How long have you been working at Pharmasave and have you always worked in this position?
I started at Pharmasave as a brand new pharmacist after graduating from UBC Pharmacy in June 2001. I have never worked as a pharmacist anywhere else, and I feel very fortunate because I found the best employer right out of school! I am especially lucky because Salt Spring is my hometown.
Before working at Pharmasave, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had? After high school, I worked for the BC Ferries. That was a great job with a safe future, and I learned a lot working in the cafeteria, in the terminals and on deck as a deckhand ― but I was young and I longed to do something fun and exciting. After 2 years on the ferries, I asked for a leave of absence. My request was denied, so I quit. I started as a server and then as a bartender at the legendary Vesuvius Inn in 1988. I worked there on and off in between travels for 7 years. I developed deep relationships and friendships with both patrons and coworkers that I cherish to this day. I was lucky to be part of Vesuvius's "Hey Days" when neighbours could come to a place that was as comfortable as their own home to enjoy music, conversation, games, scenery, and good food. I feel that both BC Ferries and Vesuvius Inn gave me skills to do anything I wanted to do in life. I decided to go back to school and get a degree. Pharmacy was never on my radar when I started university, but as I negotiated my way through academia, finding myself drawn to biology, chemistry, genetics, microbiology, virology and immunology courses, I found that Pharmacy was my calling.
What is your favourite part about working at Pharmasave? I love coming to work because of my coworkers, whether in the dispensary, out on the floor, or upstairs in administration. Some of them have been employed by the Ramsey/Utter family for well over 20 years! It feels like a home away from home. Our team in the dispensary is very dedicated and treats all of our customers and patients as if they were part of their family.
What kind of thing(s) make your day? How often does that happen to you? I understand that my profession is one of the least understood professions in the medical field. So many times I have been chastised with "How long does it take to count 30 pills?" or "It's right there on the shelf! Why can't you just give it to me?" But it is so much more than that. When you present me with your prescription, I need to perform a number of steps to make sure that you are getting the right medication, at the right dose, for the right reason without interfering with any other medications that you might be taking. I need to make sure that your records are updated and correct, and I need to perform the final check that the pharmacy assistant chose the right bottle and counted the correct number that was prescribed. If I detect a problem, I will need to contact your prescribing physician to discuss your medication and make adjustments if needed. What makes my day is spending time with patients discussing their medications, including any nonprescription medications they are taking, and making sure that they are not taking anything that could lead to a potentially dangerous interaction. I feel that my patients really appreciate my knowledge and are grateful that I spend the time to look out for their health and well-being. Although my day might include the odd person who denigrates my attempts to help, my day is filled with so many others who do appreciate my expertise and my honest desire to maintain their health and safety, and this is what is most gratifying.
Tell us about someone or something that influenced you to become a pharmacist. My influences were not pharmacists, but they were very caring health professionals. They were Veterinarians: Claus Andress and Derek Milton. When I was considering going to university, I thought I would become a vet. I volunteered at the Gulf Islands Vet Clinic for about a year, and I observed Claus and Derek as they performed procedures from minor check-ups to major surgeries. Although veterinary medicine was not my calling, I always look back on their kindness and love for their clients ― both animals and owners ― and I try to live up to their standard of practice.
When you aren’t working, what is your favourite thing to do and why? One of the things I love to do when I am not at work is to spend time with my horse. Copper is a 12-year-old chestnut quarter horse with a huge heart. She has given me that little something that was missing in my life. It’s very hard to explain what that was. I have a wonderful family, a great job, a beautiful home ― and yet, there was something still missing. I was crazy for horses as a little girl, and I never really grew out of it. I had a horse when I was a girl, but we moved, and I couldn't keep her. I always thought I would have another horse, but circumstances were never right. After finishing university, obtaining a career, and being blessed with an amazing family, I finally realized I had the ability to own a horse. I found Copper. I can't explain my horse craziness to someone who does not understand horses ― but if you love animals, you will understand the connection that you can make with another being without using words. It is a connection of the soul, and it makes me whole.