Born in Manila, Philippines, Marie “Jam” Bravo moved to Canada in her teens with her family. She was given the middle name “Jam” to separate her from cousins with similar first names.
By Marie “Jam” Bravo
The 20-something pharmacy student at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy has worked as a medical information associate for an international pharmaceutical company and as a pharmacy assistant in community and hospital clinics. These jobs sparked her interest in being on the front line of healthcare.
The changing and expanding scope of pharmacy practice makes this career a very exciting prospect for today’s pharmacy students.
For their part, patients have for a long time been seeking advice from their pharmacists about questions involving their health. Patients recognized many years ago that pharmacists are not about counting pills and filling their prescriptions, but most importantly are also there to listen to patients’ health concerns and work with them to create a plan on how best to approach and manage these concerns.
I started working as a pharmacy assistant 10 years ago, and I am very fortunate to have witnessed positive changes that have occurred in the pharmacy profession in the past decade, particularly in the area of more focused cognitive services such as medication reviews, smoking cessation counselling, providing pharmaceutical opinion to physicians, as well as administering flu vaccines.
The expanded scope of practice has definitely made healthcare more accessible and encouraged collaboration between pharmacists and family physicians. Pharmacists’ ability to renew and extend certain prescriptions for chronic medical conditions allows for continued care without interruption of the patient’s medication regimen if they run out of their prescriptions because of unforeseen circumstances, such as if their physicians are not available and patients need to continue taking their medications.
Having worked for both hospital and community pharmacies, I can say that I have a good understanding of the role of pharmacists in these different types of settings. I love working at the hospital because it gives me an opportunity to work closely with physicians and other healthcare professionals. I am able to approach them with concerns and work collaboratively on deciding how to approach the patient’s care. Having the opportunity to see patients every day also allows pharmacists to carefully monitor patient outcomes through safety and efficacy parameters.
In community pharmacy we are able to follow our patients long-term and have continuous interaction with them for many years. We are also able to address chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and also deal with patients who have suffered life-changing events such as heart attack and stroke. At the hospital, on the other hand, we may focus mainly on resolving acute conditions like stroke, heart attack, falls and fractures, COPD exacerbations, with the goal of stabilizing the patients so they can be healthy enough to return to their daily activities when at home.
I currently work as a teaching assistant at U of T’s Faculty of Pharmacy, so I can definitely say that I’d like to teach as well as practice. I also see myself being a preceptor one day and becoming a mentor for future pharmacy students
Ultimately my goal is to work as a primary care or family health team pharmacist in an ambulatory care setting, which is similar to a medical clinic. Team members there, including physicians and nurses, consult regularly with their staff pharmacist about pharmacotherapy and refer patients for more in-depth consultation. I am really interested in diabetes, cardiology and infectious diseases, and want to make a positive impact in the management of these chronic diseases for my patients.