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Young Leader in Pharmacy Tiana Tilli: "The ability to shape my practice and be constantly evolving keeps me on my toes and excited."

I'm driven by patients. Specifically, finding ways to improve the quality of healthcare patients receive while reducing barriers they face when accessing pharmacy services.
Tiana Tilli



1. Bachelor of Science (Honours) at Queen's University

2. Doctor of Pharmacy at University of Toronto

3. Accredited Canadian Pharmacy Residency at St. Michael's Hospital from University of Toronto

Current role: Clinical Pharmacist and Lecturer at the Pharmacists Clinic, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia

What excites you about being a pharmacist?

The possibilities. I went into pharmacy school because it was the perfect mix of pharmacology and interacting with people. As I completed summer placements and student rotations, I gained exposure to diverse practice settings and realized the potential pharmacists have to carve out unique positions for themselves and to make a difference in the healthcare system at all levels. The ability to shape my practice and be constantly evolving keeps me on my toes and excited.

How has your career evolved since your graduation?

The only constant in my career since graduating has been change! I've moved from hospital to industry to community to academia and primary care. As a result of these moves, I've been able to identify areas I'm passionate about and want to focus my efforts on. These areas include health equity, public health, and advocacy. As a result, the projects and teaching initiatives I work on and the practice-based research I'm involved in have evolved accordingly.

How would you describe a great day at work?

I'm very fortunate to have many great days at work in my current role. These days involve interacting with my colleagues, who make the work environment joyful and fun, and seeing the impact of a successful clinical recommendation on a patient's wellbeing. It's a great day when a patient's quality of life improves because their migraine frequency was reduced as a result of a medication I've recommended while they're waiting to see a neurologist. It's a great day when a patient is empowered to finally discontinue their sleep aids after supporting gradual tapers over several months. It's a great day when a patient is able to access drug coverage that allows them to take medications without undue financial burden because I've helped them navigate the system and find covered alternatives. While there are days that can be tough, these are the wins that keep me going.

How important is mentoring in your career?

Mentors have been instrumental in my career. I've had different mentors throughout different stages but they've consistently been individuals who have shared their wisdom and experience, provided guidance and assistance with navigating career changes, and who genuinely supported me and my growth. Because of the impact mentors have had on me, I've made the effort to be available to mentor others. Seeing mentees grow and accomplish their goals has been quite a rewarding experience.

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

While working at Whole Health Pharmacy Partners, an independent community pharmacy banner, I collaborated with a pharmacy student group from the University of Toronto, Pharmacy Awareness of Indigenous Health (PAIH), to develop infographics on Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) coverage of eligible OTC medications for eligible First Nations and Inuit clients. The "aha" moment came after we distributed the infographics to pharmacy teams across Canada and the overwhelming response from them was that it increased their awareness of the program and their ability to support patients in accessing medications. So many pharmacy team members said they hadn't learned about NIHB's OTC medication coverage program in school but planned on changing their practice as a result of seeing the infographics. Seeing the role I had in changing people's practice and the patient care they then provided showed me the impact of the difference I can make.

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

I hope to be able to effect change in my career. This could consist of helping patients achieve better health outcomes by providing them with education and the information needed to optimize their medications. It may involve contributing to practice-based research that helps change pharmacists' scope of practice. Perhaps it's making pharmacies safer spaces for IBPOC individuals, members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and/or people with disabilities because of continuing education I help develop for pharmacy team members. There are a lot of ways to effect change and I keep that in mind while working and teaching.

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

I'm driven by patients. Specifically, finding ways to improve the quality of healthcare patients receive while reducing barriers they face when accessing pharmacy services.

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

Young leaders are driving change within the profession with their passion, energy, and dedication to social justice. They're bringing awareness to the profession and to serving the needs of diverse patient populations. Existing pharmacy leaders can support their young leader colleagues by trusting them to run with their passion and providing them with the space and flexibility to make their innovative ideas the new standard of practice.

What advice would you give to new pharmacy graduates?

Be guided by what's best for patients. Think outside the box. Create opportunities for yourself. Don't get comfortable. Remember that pharmacy is a small world!


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