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Young Leader in Pharmacy John Lee: Young leaders are innovative – and that's how we pave the way for change

John Lee


Pharmacy Advocate, podcast co-host, incoming medical operations fellow


PharmD 2022, University of British Columbia

Current Role:

Just a 4th year pharmacy student!

What excites you about being a pharmacy student and soon-to-be industry fellow?

Pharmacy is exciting because it is currently in a season of change. There is a movement of pharmacists becoming more clinically based, as well as exploring diverse opportunities beyond the traditional direct-patient care environments, such as within the pharmaceutical industry like medical affairs, regulatory affairs, operations, policy and compliance, leadership, and more.

As an incoming industry resident, I am excited to work collaboratively with cross-functional teams as I gain exposure to the diverse complexities of our healthcare system and the bio-pharmaceutical industry. I want to be able to make systems-level changes and provide a greater healthcare experience for patients, their families, and for my colleagues. Therefore, by diving into the midst of healthcare discovery and innovation, I can contribute to that change.

How important is mentorship in your career?

Mentorship has been monumental for me, and it comes in different shapes and forms. Mentorship has shaped the way I provide leadership and perceive problems. It has broadened my perspectives in many ways: pharmacy-related and beyond.

I personally believe that without mentorship, I would not have taken the important risks that I've taken so far and would fall short in my personal learning experiences, all of which have greatly influenced who I am today. So yes, I think mentorship is quite important!

Was there an "aha" moment for you, when you realized the impact of the difference you're making?

One "aha" moment where I realized that I was having an impact on others was seeing thousands of pharmacy students and pharmacists supporting the initiative to advocate for pay-equity for pharmacy student immunizers in British Columbia.

I have never seen pharmacy students and pharmacists band together so strongly before. Seeing this with my own eyes, reading up on all the comments and advocacy support from my peers and those around me, it was truly an inspiring and impactful experience for me to see people taking action and supporting one another.

This made me realize the impact that we can have, and in fact, do have, for each other. We just need to speak up and do something about it (aka advocate!).

As a dynamic leader in the profession, what continues to drive you?

Supporting my team and those around me – this is what inspires, motivates, and drives me. There are a lot of problems in many industries, and the healthcare system is no exception. However, rather than working in silos, by collaborating and supporting one another, we can drive real change and implement impactful solutions.

How are young leaders paving the way for changes in the pharmacy profession?

Young leaders are innovative – and that's the way we pave the way for change. Understanding that the pharmacy profession and landscape is changing more than ever, young leaders are identifying new avenues and solutions to continue providing value to patients and the healthcare system.

I also believe that young leaders are resilient. They are vocal about what is working and what is not working, then seeking solutions and implementing strategic improvement models to drive an impact. This is how young leaders innovate and lead - and this is how we achieve change.

What advice would you give to pharmacy students and new pharmacy graduates?

1) Keep an open perspective and try new things. I find that at times, we are so fixated on a set of goals or desired outcomes that we miss ample opportunities that come along our way.

2) Never be complacent. The only thing that's constant is change (because things are and will constantly change), so it's ever-so-important that we welcome and embrace change in order to continue to be impactful in what we do.

3) Do not fear failure. Taking risks and failing are one of the best ways that we can learn, especially as students! Achieving 'success' is meaningless if you didn't learn anything along the way, but 'failing' and learning from your experience and journey – that will serve you well. 




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