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Blake Ziegler looks at the science of pharmacy

PBNov15Changemakers - Blake Ziegler photo

Ever since he saw the structure of a virus in his elementary school science textbook, Blake Ziegler, 26, has been studying chemistry. He holds a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry (2011) from the University of Waterloo and a PharmD (2015) from the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto.


By Blake Ziegler

From computational chemistry research as a research assistant at University of Waterloo, to research in a level 3 bio-safety lab at University of Toronto studying HIV, I have been interested in delving deeper into science, and I will apply this curiosity to my pharmacy practice.

One way I have already done this is through the Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto), where I was involved in investigating the stability of oral medication formulations. I plan to continue developing and testing new compounding formulations and publishing that research in pharmacy journals.

I think scientific exploration is a big opportunity for pharmacists. For example: community pharmacists tracking which patients receive flu shots at their pharmacy and collecting data on whether they reported the flu or not that season. This type of information can prove to be very valuable to policy-makers, as well as helping inform vaccine distribution networks.

I gained a strong appreciation for the research opportunities in community pharmacy while working with OPEN, a multi-disciplinary research collaboration program (funded primarily by the Government of Ontario), to provide evidence on the quality, outcomes and value of medication management services provided by pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.

I have been something of an advocate of expanded scope academically since I did a 10-week rotation with OPEN at the University of Waterloo. I worked on a project looking at immunization rates of pharmacists themselves and also which vaccines should be administered by pharmacists in the future. I plan to take advantage of these opportunities in my future practice in conducting my own research regarding patient interventions and outcomes.

Someday, I’d like to own a community pharmacy. My goal for the future is to take advantage of expanded scope to provide the best care for the patient with current knowledge, while conducting research on interventions and outcomes of my patients to help drive practice forward.
It’s great to be entering the profession at this time, thanks to the larger role pharmacists play in patient care compared to the past. I am glad that programs like MedsChecks are becoming broadly implemented. Travel clinics, immunizations, hypertension and diabetes clinics are also interesting avenues to explore and I plan to incorporate them in my future practice.

I am looking forward to the time when pharmacists can prescribe for minor ailments and order lab values in Ontario. I can picture pharmacists, unsure about cholesterol or HbA1C values, ordering tests for their patients to better tailor their care. I also envision an online profile for each patient where I can access that patient’s health information, such as medical conditions, medications, lab tests, which would be ideally populated by various healthcare professionals involved in the patient’s care. This profile would be similar to a hospital chart, but include all care provided to the patient. I would use this information to help make informed decisions in my own practice.

For pharmacy students and young pharmacists, I believe being involved with our professional association is the best way to convince government to allow us to practise to our fullest extent.