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My Journey To Becoming A Pharmacist Owner

Updated: 23 hours ago

What led you to pursue a degree in Pharmacy?" Well, picture this: on the first day of college, I was all set to wow my classmates with a profound reason for choosing Pharmacy. I mean, I didn't have any famous pharmacists in my family tree to live up to, and my dreams of inheriting a drugstore empire were, well, non-existent. There was no inspiring answer I could think of.

I chose Biology as my first choice and Pharmacy as an alternative in my college application. When the entrance examination results came out, I was waitlisted in Biology but got accepted in Pharmacy. Embrace the twist of fate, I told myself. It's like the universe was telling me, "Hey forget dissecting frogs, let's mix some potions instead!" Who knew destiny had a prescription waiting just for me?

pharmacist owner

The journey of life is full of unforeseen surprises, and mine took a turn when I learned about the opportunity for Filipino pharmacists to work in Canada. Previously, acquiring a license to practice in Canada required substantial financial resources for exams, studies, and internships, making it a nearly unattainable goal for me. However, thanks to Zellers, this unique chance was made available to Filipino pharmacists.

The initial challenge we faced was the Evaluating Examination for international pharmacy graduates. We had to spend a week in Vancouver getting ready for the test. I didn't sleep at all during that week and relied on my Maalox bottle to soothe my anxious stomach. Thankfully, my prayers were answered, and I was among the successful candidates who returned to Canada to begin this demanding journey.

I can still vividly recall the moment when I witnessed snow falling for the first time through the windows of a lecture room at the University of Toronto. At that moment, I couldn't help but wonder, "Could this experience become any more surreal?" The initial months in Canada were a whirlwind of adjusting to the nuances of pharmacy practice and the local way of life. While I had braced myself for culture shock, I was pleasantly surprised to find a community of diligent individuals from diverse backgrounds striving to achieve their aspirations. I was particularly impressed by the proactive involvement of pharmacists in patient care, which encompassed identifying and resolving medication-related issues, offering patient counseling, and collaborating with physicians and other healthcare professionals. This novel approach was entirely unfamiliar to me, igniting a newfound enthusiasm within me to learn and embrace this innovative perspective. I was one step closer to the finish line when I was relocated to British Columbia to complete my internship after successfully passing the qualifying examination and OSCE. After several months, I shouted my final ‘Hooray!’ and headed north to Williams Lake, where I could begin my career as a licensed pharmacist.

I was excited to begin my work, but soon found myself as the sole pharmacist responsible for covering the full fifty-four hours per week that the pharmacy was open. Adjusting to life in a small rural community was a challenge, with an eight-hour drive to Vancouver and only a few hours' drive to reach any other town or city. Adding to the difficulty, I received the devastating news of my father's passing. In moments of physical exhaustion and emotional strain, both at work and in my personal life, I reminded myself of the sacrifices I had made and the loved ones I had left behind to pursue my ambitions. I made a vow to endure and persevere through it all.

Fast forward to 2020. At that point, I had been a licensed pharmacist in Canada for fifteen years, practicing in Alberta for eight years. After moving from Williams Lake to Vernon, we ultimately decided to relocate to Edmonton for a fresh start. Following Zellers' acquisition by Target in 2012, I transitioned to working as a staff pharmacist for Canada's top pharmacy retailer. I had a supportive husband and an eleven-year-old son, to whom I was a dedicated mother. While the idea of establishing my pharmacy, as many other Filipino pharmacists had done, lingered in my thoughts, I was content with my current situation. Despite the potential rewards of running my practice, I was hesitant to take risks and make significant changes in our lives.

Abruptly, a pandemic emerged and started impacting people's lives. Personally, it served as a stark reminder of life's brevity. The realization that the good things preventing me from leaving a challenging work environment could vanish in an instant left me feeling apprehensive about potential regrets and dissatisfaction. The pharmacy manager's intimidating behavior towards me and the pharmacy staff, coupled with the owner's lack of support and expectation for us to endure the toxic workplace, disheartened me. I felt unappreciated for my hard work and frustrated by the inability to practice pharmacy according to my preferences. I was prepared for a change.

Whole Health Pharmacy Edmonton was established on November 6, 2021! This marked a significant step for me as I ventured into pharmacy ownership, stepping out of my comfort zone with newfound confidence. This opportunity allowed me to have complete control over patient care, enabling me to drive positive health outcomes. With additional prescribing authority, diabetes education certification, and extensive experience in administering injections, I am committed to making quality healthcare more accessible to all. This endeavor has reignited my passion for building meaningful connections with individuals from diverse backgrounds and has brought my family closer together as I share my pharmacy journey with my husband and son.

Believing in the power of patience, hard work, perseverance, and determination, I embarked on the journey of owning my pharmacy. While the road ahead may not be easy, I am certain that the challenges will be worth it. Beyond financial gains, I see this endeavor as a triumph of personal growth. With unwavering faith, a drive to make a difference, and a dedication to a meaningful pharmacy career, I am fully committed to this path of fulfillment.

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1 Comment

elmira bacatan
elmira bacatan
Apr 06, 2022

You always had it in you Rose -- brilliance on top of sheer perseverance! Congratulations

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