From Holiday Makers to Volunteer Aid Workers - Pharmacist Helps Them Stay Healthy

It's all about what activities you are participating in when preparing to have a healthy trip abroad, says pharmacist Cheryl Hoddinott who has a Certificate in Travel HealthTM.

Although you may think that it's the country you are travelling to, which is important, that makes the biggest difference when planning to prevent illness when travelling, it's more about what you are doing that will affect the advice that Cheryl gives her patients.

A traveller staying on an all inclusive resort is going to have very different needs than someone who is planning to backpack through that same country.  If you are travelling on safari or providing aide to a small community will determine the likelihood of what you will be exposed to and what you must do to stay healthy when away from home.

Cheryl says she is seeing more and more high school students and undergraduates volunteering, many in South American Countries.  Where they are sleeping and what they are doing changes how she would advise them versus other travellers who are vacationing in these countries.

There are many things that may strike an ill prepared traveller: from altitude sickness, to travellers’ diarrhea, to malaria, to hepatitis, and many other illnesses. As a trained and certified travel heath care professional, Cheryl can guide travellers as they plan for their trips. 

There is a lot of information available online, says Cheryl. Her rigorous training provides the background to guide travellers through what is sometimes an overwhelming amount of information. The pharmacy manager at Sobeys Mumford Road in Halifax, Cheryl spends two days a week guiding travellers as they prepare for their journeys.

A fellow pharmacist, Lisa Woodill, enlisted Cheryl's help to develop an extensive library of brochures for travellers to take home with them for reference after visiting the clinic. "Lisa infected us all," says Cheryl when referring to her and her fellow pharmacists who now work in travel clinics in the Sobeys pharmacy group.

Cheryl has also undergone training to provide immunizations and can prescribe and provide many of the immunizations travellers should have before going to certain countries, such as hepatitis A and B, typhoid, measles, polio, and more. The Sobeys Pharmacy Travel Wellness Clinic in which she works is a Designated Health Canada Yellow Fever Vaccination Center.   Cheryl works side by side with both a physician and a nurse to deliver this service.   Working together, the clinic has become a one stop shop for travel advice and services.

"People who come to the clinic are interested in their health. They want advice and they want to make sure they come home healthy," says Cheryl. She says it's fun to hear where people are going and what they are going to be doing.  She says she enjoys getting to live vicariously though them. "I would love to do this full-time. It would be my ideal situation."