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Young Leader in Pharmacy Rúben Viegas: "I like to think of young leaders as plants that blossom and show their colours and fruits"

Ruben Viegas



Master of Pharmacy, University of the Algarve, Portugal

Master in Exercise and Health, University of Lisbon, Portugal

PhD student, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lisbon, Portugal

Current role:

FIP Practice Development Projects Coordinator

What excites you about being a pharmacist?

What really excites me about being a pharmacist is the huge opportunity to support the work of pharmacists as one of the main entry gates to the healthcare systems. I had the opportunity to work in different pharmacies in Portugal and Spain and explore the challenges pharmacists face in their daily routines.

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

From my experience with sports during all my life I knew I wanted to continue to explore this area in my professional career. As a passionate pharmacist for public health and health promotion, I also thought I would like to continue working on pharmacy practice transformation, public health promotion and implementation of pharmacy services.

How has your career evolved since your graduation?

Since my graduation my career has been a roller coaster. When I graduated, I moved to Lisbon to do my Masters in Exercise and Health while working as a community pharmacist and as a trainer for a health promotion project.

After that, I moved to Brussels to do an internship in the Self-Care Industry Association (AESGP). This was a great experience as I could work in the heart of the European institutions and it gave me an entirely new perspective on policy and governance.

The internship ended and it was time to prioritize my personal life, so I moved to Barcelona close to my wife, and there I had the chance to experience community pharmacy in a different country, got to learn Catalan and was able to start working on my PhD project.

I must say that through all this time I never stopped being involved in different associations like the European Pharmaceutical Students Association (EPSA), in different roles, and now in the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) as a projects officer for the Early Career Network.

Finally, I got the job that I currently hold in FIP that I currently have for one year and where I have learned a tremendous number of new skills and gained a huge amount of knowledge about the global aspects of pharmacy practice.

How would you describe a great day at work?

I work remotely for both FIP and my PhD, so my day includes a lot of hours in front of my laptop. I try to use a standing desk whenever possible to reduce sedentary time and have a lot of walks with my dog during the day.

A great day includes creating my to-do list in the early morning and arrive at the end of the day with an organized agenda for the next day. Work never ends, so it is important to plan effectively, delegate when needed and ensure breaks during the year to avoid overburden. 

How important is mentoring in your career?

Mentoring is crucial. I have been a mentor several times for younger generations, and together with other colleagues we created a local mentoring program for the university we studied.

I also have participated as a mentee in different programmes, the most recent one by the Portuguese Young Pharmacists Association (APJF) where I was lucky enough to have Luis Lourenço (currently FIP Professional Secretary) as a mentor. In a more informal setting, I ask people I value to help me improve different skills and capabilities that I need, or I might need in the future. We know that the skills and capabilities needed to succeed are evolving fast, so we should not be working on the capabilities demanded today but rather the ones will be demanded in 5 or 10 years. 

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

I am really doing my best every day to keep up with my PhD, job and personal life, leaving less time for the important step to reflect on everything that happens. There have been some moments when friends send me pictures of an article mentioning me in a magazine and in these little interactions it tastes good to know you are being noticed in the efforts you are making. 

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

I used to be very focused on my career, but with time I learnt that there are other aspects of life, including personal relationships, that should also take a significant amount of life’s time and energy. With this I believe my biggest achievement in my career would be to be known as a pharmacist specialized in physical activity and develop an important portfolio of work in this area.

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

I believe the key is long-life learning. I like to think of young leaders as plants that blossom and show their colours and fruits. To do that, you need to nurture that plant with the essential nutrients and water it needs. It is the same for pharmacists, we need to keep learning, understand the advancements in the profession and the new technologies that come to support healthcare.  

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

Young pharmacists with leadership characteristics are essential to keep the younger pharmacy associations running and to learn from the professional organizations on how to become the leaders of those in the future. The opinion of the young leaders and the associations are key to shape the work of the professional organizations and to understand the future skills and topics that are relevant for younger generations.

What advice would you give to new pharmacy graduates?

I think my advice would focus on finding an area of pharmacy that you like, as there are many roles for pharmacists and professional areas to explore. On top of that, ensure you keep investing in yourself, build a network to support your growth and aim for the stars, as you can always land on the clouds.


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