High achiever David Lopes, 24, is distinguished not only as being among the first to receive a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy, he made the Dean’s list in his graduating year (2015), and received a North American, McKesson Pharmacy Scholarship annually.
By David Lopes PharmD
My clinical placement for the PharmD program included working in a schedule 1 mental health unit in Owen Sound (Ont.) and three independently owned community pharmacies in Grey Bruce County. Among my responsibilities were preliminary research for pharmacist intervention in delivering and monitoring long-acting injectables (LAIs) of antipsychotics, and taking part in continuing education seminars for pharmacists on comparing antipsychotic agents. I see this as an underserved community for pharmacy practice, but as pharmacists it also affords an opportunity for us to advocate for patients with mental health challenges.
Where I see myself contributing to community pharmacy will be in developing an appointment-based approach to utilizing a pharmacist’s medication management expertise. As the profession continues to evolve, I foresee far more collaboration in the coming years between pharmacy and community organizations such as CCAC (Community Care Access Centre), ACTT (Assertive Community Treatment Team – comprising mental healthcare professionals), and contributing to outpatient mental health programs (ie. CAMHS, CMHA). This could be in the form of pharmacist-led presentations, referring patients to and from these organizations for medication reviews, and to be an open line of contact for patients. This is a big reason why I am excited and passionate about entering the profession at this time. I want to take the pharmacy profession forward by advocating for the underserved community and advancing these community partnerships.
I enjoy this field as the variation from day to day operations keeps things fresh and interesting. There’s always some avenue to enter or revitalize in while working within a community pharmacy. As time permits, there is participating in CE events, redesigning workflow and counselling areas, developing or compiling patient resources, and so much more. These types of activities are all in addition to all of the drug information questions, scheduled appointments and counselling throughout the day. It also bridges the balance between healthcare and business that I find unique.
It’s this balance that drew my interest to the profession. As a teen, I was curious how ingesting a drug daily could prevent and treat illnesses. Pharmacy and the understanding of how medicines worked in the body, which I later learned were pharmacodynamics, were what first sparked my passion for pharmacy.
It was in a high school entrepreneur class where I researched the profession of pharmacy in greater detail that I gained a deeper appreciation for the business aspect. In this course, the term’s project was to develop and write a business venture plan. I chose as my class project to start an independent pharmacy. The landscape of the profession has changed since then, and opening an independent pharmacy from scratch today is a huge challenge. However, I keep the plans I drew up in class as a reminder that having an idea and a venture plan is step one in the process.
The last four years of pharmacy school have certainly been interesting. It’s been an integral time for my education, and I’ve seen the rapid development of the profession as it’s been reshaped through scope, pharmacy funding, and greater collaboration within the allied healthcare team. It allows for a more innovative approach to practice.