Pharmacy U

Renée Dagenais works to improve health literacy


A graduate from the UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences (2015) and the Lower Mainland Pharmacy Services Pharmacy Practice Residency Program (2016), Renée Dagenais, 26, is recognized for her academic and leadership achievements at UBC and within the pharmacy community. She is excited to be back at UBC and in the graduate PharmD Class of 2018.


By Renée Dagenais



During my community pharmacy rotation in third year, a patient told me that the ongoing support and follow-up I provided during his first cycle of chemotherapy inspired him to continue his battle against cancer. It’s moments like this that I’ve been reminded of the significant impact we as pharmacists can make in patients’ lives.


As well, one of my roles during my B.Sc. (Pharm) and residency rotations was to distill information regarding medications and disease management, and communicate it in a way that was both meaningful and understandable to the patient and/or their caregiver.


My interest in patient education and communication strategies prompted my awareness of the concept of health literacy. Evidence suggests that low health literacy is associated with negative health outcomes. Therefore, the objective of my residency research project was to identify which of four validated health literacy assessment tools (the NVS, REALM-SF, REALM-Teen, and SAHL-E) pharmacists preferred to use with children or their caregivers, and to assess the feasibility and potential barriers to the use of these tools in routine clinical practice.


Our results indicated that the NVS and REALM-SF were equally preferred by pharmacists. Reported barriers to routine use included time of administration and feeling awkward or uncomfortable when administering the tools. My research project has been very well-received, and it’s my hope that it may generate more awareness of the importance of health literacy as a consideration in the provision of patient care, as well as prompt further research into how barriers to pharmacists’ routine use of health literacy assessment tools may be overcome.


Recognizing the tremendous value of mentorship, I took the opportunity in the last year of my B.Sc. (Pharm) to develop and implement the faculty’s first Peer Mentorship Program, wherein junior students are matched to senior student mentors. The program has evolved over the past three years and continues to make a positive impact. I also had the rewarding experience of mentoring a student throughout my residency, and enjoy continuing to meet regularly as she undertakes her third year in the B.Sc. (Pharm) program. I look forward to future opportunities in my career, such as precepting and involvement in the CSHP Student Mentorship Program, to pay forward the invaluable mentorship that I have received.


I am very grateful for the opportunity to be in the final graduating class of the UBC graduate PharmD program. I look forward to going out on rotations to build upon what I have learned so far, and to diversify both my clinical and non-clinical competencies. The plan at this point is to do most of my rotations at hospitals in the Lower Mainland, Victoria, and Kelowna, and will include the clinical areas of ambulatory care, internal medicine, cardiology, infectious diseases, and critical care. I hope for the opportunity to do international elective rotations in both Texas and Qatar. Following graduation, my goal is to work as a clinical pharmacist in a teaching hospital – this is where I feel ‘in my element’. I would also like to remain involved with pharmacy-related research and academia. Regardless of where my career takes me, I hope to make a meaningful impact in patient care.