Young Leader in Pharmacy Alina Rashid: "As pharmacists we are uniquely positioned to work in a diverse range of settings."
As pharmacists we are uniquely positioned to work in a diverse range of settings – community pharmacy, hospital, government, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and beyond. Be open to new experiences and new challenges – you grow when you are uncomfortable.
By Pharmacy U
University of Waterloo PharmD
University of Toronto ACPR
University of Waterloo BScPhm
University of Toronto HBSc
Lead Oncology Pharmacist, William Osler Health System
What excites you about being a pharmacist?
As a hospital pharmacist, I enjoy working closely with both my physician and nursing colleagues alike. Pharmacists as medication experts are the key to ensuring physician orders in hospital are appropriate in terms of indication, efficacy, safety, and cost/access. This helps our nursing colleagues do their job more effectively. I enjoy solving problems – and as a clinical pharmacist and the pharmacy lead in the Oncology Clinic – I do this constantly. I enjoy solving problems at the individual patient level but also at the behind-the-scenes organization level.
When you graduated, what did you envision for your future?
To be very honest, I did not know much about where my career would take me. This is why I completed a one-year hospital pharmacy residency following graduation. Having worked in diverse pharmacy settings as a co-op student, I wanted to get a better understanding of all the clinical areas a pharmacist can work in within a hospital. As a new graduate, my primary focus was developing my clinical skills. I realized early on that I enjoy project work and process improvement. I hoped that one day I would be involved in decision making at a leadership level. To help make this a reality, I enrolled in the post-bac PharmD program offered through the University of Waterloo.
How has your career evolved since your graduation?
While I have worked in the same clinical area since graduation, I have had the chance to do so at various different institutions and in different roles. Starting off at a pediatrics teaching centre, moving onto one of the top five cancer centres in Canada, then making the transition to a community hospital, I have been able to learn about best practices in a variety of settings. I built upon my existing knowledge at each transition and moved into more project-based/leadership roles in the last four years. I am now working in a leadership position within a very busy oncology clinic but also spend two days a week providing front-line clinical care. Still having a foot in clinical practice helps me better understand the needs of the clinic and identify areas of improvement.
How important is mentoring in your career?
Mentoring is very important to me. I am where I am because of the mentors who have supported me throughout school and at work. I actively mentor students, residents, and pharmacists in my current role. As one of the participants in the Women in Pharmacy Leadership program offered through the University of Waterloo, I am part of a more formal mentor-mentee relationship. I find this opportunity very rewarding as my mentor and I are both learning and growing together in our careers but also outside of work.
What advice would you give to new pharmacy graduates?
I would tell them not to worry if they do not have a plan mapped out in their mind. I know as pharmacists we are very good planners but it is important to have an open mind about where your career may take you. As pharmacists we are uniquely positioned to work in a diverse range of settings – community pharmacy, hospital, government, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and beyond. Be open to new experiences and new challenges – you grow when you are uncomfortable.