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Pharmacy Patient Public Involvement

UCLan’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences is known to hold events for students throughout the year, so they can understand and benefit from vital information which can be implemented in their working environments once they leave further education.

In March, the School presented a chat show style interview for fourth year pharmacy students, called PPI (Patient Public Involvement), with hosts Ann Urmston (teaching practitioner) and Katie Greenwood (lecturer in Pharmacy) interviewing two guests who suffer from life threatening illnesses.

The two guests were John Lunt, who had suffered from both lung and prostate cancer, and David Catherall who had also suffered from prostate cancer but went on to a full recovery. Both men wanted to share their experiences on how they fought this deadly illness.

Ann Urmston tackled the first interview and questioned John Lunt; Ann asked a few personal questions about his diagnosis. Then she moved on to the more sensitive issues, details about his illness and symptoms. Through John’s nature and personality, each question became amusing and humorous but yet John still managed to maintain the emotional effects in his answers.

During the interview John reflected upon his early symptoms and bodily changes, he explained to the audience the effects of chemotherapy and how that was having huge implications on his life and the never ending results of side effects in his treatment.

The interesting thing about his lung cancer treatment was a suggestion from his doctor on accepting treatment through a clinical trial; a rigorously controlled test of a new drug or a new invasive medical device on human subjects.

When asked about his clinical trial John said: “I was told they were investigating three levels of chemotherapy, as I understand, it was about the different levels of intensity, looking in to the possible beneficial effects of a higher intensive dosage, but weighing that in with the side effects that come with it.”

He accepted this method after consulting with his family and was surprised to see the results of his treatment.

The second of the interviews was conducted by Katie Greenwood; her guest David Catherall, despite enduring pain and suffering, still managed to make light of his illness and the after effects he suffered. David focused on his treatment and how it would not have been as successful if it had not been for the assurances of his hospital pharmacist.

David explained: “He came in and said to me, I am going to be managing your pain, you do not have to endure pain, and you do not have to suffer. If you feel pain or any side effects from your medication please let me know, we want you out of the hospital and back home as soon as possible.”

After the interviews the focus shifted to the audience; the fourth year pharmacy students then gave their feedback and asked questions.

Adam Esa commented: “It was very good and very inspiring. You get to understand how optimistic they actually are; it’s a real-life situation, hearing the experiences of these patients.”

Another fourth year pharmacy student, Charlotte Paley, added: “I think this was very useful, because you don’t really get much experience before you go in to practice with patients. After this session it has drawn some light on patient support, understanding their needs and what they want instead of just handing over their medication and explaining how to use it.”

The two practitioners were also asked for their feedback on the session.

Ann Urmston said: “This session was delivered as part of the 4th year Cancer module. As Patient Public involvement is integrated within our School we thought that the students would benefit from having patients involved too.

“We decided to hold the session in the form of an interview, with audience participation at the end. This event was received very positively by the students and it allowed them to understand how a patient comes to terms with the news, how it has affected their families and how they are managed throughout their treatment.”

Katie Greenwood summarised the event by saying: “Feedback from the students was very positive. They said that it helped add context to the teaching on cancer treatment that had gone before or followed the session. I was able to use the information the ‘patients’ had given us as examples to support the educational material during the teaching sessions I delivered subsequently.”

Thanks go to all the staff and Comensus involved in the event.