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Laura Quinn always wanted to work in health care. With a passion for helping people on the road to recovery, a career in pharmacy was a natural fit.
What she didn't expect was that she would be working within the walls of a hospital – in fact; she didn't know this was a possibility at all.
"Often when people think of a pharmacist, they think of the person in a white coat behind the counter at a drug store," said Quinn, clinical pharmacist on the cardiac surgery unit at Toronto General Hospital (TGH). "That's what I imagined I would be doing. That is, until a professor at the University of Toronto opened my eyes to the world of hospital pharmacy."
Hands-on hospital experience at TGH
UHN's pharmacy department is made up of in-patient and out-patient pharmacy services, staffed by pharmacists and technicians who are dedicated to ensuring safe, timely and effective drug therapy for all types of patient care. Quinn was immediately drawn to in-patient pharmacy services, and the idea of being involved in a patient's treatment plan before they leave the hospital bed.
Looking to get hands-on experience, Quinn applied for a summer co-op position at TGH doing medication reconciliation.
"The experience was invaluable," said Quinn. "I worked one-on-one with pharmacists in different programs and clinics across UHN, which allowed me to discover my interest in cardiac medicine."
After finishing pharmacy school, Quinn was offered a full-time position as a pharmacy resident."I'm still doing what I love," says Quinn
"I'm still doing what I love – I'm interacting directly with patients and other health care providers to help create the right care plan to get patients back on their feet," said Quinn. "It allows me to establish a connection to the patient and their condition, which makes helping them recover a very rewarding process."
Although her pharmacy residency has ended, the learning continues for Quinn. UHN Pharmacy places a strong emphasis on employee education and engagement, something Executive Director Emily Musing attributes to the department's success.
"One way we inspire our staff is through continuous training and education," said Musing. "For example, we created an internal certification program to train pharmacists in medication reconciliation (med rec) – a new standard of ensuring new meds don't conflict with old meds. UHN has provided leadership with respect to medication reconciliation on a national level."
Happy pharmacist, happy patient
In addition to professional development, Musing has engrained employee recognition into the corporate culture noting that "a happy pharmacist means a happy patient." One of the standing items on the monthly Pharmacy leadership meetings is a focus on upcoming awards in patient care, education and research, in which the leadership team identifies individuals within the department who could be nominated.
"Pharmacists tend to be very humble people, so it's up to our leadership team to acknowledge their hard work," said Musing. "We are always proud of the impact our staff have but it is great when there is the opportunity to ensure that they receive external recognition."
We invite you to come out and celebrate Pharmacist Awareness Month this March.
Daily events will be hosted in the main lobbies of UHN hospital sites (Toronto General, Toronto Western, Princess Margaret, Toronto Rehab) on the following days from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.:
For more information, please contact Emily Musing at Emily.Musing@uhn.ca.