Shoppers Drug Mart
Sector: Health Science
Type: Career Profile
Biology, Chemistry, Health
I work in a community pharmacy and I love interacting with my patients. Helping to keep my patients and their family members safe and happy is what I enjoy most about my job. Patients grow to trust you and come to you for advice on their medications and health needs. Every day is different. We see different faces, different prescriptions, and are faced with different challenges to solve. There is sadness at times when a patient is facing a terminal disease. But there is also happiness as many patients regain their health. Forming relationships and keeping patients safe is what makes this job rewarding.
When I was in high school I didn't expect to become a pharmacist. I knew I was interested in math and sciences but didn't realize what a career in pharmacy involved. I started doing a chemistry degree at Memorial University but applied for pharmacy school after speaking with someone about the career. When I was accepted into the program I grew to appreciate the skill set of a pharmacist. It involves using math and science but it is just as important to be a good communicator in this field. I have advanced my skill set in certain areas, such as diabetes. In fact I became a Certified Diabetes Educator two years after becoming a pharmacist. This allows me to be more involved in direct patient care with patients living with diabetes. With any career there will be ups and downs, good days and bad. As long as the good days outweigh the bad than you can be happy in your career.
Pharmacy was never on my horizon when I was in high school. It wasn't until university when I spoke to others about a career in pharmacy, that I realized this would be something that I could enjoy. I recommend speaking to a pharmacist to get a better idea about what the job involves.
I love spending time with my family when I'm not at work. We love to go swimming, go on family road trips, and have pizza nights at home! I volunteer some of my extra time on pharmacy committees that help with the advancement of pharmacy practice.
A typical day at work involves checking prescriptions for medications, educating patients on their medications and diseases, and providing the safe delivery of injections. Pharmacists also help patients with OTC (over-the-counter) medications.
Checking prescriptions involves more than just making sure that what is in the pill bottle is what is written on the paper prescription. Checking prescriptions involves, making sure that the drug is the right drug for that particular patient. You must take into consideration the patients, age, sex, weight, medical history, current medications, and condition that the doctor is treating.
Pharmacists do a lot of communicating with other health care professionals (e.g., doctors, nurses, dentists, etc.) to make sure patients end up with the best and safest medication possible. We use math skills regularly to confirm patient doses (based on weight and age), calculate percentages of chemicals to use in creams, check kidney function, and much more. We are constantly checking different references to decide the appropriateness of medications for particular patients. We use our chemistry knowledge to check for side-effects and drug interactions because these are based on the chemical structure of the medications involved.
A great deal of a pharmacist’s day is spent on patient education. We educate on the medications we dispense (e.g., the possible side effects, time to effect, how to use properly). We also provide education on diseases, infections, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. We also provide education on everyday issues such as weight loss and quitting smoking.
The scope of practice for pharmacists has changed a lot in the past decade. Pharmacists now can prescribe for certain conditions. We can inject vaccinations and other medications, adapt prescriptions from the doctor, and check patient blood work. With advancements in practice and medicine, there is always a need for continuing education. Pharmacists have to be involved in continuing education every year to renew their license to practice. This allows them to keep current on new medications and skills. In the pharmacy we work as a team. This team is a mixture of pharmacists, licensed pharmacy technicians, pharmacy assistants, and pharmacy students. We each play individual roles but ultimately work towards the same goal of providing the patients with great service.
When I was
- Physical Education / Health
- Enjoyed doing things on my own
- Liked helping people
- Organized activities for my friends
- Played on a sports team
- Wanted to be in charge
- Liked being given specific instructions
- Engaged in volunteer activities
- Played video games
- Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
- Wasn't sure what I wanted to do