News Coronavirus Pharmacy students are stepping up to join fight against COVID-19
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Pharmacy students are stepping up to join fight against COVID-19

University students studying medicine are helping out all over the country. Photo: Getty
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Students at the University of Queensland’s School of Pharmacy are pitching in to support healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Roughly 70 undergraduate students have put their hands up to help out in Queensland Health hospitals, and about 50 have offered to assist in community pharmacies. 

Senior lecturer Dr Adam La Caze said pharmacy students were best placed to offer assistance to overworked professionals during the pandemic. 

“Pharmacists have been working hard to maintain medication supply to individual consumers as well as the community as a whole and this has led to a very busy and, at times, emotionally charged environment in community pharmacy,” Dr La Caze said.

“The profession’s response to the pandemic highlights the important contribution that students make in the profession and workforce.”

Many students will take on pharmacy assistant roles. Photo: Getty 

Associate professor Ian Coombes, director of pharmacy at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) said the crisis has allowed students to take on a more active role during their placements.

“While some departments have stopped taking undergraduate students and even let their interns go, at the RBWH we have engaged with the UQ School of Pharmacy to enable the 4th year students to stay on as pharmacy assistants to support our pharmacy workforce,” Associate Professor Coombes said.

“We have moved away from the traditional student agreement and employed the students as casual operational staff so that they are able to undertake a wider scope of technical activities with a smaller degree of supervision, once they have been trained.”

According to Professor Coombes, students have been enthusiastic and excited to help out. Photo: Getty 

But it’s not just Queenslanders who are lending a hand. 

Earlier this month, the University of Melbourne announced that some 140 final year medicine students will fast tracked to become clinical ,assistants.

Steven Trumble, dean of the university’s medical school, told SBS News the influx of trained students would take the strain off Australia’s healthcare system.

“They will be freeing up health professionals from a whole lot of other tasks that would otherwise hold them back, so a lot of administrative support tasks.” Mr Trumble said.