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02/22/2023

Fairuz Siraj wins for Rising Star at the 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 glasses and lab coat

Why he won: As a recent pharmacy graduate, Fairuz Siraj is already making an indelible impact on both patients and the profession. His unique and comprehensive consultation service for patients with diabetes or those suffering with migraine empowers them with knowledge to optimize their therapy and improve their quality of life.

During migraine consultations, for example, Siraj educates patients on migraine pathophysiology and non-pharmacological measures, then reviews their past and current medication use to assess migraine frequency, severity and risk of medication overuse headache. Based on his assessment, he provides recommendations to the patient’s doctor and/or neurologist to optimize therapy—and follows up to reassess as needed.

Passionate about inspiring others to move the profession of pharmacy forward, Siraj is now working with Migraine Canada to develop a Migraine Educator Certification for pharmacists. He has been featured in media outlets on how pharmacists can address the primary care access challenges patients are currently facing in B.C., and is a local speaker/educator on chronic disease topics such as diabetes and migraine management.

Check out the other winners!

Q&A

What do you most enjoy about what you do?

I absolutely love patient consultations. This allows me to connect with them, empower them with appropriate knowledge and provide them with multiple medication options. It also gives patients an active role in decision-making about managing their conditions. Patients taking ownership in managing their condition is music to my ears.

What is your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge for most community pharmacists, including myself, is the lack of individual billing codes. The current model for pharmacy cognitive services reimbursement is limited, and unique consultation services such as the ones I provide for migraine management, are not recognized by government and third-party insurance. Furthermore, the lack of individual billing  codes means that pharmacists must be attached to a pharmacy to claim reimbursement for cognitive services, which limits our abilities to be entrepreneurs and start our own businesses. I believe that if pharmacists were given individual billing codes, many more would start their own ventures and not be tied down to their dispensing roles.

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

There are so many, but here is a short list. Andre Gauthier (Walmart Pharmacy in Hawkesbury, ON.). His ability to connect with patients and his knowledge about therapeutics really inspired me to pursue a career as a pharmacist. Terralyn Scharnatta, (Save-On-Foods in Kelowna, B.C.)  was very supportive while I was a student and allowed me to learn, grow and develop skills that I use today. Darin Shaw (Kelowna General Hospital). He shared practical, real-life knowledge that helped me be ready to practise as a pharmacist. We still keep in touch and talk about patient-centred care.

Name something you’re really good at, that has nothing to do with pharmacy.

I think I’m pretty average at everything. But I do like to think that I’m kind of a comedian and I like making people laugh with a good story. However, if you asked my wife, she would advise me to not quit my day job anytime soon.

What  advice would you give a young pharmacist who wants to make a difference ?

However impossible it may seem and whatever the obstacles are, if you believe in yourself, are willing to put in the hard work and are not afraid to fail, you will succeed.

What’s next for you ?

I have a few collaborative projects in mind for chronic disease management that I’m hoping to work on for 2023. The aim is to optimize patients’ chronic disease management and show the value that pharmacists can play in a collaborative setting.

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