Waterloo’s own Naushin Hooda has been awarded the 2019 Student of the Year award by the Ontario Pharmacist’s Association. Imprint interviewed Hooda to find out more about her experience.
Q: So, for starters, how did you feel about winning the award?
A: I feel recognised and I feel really good about it. It’s been a few years since a Waterloo student has won this award because it’s both between the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo graduating classes… So it feels good just to represent the school well.
Q: In the award announcement, it says that you have spearheaded a few initiatives. Would you care to talk a bit more about that?
A: Absolutely. Probably the highlight of my pharmacy undergraduate career has been being the president of the Society of Pharmacy Students. [The society] is the pharmacy student council and as the president I essentially acted as the lead [voice] between student and faculty. That involved addressing any student concerns, arranging funding for conference leaves, and in general, just working with faculty and staff to make sure that the services on our campus are just as good as being on the main campus. [The school of Pharmacy is on] a satellite campus which means that certain resources that are available at the main university aren’t always accessible to our students. So, bridging that gap was a large part of my role. That’s… what my responsibilities were with the society of pharmacy students.
My other highlight was creating a student chapter of a national organisation called CAPHO, which is the Canadian Association of Pharmacy and Oncology. It’s the national pharmacy-oncology group of pharmacists, and pharmacy associates and technicians. It was the first oncology student chapter to be created in Canada. Prior to that, they had numerous meetings and internal discussions of how to reach out to students [but] this was the first time that they had been reached out [to] by a student. Developing the club on campus essentially allowed our students to access their resources a lot better and benefitted… the organisation because they now had a greater student voice. Since then, we’ve done a lot of great things. For the past two years, we’ve done the night walk in Kitchener which has raised over four thousand dollars in support of the cause and this is the first time that the walk had been in the Kitchener area. So it was definitely a time that our students were able to interact with our community, specifically those who had been touched either personally or have a family member with leukemia… [That] reflected well on our students [who] we wanted to put ourselves out there… We’ve also held a number of educational seminars and brought some industry professionals to the school as well, further connecting the students to them…
I’ve also been involved with CAPSI, the Canadian Association of Pharmacy students and Interns, on a local level. [With them, I have] developed presentation days for students to go out to local elementary schools and teach about various pharmacy topics. I was also involved in the opening of the science to business network at the University of Waterloo which is a network of industry professionals across Canada. So, adding Waterloo as a piece of that puzzle was definitely a memorable moment for me as well.
Q: So it seems like a lot of where your skills lie is being able to bridge the gap between the School of Pharmacy and different areas, whether it be the main campus university, the Waterloo community or with other schools.
Q: You mentioned earlier that it feels good to be well represented at the school. Do you think that winning this award could draw more interest towards Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy?
A: I think that the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy does that in itself. It’s a very innovative program. It has a co-op program, unlike other schools in Canada that don’t have [the co-op program] inside of their pharmacy program. So I think that [our program] already attracts a great group of students and does a good job in ensuring that the curriculum is innovative and current to practice.
If anything, I think that this award encourages other students in the program to get more involved in the school. I’ve always been a vocal advocate about involvement and taking on leadership roles at the school… If you want a school to function well, you need great students and… I think that, if anything, that’s what I hope [this award] has done.
Q: Currently, you’re doing your rounds in northern Ontario. [To let people know a bit more about the pharmacy program], would you like talk a bit more about what that is about?
A: Sure. When pharmacy students reach their fourth year of pharmacy school, we go on a six month clinical placement in one of sixteen regions. The region that I was most excited about and that I’m currently doing is the Manitoulin Island placement which is a longitudinal six month rotation at the Manitoulin Health Centre in Little Current, Ontario. It’s a northern community where the majority of the populations is First Nations which… is different form patient populations that you would have in more metropolitan areas such as Toronto.
The placement is at a hospital and a family health team and… I rotate between different areas, getting exposed to different therapeutic topics and different patient groups, and then I also go off sight to the First Nations sites themselves. [This includes] Wikwemikong,… White Fish River, and various others to provide services to individuals who may to be able to reach the centre itself. It’s a terrific placement and has provided me with a lot of clinical experience that I think will be very relevant when I return back to practice.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
A: I would like to [talk] about the Ontario Pharmacist’s Association who was the administer of the award. It is a national advocacy group that represents pharmacy. That includes the pharmacists as well as the pharmacy students. [I would like to say] that it’s because of groups like the Ontario Pharmacist’s Association that pharmacists continue to excel in their careers and continue to be able to do more for patients. I think that, moving forward, having strong leaders in pharmacy [is] what builds that association and allows them to do the work that they do. It’s been a great recognition. They’ve had a great conference in Toronto this year, joint with the Canadian Pharmacist’s Association. That was a terrific conference in itself.
I hope that, in the future, we get more involvement from Waterloo and from the surrounding areas including Kitchener where our school is located.