Second Act: Pharmacist turned travel influencer

The world is Nabila Ismail’s office as she builds her own travel brand.
Nabila Ismail
For Nabila Ismail every work day is a new adventure.

Second Act: In this series, we profile pharmacists who've gone on to pursue other professions, sometimes outside of healthcare, entirely.

Pharmacist Nabila Ismail is pursuing her passion: travelling the world, while working to make travel more accessible by hosting group trips for others to have local experiences and build community.

Her passion project, Dose of Travel, started in pharmacy school as a fun past-time and has since evolved into a branded media company, as well as a boutique travel agency.

But she hasn’t given up her pharmacy roots either. Ismail writes regularly on healthcare topics on social media and as a freelance writer and consultant.

With a physician for a grandfather, Ismail has been interested in healthcare from an early age and wanted to be in a line of work where she could do good for her community.

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"I became really fascinated by medications and how they helped people all around the world so that's how I fell into pharmacy,” says Ismail, who was born and raised in upstate New York and completed her PharmD at State University of New York at Buffalo.

Early on in school, however, she recognized that a traditional pharmacy career wasn’t for her. Instead, she enjoyed writing and travelling and started several blogs, including one on fashion, then pharmacy and finally travel, which kicked off Dose of Travel. “I [still] like that writing about healthcare helps people in many ways, especially with so much of our lives being digital,” says Ismail, whose healthcare-related articles can be found in Forbes, Pharmacy Times and Fodor’s Travel. “I can provide access to accurate and evidence-based information that is easy to read and understand [so] I feel that I provide more value in this way personally.”

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In launching her Dose of Travel Club, she's organizing and hosting group trips around the world. “I have many interests so being able to entertain more than one is really important to me,” says Ismail, who was in Namibia, at time of writing. 

It also means there is no “typical workday” in her life as her schedule and office space change so frequently. She spends six hours every work day on emails, research, writing and administrative tasks.

Ismail admits that taking an unconventional career path hasn’t always been easy. The work can be unstable. And being an entrepreneur requires being disciplined and setting boundaries, she says.

But even though she’s still navigating her career and what she wants it to ultimately look like, she says it’s been 100% worth it. “It wasn’t about the money, but about building a lifestyle I enjoyed. Now I get to travel, volunteer abroad, write and host group trips.”

In addition to building her travel company, Ismail aims to keep sharing her healthcare expertise. “I was on the BBC News last year and while live TV terrified me, I also loved it,” she says. “I really love working with the media and using it as a way to educate and inspire other healthcare professionals, patients and the community.”

A future aspiration is to be an ambassador for the World Health Organization or United Nations, where she could work with communities around the world and talk about global health. “I believe pharmacists have a lot of value and we don’t see or hear enough from them."

As for favourite countries she's visited so far: “I fell in love with Lebanon and the work I did there; I love the food, culture and the hospitality of the people,” she says. “South Africa will always be a country I return to because it's absolutely stunning—Cape Town is probably one of the prettiest cities I've been to.”

Follow more of Ismail’s travels on Instagram @doseoftravel.

Know a pharmacist doing something “different”? Tell us about them. 

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