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02/22/2023

Andrew Schonbe wins for Business Innovation at Pharmacy Practice + Business Awards

The Pharmacy Practice + Business Awards recognize Canadian pharmacy professionals providing exceptional patient care and demonstrating creativity and innovation in pharmacy practice. We are pleased to introduce this year’s winners.
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Man in a lab coat

Why he won: In 2019, pharmacist Andrew Schonbe launched the country’s first-ever online PrEP service to address significant gaps in access to HIV prevention medication and sexual health services. Today, his collaborative PrEP Clinic/Ontario Prevention Clinic + pharmacy have helped more than 5,000 Ontarians and counting. Plus, in addition to providing in-person services in Toronto, he and his team offer satellite physical locations in Ottawa and Brampton to underserviced community members in collaboration with local AIDS service organizations. To ensure easy access to services, there is a late-night phone line, text and email services, walk-in, evening and online options—and a multilingual pharmacy team. The pharmacy also ships free harm reduction tools and offers naloxone counselling services.

Schonbe says pharmacists are “the literal glue that hold the team together” and are fully embedded in patient care. They work in an augmented clinical role and are the key point of contact for patients, while leading interprofessional practice with pharmacy technicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and social workers on the team. With a more appointment-based model, pharmacists can also have private, thorough one-on-one consultations. This has maximized patient care levels while elevating respect for the profession and role of the pharmacist.

Check out the other winners!

Q&A

What do you most enjoy about what you do?

I love the spontaneity and freedom to be creative in this space. I really feel like it is limitless. Almost daily, I think of new ideas or ways to engage with the community and can very quickly bring these to fruition. It’s very rewarding to be able to quickly improve the lives of patients with new programs and services—to just go out and make it happen.

What is your biggest challenge?

Spreading myself a bit too thin at times and having focus in too many directions. It can be difficult to balance the limitless nature of innovation that I love with the realities of how many things you can do at once. It’s really a balancing act but organization, delegation and teamwork are essential to navigate this.

Is there someone who mentored you, or served
as a role model?

While I have not had a mentor or role model personally, I have taken my learnings and experiences to be a mentor to my current pharmacy team. It has been rewarding to inspire and uplift those newer practitioners.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give a young pharmacist who wants to make a difference in their career?

Keep an open mind and look beyond your horizons. Sometimes we get comfortable within four walls of a “safe” role or employer, which prevents us from conceiving something outside the box. This stunts innovation potential that could be hiding deep inside you. Attend events and conferences, read what others are doing, and reach out to pharmacists in spaces that are interesting to you to share their experiences and open a dialogue.

What’s next for you—any goals or dreams you hope to achieve in the future?

I hope to continue to grow the pharmacy-clinic and reduce barriers to access for even more Ontarians. This includes an increased focus on rapid PrEP starts, preparing for the launch of injectable PrEP, and integrating doxy PrEP/PEP into practice.

What’s your favourite way to spend time outside of work?

I’m pretty much always on the go with work these days but I would say taking care of my pup (and our pharmacy mascot) Achilles. He forces me to take those pauses and go for a breath of fresh air—literally.

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