Skip to main content

Young Leader in Pharmacy Lynn D'Souza: "My goal is to foster a culture of belonging for my patients and colleagues."

Young leaders remind us that if you’re not constantly thinking about what is next, the world around you will change faster than you do.
Lynn D'Souza



PharmD (Candidate) 2023, University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy

Current Roles:

  • Third Year Pharmacy Student, University of Waterloo
  • Rx2023 Representative, Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group, University of Waterloo
  • Co-Mentorship Program Officer, Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns (CAPSI)
  • Professional Affairs Co-op Student, Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA)

What excites you about being a future pharmacist?

Pharmacy is an incredibly versatile field, where the common goal is to enhance the quality of care our patients receive. The impact on patient care can stem from direct care, research, advocacy, industry, health technology and much more. What amazes me is that the profession works as one team, mitigating barriers to care from every angle. Although pharmacists have been an underutilized resource in the past, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly highlighted the value we add to the healthcare system. It is now our responsibility to sustain and leverage this change in public perception of our professional identity and create a more resilient profession and healthcare system. 

How important is mentoring in your career?

I believe that mentorship is a pivotal part of professional development. I have been fortunate enough to be nurtured by leaders in the profession who recognized and drove my innate potential. My mentors have created a supportive atmosphere, where I felt comfortable learning from my mistakes and was encouraged to take some risks. These transformational relationships have inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and explore new opportunities.

Mentorship is a key method for cultivating new leaders in the profession. It contributes to the development of driven pharmacists who can continue to evolve the pharmacy landscape. To promote the impact that mentorship has within the field, I have been working with a team of pharmacy students to enhance the National Peer Mentorship Program, led by the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns (CAPSI). This program provides young minds an opportunity to network with pharmacists in various fields, who provide career guidance and support. While mentorship can look different from one relationship to another, I believe that the symbiotic nature of this bond truly contributes to the advancement of the individual and the profession. 

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

When the COVID-19 vaccines were first approved in Canada, I was on my co-op term at Michael Garron Hospital (in Toronto). Part of my role involved helping run the vaccination clinic. Every week we would hold a dedicated clinic for Indigenous patients where an Indigenous Elder conducted a smudging ceremony to purify and cleanse the clinic. Ceremonial practices are integral to Indigenous approaches to healing; therefore, this clinic created a culturally safe environment for patients. In addition to facing years of intergenerational trauma resulting in mistrust of the healthcare system, Indigenous Peoples have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Social factors such as overcrowding, inability to isolate and lack of access to clean water have made it difficult for them to follow public health guidance. Due to these elements, the clinic had a significant impact on enhancing vaccination rates in the community.

The “aha” moment came when the Indigenous Elder showed the community’s appreciation for our work by gifting each healthcare professional a hand-crafted necklace. Although preparing and delivering vaccines to the clinic seemed like a routine task at the time, I realized that my actions contributed to a greater purpose. My work not only impacted one patient, but an entire community. This humbling experience allowed me to recognize my privilege and dedicate time towards self-learning, so that I can continue to provide an environment where all patients feel safe and respected.

If you can accomplish one thing in your career, what would it be?

My goal is to foster a culture of belonging for my patients and colleagues in my practice. It is impossible to provide patient-centred care if you are not inclusive. A lack of understanding of the inequities that patients face limits our abilities to practise to our full scope, and I believe that addressing health inequities begins with a journey of self-reflection and learning. While I still have much learning to do, I hope to promote the practice of cultural humility – a mindset in which pharmacists are motivated to equip themselves with knowledge and seek opportunities to create a more inclusive and equitable space for our patients and colleagues.

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

A driving force for me is the fragmented healthcare system, which contributes to numerous barriers to access for patients. From the lack of financial coverage and proximity to healthcare services, to the discrimination faced by marginalized communities, the Canadian healthcare system has a lot of work to do. We must continue to recognize these shortcomings and advocate for enhancing quality of care for our patients. Currently, pharmacy consists of many amazing individuals who continue to fight for change within the profession and demonstrate the impact of persistent advocacy. Although policy change continues to be a common goal of advocacy efforts, it is important to place an equal emphasis on addressing the decision-making process by raising public awareness and empowering patients to participate in their own care.

During my co-op term at the Canadian Pharmacists Association, I had the opportunity to conduct environmental scans on pharmacy practice activities. The scans provided me with insight into ongoing gaps in care in our system, and highlighted opportunities to inform decision-making and direct future action, allowing me to recognize the extent of the healthcare system constraints and the immense potential that pharmacists have to influence the future of healthcare.

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

Young leaders foster resiliency within themselves and others. They recognize that while change is difficult, it also results in new opportunities for growth, leading to confident and courageous individuals who are not afraid to voice their opinions. One example is a recent letter from CAPSI to Canada’s Minister of Employment, advocating for the federal government to include pharmacists in the expansion of health professionals eligible to take part in the Canadian Student Loan Forgiveness Program. The letter highlighted the fact that while pharmacists have an incredible impact on care for patients in rural and remote communities, they are not currently eligible for financial incentives that are available to other health professionals working in these communities.

In addition, young leaders are agents of change due to their proactive approach to combating rising issues. They both embrace and drive innovation and quickly adapt to the world around them. The accelerated rise in digital healthcare technologies demonstrates this generation’s motivation to take on new challenges and reinvent healthcare for their patients and profession. Young leaders remind us that if you’re not constantly thinking about what is next, the world around you will change faster than you do.


This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds