By Arjun Gupta
On Monday April 17, 2023, MDHS’s Health & Wellness SHSM class took a field trip to Sheridan College’s Davis Campus. Located in Brampton, it is the largest Sheridan campus, and it houses their cutting edge nursing and pharmacology classrooms. This opportunity was exclusive to Health SHSM students, and it marked the first time that MDHS had ever visited the school.
Upon arriving, students were escorted by program advocates to a private conference room to attend a presentation about program opportunities at Sheridan. It served as a great informational boost for those currently “shopping” for post-secondary options, regardless of where students are applying. The pharmacist and pharmacy technician then began their course on The Art & Science of Pharmacy. First, the class learned about the role of a pharmacy technician, whose responsibilities include filling prescriptions, delivering to patients, compounding, and managing day-to-day operations. An ancillary position to the pharmacist, they are in extreme high demand across Canada.
Then, the pharmacist taught students about the creativity and ingenuity of compounding pharmacy, where custom medications are synthesized from scratch in different form factors. These dosage forms even include lollipops, lip balms, animal chew toys, and many more. To create lip medicine for a horse, for example, pharmacists had to create a deodorant-sized chapstick with an apple-cinnamon flavour, appealing to the horse while ensuring that that the product is not ingested.
After receiving a pizza lunch and commemorative loot bag, students embarked on a wide tour across the campus.
Eventually, the group stopped in the nursing laboratory classrooms. These spaces are ultra-realistic, meant to simulate the real clinical experience for Sheridan nursing students. “It actually felt like I was in a hospital,” one student remarked. Here there were several realistic and interactive practice mannequins, some costing up to $216,000.
Humberto Laranjo, RN, is the Lab Manager for Sheridan’s nursing program. Formerly a teacher, he now oversees the department’s operations. When asked about the goals of the program, this is what he had to say:
“The goal is to try to simulate [nursing] as much as we can to what students will face in clinical settings. The scenarios we craft are designed to be realistic as possible, with proper medications that you’d find specifically in hospitals. The vials would have the same labels, everything. Then with the mannequins, through the use of a SimPad or laptop, we basically put the students through various testings. We’ll have a scenario with, say pneumonia, so then we would change the sounds of the mannequin’s lung fields to match an actual pneumonia patient. So, when they go into the clinical setting and hear those sounds, they’ll know ‘oh this patient probably has pneumonia’. So we do that for various things that they would learn within their classroom.”
He also notes that Sheridan College is one of the pioneers of using VR and AR technology to study anatomy. Talk about a firsthand experience!
“The other aspect of our program is the virtual reality. You put on the goggles, a patient pops up around you, and you’re in an actual hospital room. Let’s say the doctor’s orders were to give a certain medication, and if you gave the wrong med, the scenario would change and interact accordingly. Then we have a new augmented reality program called HALO, where you interact with the anatomy of the human body. With those glasses, you’re in a normal room, but in front of you, let’s say, a skeleton pops up, and you are now able to kind of swim through and look at the bone structures, the density, look at the ventricles of the heart. So with each little organ, each bone structure, you’re actually able to get down to the fine details. Based on all of these technologies, some high fidelity, some lower fidelity, some VR, some AR, we hope that when students go out into the real world, the education is firmly embedded in them.”
Unfortunately, our SHSM students were not able to demo the VR/AR goggles, but they were free to roam the many classrooms/observation rooms and observe the equipment as they pleased.
Finally, SHSM students made their way to the pharmacology laboratory classroom, where they got to step into the shoes of a pharmacy technician in a special lab workshop. Students donned their personal protective equipment like they had learned in class, and were now tasked with creating a glaxal-based topical with equal parts camphor and menthol.
View more field trip photos + healthcare activities here.
Though the lotion was never served to actual patients, all of the used materials and equipment were fully authentic. Students had to precisely weigh then combine the crystal menthol and camphor in a mortar and pestle, a process called trituration. Afterwards, students would mix the glaxal base into the solution, creating a medicated lotion. “I feel like Jesse Pinkman”, one student joked.
Soon after doffing their gear and washing all of the equipment, students hurried back to their bus to head home for the day.
All in all, a highly unique and immersive experience that future classes will surely enjoy as much as we did.