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Pharmacy Leader profile: Sayeh Radpay – “The knowledge and expertise of pharmacists is very powerful.”

a woman posing for the camera

Education: BScPhm (University of Toronto), MBA (Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto)

Current role: President, HumanisRx

When you graduated, what did you envision for your future? 

After graduation I pursued a hospital pharmacy residency, followed by a position as a clinical pharmacist in one of the most esteemed hospitals in Canada. My goal was simple: to help people. I also found working in a hospital setting very gratifying. I envisioned my career would be as a clinical pharmacist helping patients and other healthcare providers with medication questions and needs. It was the closest setting that I knew of at the time for putting into practice to the fullest extent possible what I had learned in pharmacy school.

How important was mentoring in your career? 

Critical! I’ve had many amazing role models and mentors, both women and men, from my very first work experience to now, and I’m still learning! The Director of Pharmacy as well as the Clinical Coordinators at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre set the bar for me, practising with the same level (or higher) of expertise and intellect as physicians and other healthcare providers in the hospital. Other mentors may have conveyed different skills, such as business analysis, advocacy or marketing. Interestingly, some of my mentors probably did not even realize they were playing such a role. I consider myself fortunate to have had so many remarkable managers, colleagues and employees to learn from.

Was there an “aha” moment for you, when you realized the impact of the difference you’re making?

Very early on, when I worked part-time in a community pharmacy and helped a patient with an OTC question, seeing how appreciative they were for the advice I provided, which in my mind was very simple, was definitely an “aha” moment. It struck me that the knowledge and expertise of pharmacists is very powerful and making a difference does not have to involve being the lead author on scientific research or working in a specialized practice setting. The impact pharmacists have transcends practice settings.

As a leader in pharmacy, what continues to drive you?

Although I have not worked in a role where I provide direct patient care for a few years, the motivation behind every position I have held has been to make a positive impact on the healthcare of Canadians. Whether that has been through designing physician order entry software, providing business development opportunities for Canadian healthcare companies to succeed, developing programs for patients to engage with pharmacists, professional advocacy, helping independent pharmacies flourish, or developing medication therapy management software…my goal continues to be to fight for pharmacists and ensure Canadians can take full advantage of the expertise we have to offer.

What have been some of the highlights of your career? 

More recently, I had the opportunity to manage a small chain of pharmacies in the U.S. Being both a consumer of, and provider to the healthcare system south of the border gave me immense perspective on the Canadian healthcare system. I can confidently state that the biggest highlight of my career is right now, not due to the position I hold, but the focus I have on ensuring we “get it right” in Canada and doing whatever is within my power to steer the system in the right direction, especially as it pertains to the uptake and use of technology to advance pharmacy practice in Canada.

How are women paving the way for changes in the pharmacy profession?

Many of the strong women I know in pharmacy have been or are presently in advocacy roles, tirelessly delivering the message to regulators to enable pharmacists to practise to our full scope. Other women in pharmacy, not necessarily in formal advocacy roles, have pushed the boundaries and demonstrated that improved patient care is possible by providing pharmacy services in creative and unique ways. The persistence and creativity of all these women is paying off. They have illustrated that change is possible and the rest of us need to step up to the challenge.

What advice would you give to new female pharmacy graduates?

Dream, explore and know that it’s possible to achieve. If you are passionate about something, people can sense it and will support you. Our profession provides so many opportunities to explore your passion. My career is a testament. Don’t be afraid to follow the less conventional, less travelled paths if you find them interesting. You will continue to learn and ultimately succeed.


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