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Daring to innovate and reducing antibiotic use, one campaign at a time

The Community Antimicrobial Stewardship team aims to address the public health issue of antibiotic use. This modest group fosters a culture of innovation and partnerships, making them a well-deserving winner of a PHSA+ Award.
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​The Community Antimicrobial Stewardship team taking a break for a photo op (left to right): Nick Smith, Hattaw Khalid, Hannah Lishman, Kate O'Connor, Stephanie Dion, David Patrick and Abdullah Mamun.

​Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, killing 5,400 Canadians in 2018 alone. As part of the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), the Community Antimicrobial Stewardship (CAS) team promotes appropriate antibiotic use at the local, provincial and federal level to prevent antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The group's innovative work and collaborative spirit has led them to many successes, including a well-deserving PHSA+ Award win. 

"It's a great feeling," Nick Smith, CAS project manager, says of the honour. "This team does some great work, and I feel we sometimes don't trumpet our own horn enough when it comes to our own accomplishments. So it's nice that there is recognition of the work the team does."

Small but mighty

With the goal of promoting wise use of antibiotics, the CAS team has contributed widely to public and health care practitioner knowledge of antibiotic utilization and prescription practices through public and professional outreach, education, surveillance and research activities. In 2019 alone, they ran three provincial public campaigns, participated nationally in Antibiotic Awareness Week, trained 1,634 students in community antibiotic education, published three academic articles, engaged with countless community partners and more.

"We have a great, small team of people who each have their own strengths and expertise," Nick says. "Everyone is really kind, smart, caring and passionate about what they do. It's just a pleasure to work with them every day."

Making a difference

Nick and his colleagues enjoy the process of seeing projects through from an initial idea to development, rollout and evaluation. "It's really rewarding to see something that you helped steer out there in the world, whether it's a clinical resource, a public advertisement or an educational program like our penicillin allergy campaign, and then hearing from people that it was useful," he shares. "We're doing our small part to address a public health issue of global concern, and that's very fulfilling. There's growing recognition that antibiotic resistance is not just some far off problem, it is impacting people here and now. Over 5,000 Canadians die each year from antibiotic resistant infections, so I have an appreciation for the fact that what we're doing is important and potentially life-saving."

Daring to innovate

While the CAS team and its work touches on all of PHSA's values, the one that stands out the most to Nick is "dare to innovate." "Surprisingly, the idea of an antimicrobial stewardship program that focuses on community prescribing is still fairly unique worldwide, even though our program started with Do Bugs Need Drugs 15 years ago now," he says. "With 90 per cent of antibiotic prescribing happening in the community, it seems like a no-brainer, but our team has been at the forefront of addressing unnecessary prescribing in this setting. We've seen some tremendous results, with huge drops in prescribing since we started our work."

Congratulations to the CAS team and thank you for continuing to forge a path toward a healthier British Columbia!

The PHSA+ Award program is managed by our Workplace Experience team, part of PHSA Human Resources. Workplace Experience also manages overall employee recognition programming including our Long Service Awards, e-cards, perks and a variety of other recognition efforts. For more information, contact




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