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U of T pharmacy student Lisa Sun is making connections

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At age 9, Lisa Sun immigrated with her family to Canada. Now 22, she is enrolled in the Entry-to-Practice Doctor of Pharmacy Program in the 2017 graduating class at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. She is the current external affairs director on the Undergraduate Pharmacy Society and co-director of the Pharmacy Mentorship Program.

By Lisa Sun

 

My role on student council is to connect students with external organizations. Through educational Lunch & Learns, students within the faculty are able to learn about topics relevant in today’s practice not typically discussed extensively within the classroom. These topics can range from recently introduced over-the-counter medications to the relevance of insulin pumps in increasing the quality of life of diabetic patients. These areas are equally important in shaping our pharmacotherapy expertise.

The Pharmacy Mentorship Program connects students with already practising pharmacists from a variety of pharmacy disciplines through mentor-mentee relationships. Our goal is to offer students the opportunity and freedom to ask individualized questions to their pharmacist mentors at their own comfort level and be able to develop relationships outside of the classroom setting. We typically hold two events during the academic year — PMP Meet & Greet and PMP Career Night — to facilitate in-person interaction between students and their mentors.

These leadership positions have taught me to take an active role to effect change. I’ve seen the positive results when one is focused on “making things happen”. Similarly, as pharmacists, it’s important to take an active role to make our own changes instead of waiting for change. Accepting and carrying out a leadership role in an academic environment means that I have to act to make improvements to student experience within the faculty.

I believe we, as a profession, need to be able to step outside of our comfort zone. Despite facing resistance, we must be strong advocates of our unique role in the care of patients. I plan to make my own mark in the profession by being an advocate of inter-professional collaboration, at all levels of healthcare. The model has evolved in the hospital setting, where pharmacists play an interdependent role as part of the healthcare team. In community settings, I believe we need to actively reach out to local physicians in discussing the care of a patient. We are after all, medication experts.

Before enrolling in pharmacy, I completed three years of undergraduate studies at McGill University majoring in physiology. I was always fascinated by both the healthy and diseased human body and how it functioned. Volunteering at the pharmacy at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal during my undergraduate studies was where I found the intersection between my interests and career goal. I have since worked as a pharmacy assistant at Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart, as well as the Toronto East General Hospital. Therefore, I have some experience in the community and hospital setting. My next step is to look for some research experience relevant to today’s pharmacy practice.

The walls of medication fascinate me. I’m interested in pediatrics pharmacy as I’m fascinated by the pharmacodynamics of drugs in children. I also have a six-year-old brother, making interacting with children my forte. I’m interested in looking into the sociological and psychological factors that affect a child’s health status before being admitted to and after being discharged from the hospital, with particular emphasis on the effects of supportive care for children with congenital diseases or cancer. This is an avenue that I would like to find out more about through my placements and rotations. In a profession where the only constant is change, I’m excited to see where pharmacy will take me next.