Guest Post: Pharmacist Sandy Hewitt

24 February 2017
[:en]For anyone who is thinking of applying to work as a Pharmacist or Pharmacy Technician and is wondering what a day in the life of the Pharmacy is like, here it is.  

(also posted on PharmacyU)

Medical Supplies DeliveredThere are three pharmacists providing pharmacy services on the ship.  One of those positions may be filled by a Pharmacy Technician.  During this field service, we have had one position that has been filled for 10 months and the other position has been occupied by a new pharmacist every 7 to 8 weeks.    Each day, we supply the OR with the medications they need during surgery and in the PACU (Post Anaesthetic Care Unit).  We also supply each Ward in the hospital with the medications they need for patients before and after surgery, as well as providing pre-packed take-home medications to patients who are being discharged.

A pharmacist attends clinical rounds and reviews patient charts to ensure that there are no drug related problems on each ward as well.  It is a wonderful experience to dance and sing with the patients, translators and caregivers as the chaplaincy team has a worship time on the wards in the morning!

CREW - PHARMACYWhen a crew member sees the crew physician for medication, we are a community pharmacy for our crew, filling their prescription, counselling and checking drug interactions.  We also provide health information and recommendations for over the counter medications for minor ailments, as well as answer any drug related questions by crew or by hospital staff.  We have a good working relationship with the crew physician, hospital physicians, anaesthesiologists, and nurses and frequently answer drug related questions as they arise in the treatment of our patients, whether they are patients in the hospital or crew working on the ship.

We also supply medication to the off-site dental clinic, the outpatient clinic, the off-site and on-ship eye clinics, and the screening clinic when ordered, supplying the medication in packaging readable by our patients (often French and with a pictogram).

Our medications come from all over the world and arrive on the ship via the USA, UK, and the Netherlands.  It can take up to four months to receive an order so we have to carefully manage our inventory.

Some of our medications are received as donations by generous supporters and others are purchased at discounted prices for non-profit organizations in low-income countries.  Like everyone else on the ship, we are challenged for storage space but we do have a temperature regulated container in the cargo hold that holds much of our inventory of medication that does not fit in our small pharmacy space.  This is the challenge of living and working on a ship!

We are currently recruiting for the next field service and welcome your application to serve the people of Cameroon in 2017-18.  Its a really unique place to be a pharmacist or technician, being a wonderful blend of community and hospital pharmacy. I highly recommend it!

Sandy and her husband Larry left their home in Prince George, BC to live and work onboard the Africa Mercy for two years. That’s a big sacrifice! Our deepest thanks to them for their commitment to changing people’s lives. 

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