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The changing face of pharmacy

More than 130 social scientists and scholars from around the world are convening at Northeastern this week for the 18th International Social Pharmacy Workshop, a biennial conference focused on the psychosocial aspects of medication use.

This year’s conference, which ran from Tuesday to Friday, was titled “The Changing Face of Pharmacy: Engaging across professions to advance health in our communities.” The Bouvé College of Health Sciences and the School of Pharmacy sponsored the four-day event.

In her opening remarks at Blackman Auditorium Wednesday morning, Bouvé Dean Terry Fulmer, herself a nationally known expert in geriatrics, noted that the conference would give attendees the chance to consider healthcare from a truly global perspective. “The discipline of pharmacy is essential and central to everything we do in health and healthcare,” she added.

Wednesday’s keynote speaker was Barbara Brandt, director of the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education, which works to accelerate teamwork and collaboration among doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. She discussed the major trends in interprofessional education, emphasizing the importance of collaborative research.

“We can not achieve improvement in health outcomes unless we get the health professions together so they can learn with each other and then learn about each other,” Brandt explained. “But very importantly, we want them learning from each other.”

Interprofessional interaction, especially between faculty and students, is also an important part of Bouvé’s educational mission. It encourages innovation in the education of health professionals and recognizes the valuable roles and responsibilities of each profession. The college also actively partners with health care systems and community organizations in order to prepare the next generation of health professionals and help address the health needs of its urban neighbors and society at large.

The conference aligned with Northeastern’s emphasis on pursuing use-inspired research that addresses global challenges, particularly along the research themes of health, security, and sustainability. This includes bringing together researchers from multiple disciplines to solve these challenges.

The conference’s first speaker on Tuesday was Bryony Dean Franklin, an expert on medication error research and the executive lead pharmacist of the London-based Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Her address focused on how the relationship between pharmacists and their patients affects patient safety.

“I think over the last few years pharmacy has come a really long way with professional collaboration,” said Franklin, noting that patients should be considered part of the healthcare team. “But I wonder if sometimes what is missing is thinking about things from the patient’s perspective.”