New U of S pharmacy program reflects changing profession

The University of Saskatchewan is updating its pharmacy program to better prepare students for the increased role pharmacists are playing in health care.

University will offer Doctor of Pharmacy staring fall of 2017.

In addition to dispensing medications, pharmacists provide flu vaccinations and prescribe medicine for minor ailments. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

Pharmacists no longer just dispense medicine from behind a counter, they're playing an increasing role in health care, providing flu vaccinations and prescribing medicine for minor ailments. 

In recognition of the evolving role of pharmacists the University of Saskatchewan plans to offer a Doctor of Pharmacy program starting next year.

"It's important to have pharmacists trained to meet the demands of today's healthcare system and the people within the system," said Yvonne Shevchuk, associate dean at the university's College of Pharmacy and Nutrition.

The new four-year program is more focused on learning pharmacy. More general basic science courses that were part of the previous program must be completed in advance. 
Yvonne Shevchuk is an associate dean at the University of Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy and Nutrition. (Rosalie Woloski/CBC)

Also, students will spend more time in the field on placements to gain experience.

"The time outside the classroom is a lot greater, so the whole fourth year will actually be in various practice settings," said Shevchuk.

Shevchuk expects the scope of services pharmacists offer to grow in the future because often they are easily accessible to patients .

"There are pharmacists in community pharmacies, many rural areas still have pharmacies, so they are very accessible for people," said Shevchuk. "People can go in and talk to a pharmacist and get the care they need."

With files from Saskatoon Morning