Young Leader in Pharmacy Reena Lavji: "The pharmacy profession in Canada is evolving every single day."
What continues to drive me is being able to continue to learn, be challenged, and make an impact on patients’ lives. Another big driver for me is my kids.
By Pharmacy U
Honours Bachelor of Science, Psychology (University of Guelph)
Masters of Pharmacy (Keele University)
International Pharmacy Graduate (University of Toronto)
Senior Medical Advisor, Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.
Pharmacy Resident Supervisor, Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.
What excites you about being a pharmacist?
What excites me about being a pharmacist is that there is a variety of career paths that a pharmacist can choose from to, directly or indirectly, impact patients’ lives.
How has your career evolved since your graduation?
When I first graduated, I went from working in retail pharmacy to being a consultant pharmacist in long-term-care, servicing several nursing and retirement homes. In this position, I was able to use my skills as a pharmacist to help patients who were facing many different medical conditions and was able to work alongside many knowledgeable physicians and nurses.
After this, I wanted to take on a new challenge, so I began exploring work as a pharmacist in the pharmaceutical industry. Novo Nordisk Canada Inc was hiring for a medical affairs project manager to assist the medical advisor with a launch of a medication in the obesity space. In this position, I took on the challenge of not only being an expert in a therapeutic area that was new to me, but also to learn and become a medical expert in the pharmaceutical industry, particularly in medical affairs.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to work on, as well as be the medical lead for, the launch of new medications in diabetes as well as obesity as a senior medical advisor. I am now able to make an impact on patients' lives nationwide. I do this by working with key opinion leaders and medical associations in Canada and by educating HCPs and allied HCPs on disease state awareness and upcoming and available pharmacological treatment options. I also have the opportunity to generate real world evidence, and work closely with and provide medical guidance to my cross-functional colleagues, including medical science liaisons, strategic operations, clinical development, marketing, patient access, and sales.
How would you describe a great day at work?
A great day at work for me is one where I am able to witness the impact of our work in diabetes and obesity. Hearing that even just one more HCP/allied HCP has recognized obesity as a chronic disease and has understood the value of pharmacotherapy in this space makes me smile. This, combined with being provided with learning opportunities by colleagues and HCPs, would make it a great day at work.
How important is mentoring in your career?
Mentoring in my career is extremely important. Having mentors throughout my career is what has helped me to grow and what continues to provide me with the guidance and role modeling that I need to continue progressing in my career. Being the pharmacy resident supervisor gives me the privilege of being able to provide mentorship to recent PharmD students who join Novo Nordisk. As a mentor, I’m able share learnings from my career path as well as provide guidance to other pharmacists who are learning about the pharmaceutical industry and trying to learn what their passion is. I’m also able to help them to explore and learn about the different career paths available to them as pharmacist.
If you can accomplish just one thing in your career, what would it be?
If I could accomplish one thing in my career, it would be to inspire others in the healthcare field to find their passion and drive change.
As a dynamic leader in the profession, what continues to drive you?
What continues to drive me is being able to continue to learn, be challenged, and make an impact on patients’ lives. Another big driver for me is my kids. I want them to grow up knowing that if you have the will and the passion to help others, then nothing’s stopping you from pursuing a career that allows you to do that.
How are young leaders paving the way for changes in the pharmacy profession?
The pharmacy profession in Canada is evolving every single day. Young leaders are taking on challenges and recognizing opportunities to voice themselves and drive innovation.
What advice would you give to new pharmacy graduates?
Keep an open mind to new opportunities, even those which are out of your comfort zone.
Never let failure stop you from achieving your goals. Instead, take those experiences and turn them into learning opportunities.
It may take time to find your ‘niche’ and a career that you’re passionate about, but don’t give up, it will come.