“Insightful”: A College Co-op Student Shares His Experience

Pic of Stefan Sookbir
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Stefan Sookbir is a third year Doctor of Pharmacy student at the University of Waterloo. He joined the College for a four-month co-op term in the fall of 2022.

How would you describe your experience at the College this Fall?

If I were to describe my experience at the College with one word, it would be ‘insightful’. Prior to working with the College, most of my experience has been in the community pharmacy setting. However, going into this co-op term I wanted to pursue a role that allowed me to have a high-level impact on patient care rather than the individual impact fostered in traditional clinical roles.

During my time at the College, I was able to work on various projects with the community practice and conduct teams to develop a deeper understanding of the profession’s regulatory framework and its impact on public safety. This experience exposed me to the non-clinical roles available to pharmacists that still contribute to positive patient outcomes.

Overall, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work for the College alongside a supportive and knowledgeable team that is dedicated to ensuring public safety.

What kind of projects did you complete for the College? What was the most interesting project you worked on?

Though all projects have been insightful, the highlight of my experience was working with the community practice team on the Pharmacy Safety Initiative to propose the idea of mandating time-delayed safes to curb the rising rates of pharmacy robberies in Ontario.

My work involved contributing to research on the efficacy of time-delayed safes in robbery prevention to help create the recommendation for the Board of Directors. It was fulfilling to contribute to regulatory changes that will hopefully have a lasting effect on the safety of patients and staff within pharmacies across the province.

What were the most important things you learned while working at the College?

The College was constantly adapting to the environment to achieve its goal of maintaining public safety.

A great example of this is the College responding to the increasing number of pharmacy robberies by mandating time-delayed safes. This was a reminder of the ever-changing nature of the profession and the adaptable approach that is required, especially from a regulatory standpoint.

Working closely with the AIMS Program highlighted the importance of shifting from a blame culture to safety culture. Through this work, I realized how the design of the AIMS Program inherently fosters learning from medication incidents and near misses rather than taking a punitive approach. Moving forward in my career, I will employ these same values that focus on open communication and transparency to optimize patient safety.

How do you think your experience this fall will help you with your future career in pharmacy?

Throughout my experience at the College, I have been exposed to the back end of how the pharmacy profession is governed and regulated. This has provided me with the unique opportunity to leverage my clinical knowledge and newly developed knowledge in regulation to have a high-level impact on patient safety.

In this role, I have gained a better understanding of the opportunities that pharmacists have outside of the ‘traditional’ clinical roles in community or hospital practice. As having this high-level impact on patient care has proven to be rewarding, I plan to further explore different opportunities pharmacists have in ‘non-traditional’ roles. With that being said, I am excited to see where my career leads me in the future.

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