Tell us a bit about yourself – what stage of your PhD are you in and what’s your project about?
Hi! I am a Canadian Pharmacist from Mississauga, Ontario. After graduating with my Bachelors of Science in Pharmacy Degree from the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy in Toronto over ten years ago, I have been practicing pharmacy in various community and hospital settings in the Greater Toronto Area. Over the years I have seen my role slowing evolve from being heavily focused on dispensing to becoming more clinically focused. Changes in our scope of practice have resulted in changes to the entry to practice degree requirements. All new graduates from pharmacy schools in North America now graduate with a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree. While it is not mandatory, those of us interested in bridging our Bachelors degrees to the Doctorate can apply to bridging programs designed for working professionals (such as the ones I am doing through the University of Toronto). I enrolled in this program about a year and half ago and I’m at the tail end of it now.
What does a typical day or week look like for you?
Since my program is designed for working professionals looking to upgrade their degree, I currently balance school with working full-time hours. At the moment I typically work 4 days as a Clinical Pharmacist in a tri-site hospital setting, meaning I tend to rotate across these 3 hospitals. I also work about 1 day a week in a large retail pharmacy. I definitely get a lot of variety in my work life and I personally love that. My PharmD program is flexible and customizable, so depending on my personal life commitments or workload, I can choose the number of courses I want to take each semester. The amount of my personal time spent on school work just varies by the workload of the semester.
What’s one thing that you’ve enjoyed the most during your PhD?
The majority of my program is online, but it is mandatory to attend the first week of school on site at the faculty in Downtown Toronto. That first week allows you to build connections with colleagues all over Canada, even some from other countries. Those connections you build in that first week will last throughout your pursuit of your degree. I have enjoyed meeting new people from all over Canada and learning so much about my country from coast to coast.
What’s been the most challenging part of it?
The program requires you to complete 16 courses and 4 of these required courses are experiential rotations and each is 5 weeks long. These rotations are in varying clinical areas and definitely valuable, especially for those pharmacists looking to transition their career to a different area of practice. However, it is definitely challenging to balance all of the variables in my personal and professional life to get the time off to fit these rotations in. That has definitely been the greatest challenge for me, but now that I have it figured out, I am looking forward to starting my first rotation this fall in Health Benefits Management!
Where do you see yourself 5 years after completing your PhD?
Since I am already pretty established in my career, I think 5 years later I will likely still be practicing in similar settings. I am looking forward to my clinical rotations though to get a better idea of how I see my practice evolving.
What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer students that are thinking of doing a PhD?
My degree is more of a professional degree than a traditional research based PhD, but for anyone thinking about pursuing higher education – my advise is to go for it! I thought about pursuing this degree for a few years before I actually took the plunge and applied. There never is a perfect time for it but you can make it work! Once you are back in that academic setting, you start to feel like there are endless possibilities.
What makes your university a good place to study?
It has one of the top rated pharmacy schools in North America and it is right in the heart of the biggest city in Canada. I also might be a little biased because it is the only school I have ever known.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I have always loved travelling, but COVID-19 has forced me to explore new interests. I love to read, watch cooking shows on YouTube and jump rope!