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Pharmacy in the blood

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Hometown for Richard is North Bay, ON. He’s 25 and holds a B.Sc. degree in biochemistry from the University of Ottawa (2011), and is currently in his fourth year at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy in the Doctor of Pharmacy program.

By Richard Procunier, B.Sc.

I have worked in community pharmacies since I was 17. I started as a cashier and floor person and eventually moved my way into the dispensary as a pharmacy assistant. It was here that I got my first taste of what it was like to help people manage their medications and saw the huge positive impacts a pharmacist can have on people’s lives.Every prescription had its own story. People coping with poverty, disability and mental illness were all something I encountered every day at the pharmacy.

The biggest reward I see in a pharmacy career is the ability to help many people get the most out of their lives and medications. It’s great news when a patient comes in to say your recommendation has helped improve their quality of life.

Another huge reward of a pharmacy career is the ability to own and operate your own pharmacy. This intersection of business and patient care is one that excites me. My summer jobs at the community pharmacies helped pay for my first degree in biochemistry. Without this degree I wouldn’t have been able to get into the pharmacy program. Additionally, owning and operating a pharmacy provide the opportunity to direct the care of many people for the better by setting up an environment that is conducive to helping patients.

One example of this in which I have participated is offering clinics (diabetes, osteoporosis, sun health, etc.) which provide an opportunity for health promotion, screening and the overall betterment of the community around you. I’d like to be able to one day give back to a community in this way.

I plan to make my mark on the profession by embracing the expanding scope of pharmacy to its fullest, to provide exceptional patient care. Over and above community pharmacy, I will pursue credentialing. I am already injections-trained, as well as trained in minor ailments prescribing, extending and adapting prescriptions and overall medication therapy management.

There are other interesting credentialing opportunities available that I think will facilitate patient care. For instance, I have taken an advanced elective diabetes course here in the (university) pharmacy program to prepare us to become Certified Diabetes Educators (CDE). Completing this CDE designation will allow me to better help people manage their diabetes. Another avenue is becoming a certified geriatrics pharmacist – with this, I will be more able to manage the care of older patients.

As to how the profession will continue to evolve, I predict pharmacy will move more into patient care and away from the traditional bricks and mortar set-up. Ideally, we will one day be able to prescribe the majority of medications and really embrace the title of “drug expert.”