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Sharing Knowledge, Experience and Laughter – Anitra’s Volunteer Placement with our Pharmacy Unit

Anitra Wenden has always had a love of science. Starting her career as a marine biologist, Anitra changed tact later in life and trained to become a pharmacist. Having spent a good deal of time in Cambodia previously, volunteering with other organisations, Anitra was encouraged to apply to Angkor Hospital for Children’s (AHC) volunteer program by a cardiologist friend who had already volunteered with AHC.

She will be with AHC for three months, working closely with the pharmacy department, which consists of three pharmacists, three nurses and two non-medical personnel. Anitra feels lucky to have ended up with a placement at AHC, “I consider it an honor to be volunteering at Angkor Hospital for Children – I believe it is an institution not only with a high standard of care but, importantly, it places such an emphasis on education – this is not common even in countries such as Australia”.

Whilst at AHC, Anitra is working side by side with the pharmacy department on a daily basis and delivering educational sessions to them on pharmacology – the study of medicines, including how they work in the body and what they are used for. In addition, Anitra has delivered a pharmacology lecture to AHC’s doctors, as part of their Continuing Medical Education, and assists the pharmacy staff to design their own teaching materials so that they are able to instruct others in the future.

Anitra has found that there is already a strong learning culture within the group, with the Pharmacy Manager, Ms Thourk Boproek, already leading weekly educational discussions. Anitra tries to identify the gaps in the group’s knowledge and training and provide solutions: “We have discussions about common issues which occur, day-to-day practices and work on general capacity building around pharmacology .…they have embraced the opportunity to learn, and have the attitude that there is always more to learn and ways to do their job better”.

The department comprises pharmacists and pharmacy assistants and therefore while they are all very knowledgeable, their learning needs may differ widely. Anitra has been helping the Education Department identify and install an e-learning platform for staff across the hospital. As part of this work, and to trial the software, Anitra has developed an online module for the pharmacists. This allows different learners to learn at their own level and pace, and encourages the development of self-directed active study techniques. Anitra hopes to raise the funds for AHC to be able to use this technology across the hospital ($2388/year) and to use this platform to continue to support the pharmacy department’s continuing education after her return to Australia.

Anitra has had a very positive experience working with her Cambodian colleagues in the pharmacy group, and has most of all enjoyed the friendliness of the team, and the warmth and laughter of the workplace.

Thank you, Anitra – we feel lucky to have you with us at AHC. You are making a real difference in building upon the strengths of our Pharmacy Group and we hope you’ll be back!

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