First Beduin woman pharmacist graduates from BGU

Faten Al-Atawneh, a resident of Hura in the Negev, is the daughter of a Sha'ria religious court judge and a kindergarten teacher.

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Faten Al-Atawneh, a resident of Hura in the Negev who is the daughter of a Sha'ria religious court judge and a kindergarten teacher, will on Monday become the first Beduin woman in the country to get a degree to become a pharmacist. Atawneh, one of four children, is a member of the 41-student Ben-Gurion University School of Pharmacy's graduating class - its first. The Beersheba school is only the second (after the Hebrew University-Hadassah's in Jerusalem) in Israel. BGU is also the alma mater of the first Beduin female physician. The graduating class includes two pharmacy students receiving high honors: Norma Assadi and Juliana Levin. The profession of pharmacists is developing rapidly in Israel, says school dean Prof. Tzofia Schreiber. "The aims of the BGU pharmacy school were determined by the need to preserve high professional standards and promote high-quality research, to train pharmacists who will work in the community and in hospitals in the preparation and supply of medications; give advice to doctors and patients; conduct research; understanding how medications work; and the development of improved drugs and drug delivery systems," Schreiber said. The profession has undergone significant changes in recent decades due to technological changes in medicine, she added. Pharmacists are increasingly becoming part of medical teams to improve treatment and minimize drugs' side effects and to explain medications and their use to the public. BGU president Prof. Rivka Carmi, rector Prof. Jimmy Weinblat, Health Sciences Faculty dean Prof. Shaul Sofer and pharmacy school founder Prof. Zvi Ben-Zvi will award the degrees in the ceremony on Monday evening. The first 13 members of the school's second graduating class who have already finished their practical training will also attend the ceremony.