After eight months of theory and books, three UP pharmacy students have joined the staff at Soshanguve Clinic 3 outside Pretoria to get three weeks of practical experience and help monitor use of essential medicines. They spoke to OurHealth about what it was like to get a taste of pharmacy in the public sector.
For 19-year-old Blessings Mokoena, originally from Soshanguve, the practical training is also a chance to return home and get some valuable mentoring from the clinic’s pharmacists, like Gloria Mathabatha.
“I’m enjoying myself here, learning medicines names which sound Greek,” she says. “The support we are getting from the pharmacist makes our work simpler.”
Mentoring the young students is something Mathabatha says she enjoys – much like the extra hands to help deal with the clinic’s long queues.
“It’s nice to share our experiences with them because they are inquisitive and eager to learn,” she tells OurHealth.
But Mokoena adds that the work can be stressful, especially when patients expect students to work faster.
“The patients think that we are not working and they shout at us, but we are here to learn, not to rush and give (the wrong) medicine,” she says.
According to pharmacy student Matsau Boikgantsho, the most common prescriptions they fill are those to treat non-communicable diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as drugs to treat tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections.
According to UL lecturers, the students have also gathered valuable data on the patterns of medicine use.