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Young Leader in Pharmacy Laura Chirita: "... in pharmacy, you make a difference one patient at a time."

Laura Chirita


  • Education: Pharm. D., Université de Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • Current role: Pharmacist, Professional Services, Vigilance Santé and Member of the Board of Directors, APPSQ (Association professionnelle des pharmaciens salariés du Québec) 

What excites you about being a pharmacist?

First and foremost, pharmacists play an important role in the communities they serve. Medications are becoming increasingly available and complex, and we have the opportunity to have a real impact on individuals’ health and quality of life. The profession also allows us to be versatile and take on various roles. Personally, the best part is that it allows me to pursue several areas of interest, including health, communications, business development and management, and more recently, technology. 

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

At the beginning of my studies, I initially envisioned working in the pharmaceutical industry. An acquaintance worked for a giant in the industry, and her role seemed fascinating. My interests, however, shifted following the completion of several internships and part-time work in a community setting. As a result, upon graduation, I intended to build a clinical practice and become a pharmacist owner to combine my passions for health and management.

How has your career evolved since your graduation?

I consider myself quite fortunate to have been involved in numerous projects since graduating in 2014. I initially started working in a community setting: first for a high-volume pharmacy and afterwards for one with a lower volume, which was more compatible with my image of the practice. In 2017, I was elected to my regional pharmacy services committee, which is focused primarily on continuity of care issues. Concurrently, I involved myself with my alma mater, Université de Montréal, and started acting as a clinical associate to supervise students during their internships, and as a professional laboratory tutor. It was quite gratifying to interact with students and help them integrate practical notions. In 2018, I was offered the position of Professional Services Pharmacist at Vigilance Santé, a company with +30 years of experience developing drug databases and clinical decision support software for frontline healthcare professionals. In 2020, I was elected to the board of directors of the APPSQ, which is the professional association of salaried pharmacists in Quebec. It has been very stimulating and rewarding to work with my peers to tackle issues affecting our practice and to encourage the professional development and well-being of salaried pharmacists.

How would you describe a great day at work?

There are many different recipes for a great day. Giving presentations and interacting with users and stakeholders are all elements that I enjoy – and it never gets old to receive a positive testimonial from a client.  But for me, victory is sweeter as a team, and the best day is when we complete a milestone in a team project where each person has contributed to the overall accomplishment based on their individual backgrounds and abilities.

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

I recall an example at the beginning of my career where I helped a patient who was experiencing significant side effects from her antidepressant. A few months later, I was surprised when the patient came to see me to thank me and share how much the intervention had improved her quality of life. At that moment, I realized that in pharmacy, you make a difference one patient at a time. What may seem like a trivial intervention can actually significantly impact someone’s life, whether it is correcting a supra-therapeutic dose, managing a drug interaction, prescribing for an ailment, or directing the patient to an appropriate resource. 

While I may not deal directly with patients at Vigilance Santé, the same positive impact results from providing pharmacists and other professionals with the clinical tools needed for them to make the best decisions for their patients. Within just a few weeks of joining, a pharmacist called me to express how our software was the best part of their pharmacy system. 

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

The fact that our profession is always evolving is very motivating. A consistent driving force, and the reason for my participation in various professional committees, has been to actively contribute to the transformation of the profession and “champion” the changes to our practice. In particular, I look forward to seeing how pharmacists can leverage technology to improve operations and patient care (robotization, clinical decision support tools, virtual consultations, etc.). 

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

Of course, this is not exclusive to young pharmacy leaders, but in general, I think our generation of pharmacists: 

- Wants to be fully recognized as frontline healthcare professionals

- Desires to have good working conditions

- Is innovative and comfortable with technology

- Is increasingly willing to actively participate in public discourse on health matters.   

What advice would you give to new pharmacy graduates?

Here are five tips I wish I had received upon graduation:  

  1. Question the status quo. Don't be afraid to try different settings or even other practice areas. Don't be scared to suggest new procedures or ways of doing things in your pharmacy. The current solution is not necessarily the “right” one.  
  2. Stay curious. Information learned in school will not be current in five years. Continue to learn and take an interest in pharmacotherapy and the entire pharmacy ecosystem as it affects our practice. 
  3. Surround yourself. Create and maintain a professional network. It's gratifying and can serve you well at different times in your practice. 
  4. Trust yourself. Be confident in your knowledge and skills and use them. Who will believe in you if you don't? 
  5. Take care of yourself. The image of the oxygen mask on an airplane is accurate: we can't be there for our patients if we don't take care of ourselves. The current pandemic has been particularly challenging for healthcare workers.


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