Pharmacy U

UBC’s David Cai boosts his pharmacy education for better patient outcomes

Pharmacy Business - Changemakers - David Cai - Headshot

Born in China and raised in Calgary, David Cai, 24, is in his fourth year at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UBC. He earned a sponsorship to a pharmacy leadership symposium in New Mexico last July, and will attend important annual pharmacy events, such as PharmacyU in Vancouver.

By David Cai


During my three years at UBC, I’ve been involved in various clubs, groups, and pharmacy organizations, including being a student ambassador for the BC Pharmacy Association (BCPhA).


Being a student ambassador has given me ample opportunities to exercise my logistical planning, public speaking and leadership skills. The ambassador team puts on several “speaker series” throughout the year, inviting accomplished pharmacists to share their experience with students of the faculty. We are responsible for food, advertising and the venue to host a successful event. As well, the BCPhA hosts an annual conference for all pharmacists in BC, and one session involves having pharmacy students present their novel ideas to practising pharmacists. The ambassadors are heavily involved in coordinating student applicants and presentation rehearsals before the conference. I have also served as a mentor and student leader in other capacities throughout my student career.


Assigned as a peer teacher for the pharmacy dispensary course, I help junior students perform patient counselling scenarios and give them feedback on their patient interaction and therapeutic knowledge. For me, the key to developing my practice in the years ahead lies in education. So when the course coordinator asked me to be a peer teacher, I accepted stating my love of learning and teaching.


On joining Kappa Psi, a pharmaceutical co-ed fraternity, I served as the vice president of external affairs. This was, and still is, a unique opportunity to my school as UBC hosts the only Canadian chapter. Kappa Psi is the largest pharmaceutical fraternity in the world and has a very prominent presence in the US. From this opportunity, I was able to network with students from many American schools, making many life-long friends, as well as understanding the similarities and differences in pharmacy practice between the two countries.


Currently, I am completing a summer student research project with UBC Pharmacy’s Office of Experiential Education, for which I received a small research grant. My project will investigate novel learning models in community pharmacy for the entry-to-practice PharmD program at UBC – namely, having two students to one precepting pharmacist.


The expanding scope of practice is a great way for the public to see how the vast knowledge pharmacists have acquired is put into practice. A recent change in scope of practice that excites me is the modernized RDP (Referenced Drug Program) in BC. This service allows pharmacists to utilize adaptation to change a patient’s drugs if they belong to certain therapeutic categories. This allows the patient to be on the most therapeutically sound drug while reducing cost for the public payer.


I like the flexibility and breadth of opportunities offered by a pharmacy career. My future plan is to obtain additional education after pharmacy school in the fields of therapeutics and business: therapeutics because I want to cater to all the needs of my patients, particularly in diabetes education and other metabolic diseases such as cardiovascular health. The business aspect of pharmacy is not discussed enough in my opinion. I believe good business sense is absolutely necessary to run an ethical and well-operated pharmacy. Having education in these fields will enhance the rapport I build with my patients and lead to better patient outcomes.