Young Leader in Pharmacy Nelo Uddoh: "My career has definitely taken an interesting turn."
On the busiest of days, a familiar smile or wave from across the counter reassures me that we are making an impact in the community and that gives me all the adrenaline I need to come into the dispensary every day.
By Pharmacy U
Master of Health Informatics (candidate) - University of Waterloo, Canada
Bachelor of Pharmacy - Eastern Mediterranean University, North Cyprus
Bachelor of Science Biochemistry/Microbiology - University of Nigeria, Nigeria
Senior Product Associate in Digital Health
Casual Pharmacist - Shoppers Drug Mart
What excites you about being a pharmacist?
Community pharmacy practice is my way of connecting to the community I serve. Seeing patients who have become ‘friends’ to the pharmacy come in and share a moment with us because they appreciate our service always makes a day brighter. It gives me great joy to help my patients – whether it’s spending a few extra minutes providing the much-needed support to them or their guardian, supporting deprescribing efforts or just providing simple over-the-counter advice to walk-ins, I am constantly cognizant of the privilege I have to support my community. On the busiest of days, a familiar smile or wave from across the counter reassures me that we are making an impact in the community and that gives me all the adrenaline I need to come into the dispensary every day.
When you graduated, what did you envision for your future?
At the time of graduation, I was very excited to be a community pharmacist working in a multidisciplinary setting including family physicians, nurses, personal support workers, social workers, naturopaths, dieticians etc. I was looking to facilitate holistic care in my community. I envisioned collaboration focused on proactive population health education and chronic disease prevention; an empowering hub where patients become equipped with tools for a healthier, longer life for themselves and their families. As health equity has always been a big area of interest for me, I wanted to be able to collaborate with other healthcare professionals to provide voluntary services to underserved communities.
How has your career evolved since your graduation?
My career has definitely taken an interesting turn. Becoming a licensed pharmacist in Ontario and working in different cities across the province has afforded me the privilege of supporting a diverse group of patients on their health journeys. Along the way, I developed a keen interest in adopting digital health initiatives for improved therapeutic outcomes that could help bridge some care gaps that plague the healthcare system today. Over the past couple of years, I have built my knowledge in digital health and pivoted my career more in that direction. Building my knowledge in this space has been a thrilling experience and I am excited to see how healthcare continues to evolve in this digital age. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we got to see healthcare leverage readily available technology to meet patients where they are and we have also seen this strategy expand far beyond this use case. It is very interesting to see this accelerated growth happen and be a part of it.
If you can accomplish just one thing in your career, what would it be?
It would be a great pleasure to contribute to work that highlights social determinants of care and incorporates them fully into healthcare decision-making so that we can move more towards an equitable healthcare system that treats patients as unique individuals with unique backgrounds and needs. I believe that the trust between traditionally underserved communities and the healthcare system needs to be fortified so that we can combat medical misinformation and distrust as much as possible.
How are young leaders paving the way for changes in the pharmacy profession?
I am inspired by the many innovations by young pharmacists building the pharmacy of the future. Pharmacist-led initiatives such as PrescribeSmart, MedEssist, MedMe Health amongst others are helping increase productivity in pharmacy, improve the patient’s experience of the healthcare system and leveraging the data we have to make better operational decisions. I have seen many pharmacists take up non-traditional roles in healthcare that could pool experience and knowledge to build the pharmacy of the future. I’m really excited about this.
What advice would you give to new pharmacy graduates?
As new graduates entering pharmacy practice, do not hesitate to explore. Your pharmacy degree equips you with versatile skills that can be applied in non-traditional ways to impact the healthcare system. Learn more skills outside of core clinical subjects to keep your knowledge well rounded and contribute to building our pharmacy of the future. In addition, I would like to encourage you to find little joys in the work you do. Pharmacy practice can quickly become physically and mentally draining and burn out is not uncommon however, the work we do is impactful and saves lives. Celebrate your wins, big or small and give yourself a pat on the back for choosing to be part of a noble profession.