While many 15-year-olds pursue part-time jobs for extra cash and work experience, not many would say their juvenile weekend gig parlayed into a fulfilling, lifetime career lauded by a national collective of colleagues, government officials and health-care professionals alike.
Marshall Moleschi was fortunate enough to be one of those few. Looking for a part-time job in his hometown of Langley, the retired pharmacist, health administrator and registrar became a stock boy at one of the two pharmacies operating in the Fraser Valley suburb in the late 1960s.
Watching owner Jock McKinnon – one of the very first graduates of UBC’s pharmacy degree program – interact with patients was so inspiring to the impressionable teen that Moleschi made the firm decision to follow in his mentor’s footsteps.
“He had such respect with his patients,” Moleschi fondly recalls of his first boss.
Aided by a local pharmacy scholarship – which he only later found out was jointly funded especially for him by McKinnon and his competitor – Moleschi graduated from UBC in 1974, with a pharmacy degree and a quest for adventure.
His burgeoning career took him from Kitimat to Prince Rupert to Salmon Arm, where he was involved from the ground up in B.C’s first pharmacy co-op before pursuing a clinical opportunity as pharmacy manager at Shuswap Lake General Hospital, pioneering a number of innovative pharmacy initiatives, including drug interaction alerts, specialized hospital software and distance pharmacy services for 11 health-care facilities spread out across 500 kilometers and three mountain ranges.
With a strong desire to influence the enhancement of overall patient care, Moleschi completed a Masters of Health Administration degree and spent more than a decade in senior leadership roles enacting positive change for the improvement of health outcomes, including as chief operating officer for the North Okanagan Health Region, an executive with the Health Association of BC and as director of pharmacy for both the East Kootenay Health Region and Northern Health.
“Marshall is a very courageous person,” says Randy Konrad, president of the BC Pharmacy Association. “He was willing to step outside of his comfort zone to take on positions and tasks that he knew would not be easy.”
Throughout this time frame, Moleschi was actively engaged with the advocacy and regulatory bodies guiding the pharmacy profession forward, spearheading the introduction of PharmaNet as a member of the former Council of the College of Pharmacists of BC and later collaborating on the first-ever pharmacist prescribing authority in Canada for emergency contraception, as president of the BCPhA.
While many would give pause over the number of hours involved in voluntary professional leadership roles, Moleschi was dutifully committed: “I wanted to be involved in my profession, and I saw a need for pharmacists to practice to the fullness of our knowledge, skills and ability.”
“I wanted to be involved in my profession, and I saw a need for pharmacists to practice to the fullness of our knowledge, skills and ability.”
In 2005, Moleschi entered into a new phase of his already illustrious career, accepting the influential role of registrar of the College of Pharmacists of BC, at the precipice of a critical time of change for the pharmacy industry, its professionals and most importantly, for its patients.
During his six-year tenure, the College introduced prescription renewals and adaptations, injections certification, and for which Moleschi himself is most proud, the regulation of pharmacy technicians.
“Marshall is a pioneer in all of his accomplishments,” says Bal Dhillon, director of the Pharmacy Technician Society of BC. “When obstacles were put in front of him, he was able to make it work. He wasn’t just a figurehead at the College, he was active in making changes to ensure public safety.”
“Marshall’s top qualities are the ability to envision on a big-picture level innovative outcomes for the pharmacy profession and its members, while ensuring the needs of the public are prioritized and achievable,” adds Linda Lytle, Moleschi’s predecessor as College registrar.
Not one to dwell in his ivory tower, Moleschi was an active and engaged member in the greater health-care community, building relationships, gaining understanding and unifying competing interests.
“Marshall put himself out there as the face of the College,” says Konrad. “People will always better support a person than an institution. Marshall made a point of developing those relationships with the pharmacists of B.C. so that the regulator was seen as a person rather than an institution.”
For Moleschi, it was always about improved health outcomes for patients: “As pharmacy increased its scope of practice, we helped government and other areas of health care to look at changes from a perspective to focus on patients and how can we have wins for all of the stakeholders involved.”
Following his immense achievements in B.C., Moleschi was recruited as registrar of the Ontario College of Pharmacists. Motivated by the prospect of enabling a critical mass of forward-thinking pharmacy professionals across Canada, Moleschi spent the last five years of his career in Ontario, before retiring to the Okanagan with partner Karen Wolfe in 2016.
An avid outdoorsman, golfer and family man, Moleschi is thoroughly enjoying his retirement after dedicating 50 years of his life to the profession.
“It feels really good to have done the best you could and then pass on the torch to the next generation,” says Moleschi. “I feel good that the profession will be functioning really well, especially with Canada’s aging population. The pharmacists of today and tomorrow are well set up to make a difference. It’s a thinking profession even more than a doing profession, and that’s really good for the people of British Columbia.”