Pharmacy U

Pharmacy Leader of the week: Jane Ling – “Advocacy work needs to be ingrained into the fabric of every pharmacist.”



Jane Ling is president of a Pharmacists for a Smoke Free Canada.


-What excites you about being a pharmacist? Improving the health of Canadians.


-When you graduated, what did you envision for your future?

When I graduated, it took time to find my passion. As a community pharmacist, I was doing important work.


It wasn’t until my mother passed away of lung cancer in 2003 that I realized patients received very little smoking cessation support from healthcare providers (HCP).  My journey led me to discover that smoking cessation was rarely funded for patients and not included in most healthcare provider university curriculum.


It was a personal story which led me to this area of need and became my focus.


How has your career evolved since you first started in the profession?

My career has evolved from being a community pharmacist to a family health team pharmacist, smoking cessation expert, adjunct assistant professor and president of Pharmacists for a Smoke Free Canada.


-What is (or has been) your greatest challenge as a leader in pharmacy?

My greatest challenge has been helping policy makers to understand the significant impact that pharmacists can make in improving the health of Canadians. It’s a challenge that I accept and work towards daily. Advocacy work needs to be ingrained into the fabric of every pharmacist. It is an important skill to help us make positive change for our patients.


-How important was mentoring in your career?

I’ve had many wonderful mentors over the years – preceptors, pharmacists, social workers, physicians, nurses, dieticians, dentists, physiotherapists, chiropodists.  This led me to becoming a mentor myself as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy teaching smoking cessation as well as precepting pharmacy students at the family health team. It also led me to mentoring pharmacists by developing the Ontario Pharmacist Association online smoking cessation training modules, authoring journal articles and speaking at healthcare conferences.


Was there an “aha” moment for you, when you realized the impact of the difference you’re making?

Yes, the great interest and growth in membership for two organizations I founded – CEASE (Central East Association for Smoking Elimination) and PSFC (Pharmacists for a Smoke Free Canada).


-As a leader in pharmacy, what continues to drive you?

My drive is the knowledge that smoking cessation is one of the most powerful preventative interventions in healthcare. The treatment of tobacco dependence is critical to health and should be foundational to excellence in healthcare delivery. Helping patients quit such a debilitating addiction is very professionally satisfying.


Looking at your career, what are you the proudest of?

Being a recipient of the Heather Crowe Smoke-Free Ontario Award from the Ontario Ministry of Health, which honours anti-smoking advocates who have made a significant contribution toward achieving a Smoke-Free Ontario


-What legacy would you like to leave to the pharmacy profession? Pharmacists to be leaders in smoking cessation and be known as such by patients, policy-makers, and other professions. Pharmacists are accessible, trusted, medication experts and have more touch points with patients than any other profession.


-Do you feel there is a glass ceiling for women in pharmacy? I never considered my gender a barrier and I led my life that way. Conviction and confidence are important to be successful in accomplishing your goals


-What do you think needs to happen to have more women in executive roles across various sectors in the profession? Greater financial support for child care & working from home opportunities.


-What advice would you give to new female pharmacy graduates? Find your passion. Don’t be afraid to try something new and different.


Join Pharmacists for a Smoke Free Canada at today.