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Young Leader in Pharmacy Renly Lim: "... we are so versatile that the opportunities are endless."

Renly Lim, Young Leader in Pharmacy

In 2022, in collaboration with Sherif Guorgui, co-CEO of OnPharm-United, we are featuring a new weekly series highlighting a Young Leader in Pharmacy from across Canada and around the world. For the purpose of the series, will be adopting FIP Young Pharmacists Group's age criterion…which is under 35 years of age.


President of the International Pharmaceutical Federation’s Young Pharmacists Group

Education: MPharm, PhD Pharmacy

Current role:

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early Career Fellow, University of South Australia

President, International Pharmaceutical Federation Young Pharmacists Group (FIP YPG)

What excites you about being a pharmacist?

Knowing that we are so versatile that the opportunities are endless. We are trained not only to be medicine experts, but the diverse curriculum during undergraduate training and the nature of our profession mean we also acquire many transferable skills essential to succeed in our career and in life.

Late last year, the FIP YPG launched a Career Development Toolkit for early career pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists. Besides being a tremendous resource for young professionals wanting to develop themselves and their careers, the toolkit also lists over 130 jobs that we can venture into. How amazing is that!

How has your career evolved since your graduation?

Since graduation about a decade ago, my career path has certainly taken all sorts of twists and turns. I started my career as a hospital pharmacist in a public hospital in Malaysia. Two years later, I resigned to start my PhD and also joined a medical device company based in Liechtenstein, where I led a clinical trial to test a medical device for stress urinary incontinence.

In 2016, I joined the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Thailand, to work on a community engagement program for malaria elimination that was funded by the Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom. Over the last five years I have been working at the University of South Australia in Adelaide as a pharmacist researcher, working primarily in the field of quality use of medicines and medication safety.

In 2019 I was elected as the President of the International Pharmaceutical Federation Young Pharmacists Group (FIP YPG). I served as President-Elect in 2020 and currently as the President.

I feel like I have done a bit of everything I ever wanted to do, but I am still excited to continue to explore new things.

How important is mentoring in your career?

I personally never really had a mentor and don’t know if I ever will actively look for one. Advisors yes, but not mentors. I seek advice for various things from many different people. People whom I got to know through different avenues – from university days, workplace, professional organizations, networking events and so on. Advisors play quite a different role and level of involvement from a mentor. For me, having an extensive network of people I can reach out to for advice is far more important than having one (or a few) mentors. Having said that, I know of many people who have benefited tremendously from mentoring. In fact, we have an annual FIP YPG mentorship program precisely for this reason.

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

There were so many “aha” moments but I don’t know if I can call it an “aha” moment anymore! So often I am reminded by my patients, peers and superiors about my contribution to the pharmacy profession and my work to improve patient outcomes. For example, last year I was nominated by my supervisor for the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Early Career Pharmacist Award, which I won. Recently I gave a medication safety talk to a group of older adults. The next day one of the older adults emailed me, saying: “Thank you for your first-class presentation on improving the safety of the use of medicines among older people (plus, as a bonus, you told us a bit about your personal life journey), which was very well received by your audience of 50 oldies. I think we all wanted to adopt you…..!!!” Knowing what I do has a real impact on people’s lives is an amazing feeling.

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

I would like to work towards everyone having access to safe medicines and health services.

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

For years we have seen more experienced pharmacists taking on leadership positions within organizations. There is certainly a shift in how we perceive the role of the younger generation in the pharmacy profession. More and more young people are stepping up to take leadership positions so that we can be directly involved in decision making process.

Recognizing that there is no health without a pharmaceutical workforce, we the young leaders constantly advocate for capacity building and training of young pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Training the next generation of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists and ensuring a diverse representation of people at the leadership table, I believe, are critical to advancing the profession globally.

I feel really proud we have at least achieved one form of diversity in our FIP YPG steering committee. Three of our five steering committee members are women! Our steering and subcommittee team consist of 45 members from 21 countries. Together with the more experienced leaders at the FIP, we work collaboratively to bring about the change we want to see in our profession.

What advice would you give to new pharmacy graduates?

Seek help and help others. Connect with people who will help guide and support you as you embark on this new exciting journey, and also connect with those you can help and support along their journey. As clichéd as it sounds, none of us is as strong or as smart as all of us. Your career journey will not miraculously be smooth-sailing if you ask for help, but the journey will be 10 times harder if you don’t.


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