, MPH ’11), the Deputy Head (Clinical) at the NUS Department of Pharmacy, who is also a Specialist Pharmacist at National Cancer Centre Singapore and serves as the Director for the National Pharmacy Residency Programme in Oncology, elaborated on his strong interest in cancer care that is owed to the training he received in pharmacy and public health.
Singapore is facing a phenomenon called the “silver tsunami of cancer survivors”. As the risk of cancer increases with age, the number of people being diagnosed and living with cancer is likely to continue to rise. With medical technology and cancer care improving, this also translates to an increase in the number of cancer survivors.
Pharmacists are playing an increasingly important role in cancer survivorship, by being a part of patients’ treatment journey and helping to address psychological and emotional issues. Together with his team of researchers, Prof Chan looks at ways to improve the supportive care for cancer survivors that pharmacists can provide beyond medicine.
With the role of pharmacists being enlarged, Prof Chan emphasised the significance of training and equipping our pharmacists to not only provide care, but also conduct research. To this end, NUS Pharmacy is at the forefront, developing competent human capital that make a difference in human health.
Ms Joyce Lim (’96), the Head of Marketing and Market Access at Johnson & Johnson Pte Ltd (J&J), was invited to share how the pharmaceutical industry is collaborating with NUS to support training and education for students. Internship programmes provide students with practical “real work” experience and on-the-job immersion in areas including marketing, medical affairs, market access, sales, regulatory affairs, pharmacovigilance and business quality.
The sharing was followed by a lively question-and-answer session, moderated by Associate Professor Rachel Ee (’98). Before bringing the session to a close, Prof Ee made an impassioned appeal to the guests present, “NUS Pharmacy turns 113 in 2018 but on no account are we showing any signs of ageing. Annually, 180 brilliant young minds enter our doors, with scores equivalent to those in Medicine, Law and Dentistry. They are looking to build meaningful careers that will impact patients’ lives, be it in hospitals, industry or research.
“Your support and partnership will help make a difference, whether it is through establishing Scholarships, Bursaries or Professorships, or coaching and mentoring students about life, work and the practice.”
The NUS Greater Good Series and Forums are a series of intimate dialogue sessions and workshops that allow the audience to connect with the speaker on topics related to philanthropy as well as issues that impact community and society. For further information on the NUS Greater Good Series and Forums, contact the Events team at email@example.com.