The Role of Pharmacy Students during the COVID-19 pandemic
Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Technology students from the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Malta were involved in several activities during the COVID-19 pandemic in Malta. During such a time, students are encouraged to engage in healthcare activities, in preparation for their professional life. Students were particularly involved in two main activities which required manpower.
Students were invited by the Pharmacy of Your Choice Unit to assist with the +70 Domiciliary Delivery Service. Their task was to deliver medicines to older and vulnerable persons who were encouraged by the health authorities to stay at home. Together with the Local Enforcement System Agency, students delivered POYC medicines to these persons’ doorstep. The responsibility of the students was to deliver the right medicines to the respective patient. This was a win-win situation to both Pharmacy students and patients. Such an activity enhanced the relationship between the future healthcare professionals and the patients and at the same time decreased the patients’ need to visit healthcare centres or community pharmacies.
Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Technology students were also invited to prepare hand rub sanitisers at the Pathology Department of Mater Dei Hospital in collaboration with the Central Procurement and Supplies Unit. This, in view of the fact that demand for hand rubs by healthcare workers increased during the pandemic..
Although Pharmacy students practise at community pharmacies as part of their training, some students increased their presence at this time of need. As front-liners, this was very challenging. Apart from assisting the pharmacist, they were also involved in educating the patient. Students explained to patients the correct way how to apply hand sanitisers, how to wear masks properly, and how to practise social distancing amongst others.
During this time, students continued following on-line lectures and working on their assignments. Like all other students at the University, they faced the uncertainties related to the examination period.
Although the situation is not yet over, pharmacy students are still aware of the potential re-emergence of the virus. For the time being the situation has eased, however, pharmacy students are there on-call.