Anne Marie Whelan, associate professor

A day in the life

Anne Marie Whelan, associate professor

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We have amazing students! I love having the opportunity to work one-on-one with them. The mix of lecturing and PBL gives me that—I couldn’t just give a lecture and go away and be satisfied with the job.

An ever-changing profession

“If you’re not the kind of person that likes change, the pharmacy profession won’t suit you,” Anne Marie Whelan smiles. “But I love that it’s always changing—I learn new things all the time. And in my teaching role, I love the interaction with students.”

As associate professor at the College of Pharmacy, Dr. Whelan has many opportunities to interact with her students. One such is her third-year Women’s Health course. “I help develop cases that address particular learning objectives,” she says. “For example, for contraception and emergency contraception, students have to find out how they work, what the adverse effects are, and who should take them.”

This self-directed approach is part of the problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum the College adopted in 1997. “No other school is doing PBL to this extent,” she says. “We want students to be able to identify deficiencies in their knowledge, and to assimilate and apply new information on their own."

“It goes back to pharmacy being an ever-changing profession,” Dr. Whelan explains. “In ten years, we’ll have a whole new class of drugs, so if students don’t develop that skill set now, they’ll be lost. But we do help them—they’re not floundering on their own!”

Dr. Whelan is also a preceptor in the College's Practice Experience Program (PEP). She takes two students into Dalhousie's Family Medicine Clinic at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre for six weeks. “They have a huge interaction with physician and nurses, discovering the pharmacist’s role in a health care team.”

“At the end, students are much more confident, their communication skills are better, they’re better at finding information and translating it into something practical—it’s great to see!” Dr. Whelan smiles. “And the physicians and nurses don’t want the students to leave.”

“Some students have commented that the benefits will stay with them forever, and ask if a job is available there—which I take as a really good sign,” Dr. Whelan smiles.

“My own experience at Dal has been amazing,” she says. “I feel very fortunate to be doing something I love. And the College is very homey and welcoming—we’re part of a group working together for a common goal.”