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01/13/2022

Young Leader in Pharmacy Dr. Fairuz Siraj: "Providing clinical services is the future of pharmacy."

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Fairuz Siraj

Snapshot:

Education

Entry to Practice Doctor of Pharmacy, University of British Columbia, 2019

BSc., McGill University, 2013

Current role

Staff pharmacist at Pharmasave in Victoria BC, where I specialize in migraine and diabetes care.

What I do

In my comprehensive migraine consultations, I educate patients about migraine pathophysiology, non-pharmacological measures, review their past and current medication use, and assess patients' migraine frequency, severity and risk of medication overuse headache. Based on the information given, my assessment of the patient and using a shared decision-making model, I provide recommendations to the patient’s GP and/or neurologist to optimize the patient’s migraine management therapy. I then follow up in regards to the recommendations made and reassess the patient's therapy as needed. The goal of the consultation is to improve patients' migraine frequency, severity, improve quality of life and ultimately empower patients to better self-manage their migraines. 

I use a similar approach when I provide the comprehensive diabetes consultation service to my patients. A unique feature of my diabetes consultation service involves taking a hemoglobin A1C reading using the A1C Now point-of-care test. Based on this reading, and their previous lab values, I provide recommendations to improve patients' diabetes management and improve overall quality of life.

What excites you about being a pharmacist?

So many things excite me as a pharmacist, here is just a short list:

  • When I get to educate and empower patients in improving their medical conditions.
  • When a patient comes back and tells me how my recommendations have improved their condition and quality of life.
  • When I catch and resolve drug therapy problems.
  • When I’m able to make a great connection with patients and other healthcare professionals. 
  • When I speak at webinars to share my experience with my colleagues about the specialty services I provide.

When a patient and a prescriber put their trust in me and accept my recommendations.

I definitely believe that the future of pharmacy looks promising.

When you graduated, what did you envision for your future?

Upon graduation and obtaining my licence, I envisioned working in community pharmacy with a focus on chronic disease management. I wanted to bring what I call “the clinical practice to the community” through consultation services. The goal of these consultation services would be to optimize and improve their conditions.

How has your career evolved since your graduation?

Since graduation, I’ve started providing migraine and diabetes consultations in the community pharmacy where I’m currently employed as a staff pharmacist. In addition, I‘ve had the opportunity to work alongside great organizations such as Diabetes Canada and Migraine Canada.

I’m currently a part of Diabetes Canada’s committee for the upcoming Diabetes FrontLine Forum, which is taking place at the end of April 2022.

I’m working alongside Migraine Canada on developing a pharmacist’s educator program. The aim of this program is to provide more education to pharmacists about migraine management, thus enabling them to utilize this knowledge in their practice and help patients improve their migraine management.

Lastly, I'm working with a group of amazing pharmacists in British Columbia who are enthusiastic about pushing the profession forward. Our goal is to create a framework for an expanded scope of practice and get an MSP billing code for pharmacists to provide consultations.

My future goals involve taking my consulting company Empower 4 Healthcare on an online platform and provide my consults virtually.

How would you describe a great day at work?

A great day at work is when I get to utilize my knowledge and skills to make a difference in a patient’s life. This can range from adapting the dose of an incorrectly prescribed drug to the right one, thus making it safe and effective for the patient, to when a patient comes back and tells me how I made a positive impact to their overall health by taking the time to provide good education and empowering them.

How important is mentoring in your career?

Mentoring is very important, and to be honest, a lot of fun. I remember as a student, I was lucky to have a few good mentors like Darin Shaw, a pharmacist located in Kelowna, BC. He taught me a lot about the “real world” of pharmacy, which prepared me to take on the challenges of community pharmacy. As a mentor, I look to pass on my knowledge and passion and in turn learn new things from future healthcare professionals. I recently had the opportunity to have a nursing student shadow me; it was a great experience discussing real patient cases and coming up with care plans together.

Was there an “aha” moment for you, when you realized the impact of the difference you’re making?

To be honest, I don’t know if I’ve had the “full aha” moment just yet. I know that migraine, unlike other chronic diseases such as diabetes or asthma, does not get a lot of awareness and many patients with migraine are not managed properly. Therefore, when I convinced the pharmacy owner, Maria Kwari, to let me run migraine clinics, I saw right away that I was making a huge difference in patients’ lives; this further motivated me to raise awareness about migraine and work alongside Migraine Canada to improve migraine care for all.

If you can accomplish just one thing in your career, what would it be?

If nothing else, I would like to help BC pharmacists obtain the full scope of practice along with MSP billing codes. I think this is necessary, now more than ever, to help bridge the gap within our healthcare system, and pharmacists across Canada have stepped up throughout this pandemic and have shown their value as healthcare professionals. However, without an expanded scope of practice and MSP billing codes, it limits what we can do to help our patients and the healthcare system. 

As a dynamic leader in the profession, what continues to drive you?

What drives me is knowing that I’m part of the healthcare system that is in place to help people. I think most of us would agree that our healthcare system is not perfect, and many times it can be downright frustrating. Therefore, it's up to us as a profession to make this healthcare system the best that it can possibly be. We are the medication experts and the most accessible healthcare professionals, and together we can do something about it. 

How are young leaders paving the way for changes in the pharmacy profession?

I think that young leaders understand that surviving in the traditional dispensing only model is becoming more difficult and that providing clinical services is the future of pharmacy. Therefore, young leaders are finding ways to utilize their knowledge and skills to fill the gap in healthcare that currently exists while making it economically sustainable.

What advice would you give to new pharmacy graduates?

This is going to sound cliched, but new grads need to think outside the box. Think about providing clinical services that are economically sustainable. Remember that we pharmacists have not 1, but 2 superpowers. … the first one is that we are the medication experts, no other healthcare professionals have the vast knowledge and training that we do when it comes to medications, and the second is our accessibility; we are the most accessible healthcare professionals out there. We need to unite and get an expanded scope of practice and billing codes to make our healthcare system that much better. Let’s do it for our patients and our profession!

 

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