When Shoppers Drug Mart Associate Owner Bojana Dzombeta first emigrated from former Yugoslavia at 17 years old, she had dreams of following in the illustrious footsteps of her extended family members, many of whom served as physicians and other health-care professionals in her home country.
But landing in Vancouver as a teenager with no English, Dzombeta was concerned her language abilities would hold her back so she convinced herself to pursue a different path.
“Because of my English, I explored the option of doing computer science, which I hated,” says Dzombeta, laughing.
The outgoing, driven and caring professional needed a career in which she could interact with and positively impact other people. So, she returned to her family’s roots in health care, pursuing health sciences while also overcoming her language barrier.
“I had some challenging days where I just didn’t feel like I had energy to do all of this,” says Dzombeta. “But my parents always pushed my brother and I to finish university and get good jobs. It was a must in my family.”
Feeling confident in her redirected studies, Dzombeta’s master plan was to earn her pharmacy degree followed by a medical education, but after graduation she surprised herself with a desire to explore the profession before committing to medicine.
Coming on board as a pharmacist with Shoppers Drug Mart in 2001, Dzombeta moved up to associate owner in just several years as well as earning her
Canadian Diabetes Educator (CDE) designation, thriving as a sought after specialized pharmacist.
“You really want to be the best at what you do,” Dzombeta says, crediting her parents with instilling a strong work ethic in both her and her brother, also a pharmacist/owner on the North Shore. “This designation provided another challenge, more contact with patients one-on-one and a collaborative professional environment with other health-care professionals.”
In 2008, Dzombeta had the opportunity to relocate to a fast-paced Burnaby Shoppers, in a very competitive neighbourhood across from Metropolis at Metrotown, B.C.’s largest shopping centre.
“I had to really stand out and differentiate myself,” says Dzombeta, who worked tirelessly to network with health-care professionals in nearby physicians’ offices, as well as Burnaby Hospital, and, above all, provide exceptional patient care.
“Bojana has a way of creating a calm environment where she helps our patients to overcome any fears they may have and answer any concerns they bring up,” says Dr. Mirjana Pavlic, a Burnaby-based endocrinologist. “She even accompanies patients to their appointments with myself which shows her devotion to a successful outcome for her patients.”
Finding her niche and passion in diabetes education, Dzombeta is thrilled to be in a position that allows her to provide critical care for patients in need, as well as serve as a trusted member of many patients’ collaborative health-care team, accompanying patients to appointments, tailoring diet plans to many different ethnic backgrounds and food preferences, and personally monitoring daily blood glucose levels for up to 10 patients at a time.
“She is the most kind, caring and compassionate person I have ever known,” says Randy Drew, a 64-year-old patient recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Dzombeta spent more than two weeks personally texting Drew daily with guidance on insulin dosage, testing and food choices until he wrapped his head around the disease.
“She worked tirelessly from morning until night to help me. I literally owe her my life.”
Working more than 60 hours a week running the pharmacy and the business, in addition to home deliveries, physician appointments and ongoing communication through text, phone and email, Dzombeta has dedicated her life to helping patients manage their illness.
“Bojana is a hard working individual that has always put her patients first,” says Erin Turnbull, head pharmacy assistant.
“She goes above and beyond when caring for her patients. She saves lives on a daily basis and is the epitome of what it means to be a pharmacist.”
Dzombeta feels proud of her achievements and her ability to make a direct impact on the lives of so many patients in need.
“To me, it’s all about patient outcomes,” she says. “You want to keep that relationship alive, you want to cherish your patients. It’s you who is ultimately telling them what to do, educating on their lifestyle. Their health is in my hands and I don’t give up until I achieve the results we’re working towards.”