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Supporting patients observing cultural traditions

May 2, 2018
How Maskwacis pharmacist Gihan Mohamed applied learning to help a Muslim diabetes patient during Ramadan.

For Muslims in Alberta, fasting during Ramadan can be a major challenge. This year, Ramadan occurs between May 15 and June 14, where the average amount of daylight here pushes 17 hours. That’s a long time to go between meals, especially if you’re diabetic.

That’s why Gihan Mohamed, a community pharmacist in Maskwacis, decided to learn more about how to help her Muslim patients with diabetes through the fasting period.

“I am Muslim, too, so I fast during Ramadan,” said Gihan. “I have many diabetic relatives. Some of them skip the fasting, and others fast and their blood sugar goes up and down as a result. It’s very challenging for them.”

Gihan applied her learning to her practice with one Muslim patient who was struggling with his medication schedule during Ramadan. The patient had Type 2 diabetes and was on two different medications. One was to be taken twice a day, but he told Gihan that he had began to skip his morning dose and was only taking it when he broke his fast at sunset.

“I advised him to take it twice a day, but just modify the time he was taking it, with his two meals,” said Gihan. “His other medication was to be taken once a day, preferably in the morning. He was taking it with his last meal before he went to sleep, which resulted in hypoglycemia when he woke up in the morning, so I advised him to take it with his meal in the morning.”

Gihan says these types of struggles are common with diabetic patients who are Muslim, as they work to respect the fasting period.

“Some patients want to fast during Ramadan which can result in their blood sugar levels going up and down during the day because they are not monitoring well or taking their medications with the right meals,” she said. “It’s important to follow up with these patients about their medications and how they take them, and encourage them to drink lots of water and monitor their blood sugar during the day. If it’s really low, we need to encourage them to break their fast and eat something.”

After she was able to help her patient through Ramadan, Gihan was ready to apply for her practice permit renewal. She included her experience in her Implementation Record to show how she applied her learning to her practice. It’s another example of using creativity when completing your Implementation Record as part of your portfolio for the Continuing Competence Program (CCP).

“This story highlights how a learning idea was generated from personal, cultural, and professional experiences, and led to an implementation of learning that really helped to provide quality care to diabetic patients,” said Pam Timanson, ACP’s Competence Director.

“Quite often in the Competence program, we receive questions about which learning activities would work best for Implementation Records and where to find different learning activities. In the sharing of these pharmacists’ experiences of an innovative learning activity and how they turned it into an implementation record, I hope we have inspired and engaged other pharmacists in their professional learning.”

For pharmacists, completed portfolios are due for submission on May 31. For more information, check the CCP requirements section of the ACP website.