Coinciding with the newest opening of a Matt O’ Flaherty Chemist on the NUI Galway campus, Cathy Lee examines the benefits of on campus pharmacies.
Recently NUI Galway welcomed the opening of a commercial pharmacy onto the campus grounds. Of course students, like anybody else, can be prone to the odd cold, flu or illness – so is it a necessary thing to have a pharmacy on campus for convenience?  
 
UCD and NUI Galway seem to be standing quite alone in having an on-campus pharmacy. To find out more, I interviewed Sinead Nic Dhonnchada, a pharmacist working in Matt O’Flaherty Chemist on campus.
 
She told me the pharmacy opened on the 5th of January, following an Irish pharmaceutical and HSE inspection. The pharmacy is very accommodating with opening hours being 8:30am - 6pm Monday to Thursday, 8:30am - 5pm on a Friday and 9:30am - 1pm on a Saturday. She outlined that the pharmacy will be open all year round and is open to the public, staff and students.
 
When asked was the facility being used, she said that, “It’s been very busy,” since opening. With Students' Union election campaigns ongoing and a lot of policies appearing concerning the importance of the GP on campus, I asked how connected the on-campus GP is to the pharmacy. 
 
Sinead explained that the GP on campus and the pharmacy don’t have, “an official connection,” but they could phone each other for advice if required. As the pharmacy is a commercial pharmacy, this means it is a tenant of the college and is not employed by the college.
 
I spoke to the President of the NUI Galway Students' Union about the opening of the pharmacy and he told me that, “The opening of the pharmacy on campus was, without doubt, part of the diversification of income strategy by the university. While providing the standard services of a pharmacy, it also sells such items as make-up which I am sure would be very welcome.”
 
The opening of a pharmacy was decided based off of a survey asking what services the students wanted on campus. The pharmacy was subsequently chosen and the college put out a tender to pharmacies. The Matt O’Flaherty group hope to have more student-friendly promotional events and campaigns and have even introduced a loyalty card scheme.
 
In terms of health needs on campus, it is free to use blood pressure/glucose machines in the on-campus pharmacy. The pharmacy also holds informative HSE leaflets that are student-orientated and they also stock emergency contraception.
 
Sinead told me she likes working here on campus as the clientele are interested in their health and are quite inquisitive to see how they can improve their health.  She explained that it’s encouraging to have an, “informed and eager health-minded population,” within the campus. 
 
Photo: Matt O’ Flaherty Chemists, NUI Galway/ Facebook