Sherouk Tawfik, cultivating health
“As the soil, however rich it may be, cannot be productive without culture, so the mind, without cultivation, can never produce good fruit.” – Seneca
“The current conflict in Egypt has affected my world, country, and community to a massive extent,” Sherouk Tawfik says. Polarized opponents disregard others’ opinion, dividing the community. Conflict begins with one issue and spreads out to affect every aspect of the community in some way. In the case of tourism, conflict has made world travelers hesitant to visit a country webbed with hostility. The overall economy suffers, and the welfare of average citizens is negatively impacted. Positive health care often reverts to crisis treatments. For this reason, Sherouk believes conflict resolution is in everyone’s interest.
In high school, Sherouk visited the 57357 Children’s Cancer Hospital of Egypt (CCHE), the largest children’s cancer hospital in the world. Though ultra-modern, it is run solely on donations and treats all patients with the same standard of care for free, regardless of race or creed. It was built to address the 8,400 children diagnosed with cancer every year throughout Egypt, and its leading scientist considers ignorance and poverty as the worst disease of all. The hospital sees itself as “a model of what people can do when they work together for the benefit of mankind.”
As Sherouk toured CCHE, she began to glimpse her future. “It is not only my dream but also my duty to be involved in the community around me and help educate others about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” Sherouk says. What channeled her into pharmaceuticals stemmed from a childhood sense of mistrust of drugs. She had wondered why helpful medicines were combined with something unhealthy, like cough-medicine with cavity-causing sugar.
Much of her subsequent training in pharmaceuticals involved CCHE, and what really hooked her was “the feeling you get when look at how worried the family members are that it may be the last time they see their child, yet you can offer them hope, and they smile back at you.”
Sherouk completed a course on Pharmaceutical Care Plans, (PCP) and developed scientific posters and parent-patient counseling plans in coordination with CCHE and the Clinical Pharmacy Workshop. She participated in the Student Conference on Pharmaceutical Studies (SCOPS) as team leader in the patient counseling sector of a final competition known as The Power of Knowledge, which was held at CCHE. “We worked together as a team to come up with innovative ways to further facilitate the treatment process,” Sherouk says, focusing on effective methodology related to patient counseling.
Categorizing the procedures according to the stages the children usually go through in the hospital, Sherouk’s team researched effective approaches and held events to not only treat the patient, but also to help him/her maintain morale and self-esteem throughout his/her stay, treating them not only physiologically but also emotionally and mentally. Each idea lifted the team’s spirits because they could clearly see the benefits to those in need. While Sherouk enjoyed the position of leadership, the most important aspect of the experience was the chance to make a difference in people’s lives.
Sherouk presented the team’s patient-counseling plan in the competition to the hosting professors, physicians, and over two hundred and fifty pharmacy students from at least five different Cairo universities. She was voted Best Presenter, an unforgettable and rewarding moment for which she feels everlasting gratitude.
Sherouk has attended several pharmaceutical conferences: one in Alexandria, another in Hurghada, and two in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She has also started her internship at Pfizer, training behind the scenes in the quality assurance department, evaluating the compounding process.
Yet it is her experience at the HSI that was “no doubt the best experience of my life,” Sherouk says. “Meeting with people from all over the world and having the chance to learn from one another in such a well-developed, carefully planned program was unbelievable!” She found her fellow students “inspiring, enthusiastic and motivational, and they taught me what it’s like to leave home and yet find a second family, a second home half way across the world.