Pharmacy Leadership Award 2018: Tara Oxford

Updated on July 25, 2018 (Originally posted on May 26, 2018) The Tablet

Title Pharmacy Manager
Workplace London Drugs
Location Courtenay

Never one to rest on her laurels, Tara Oxford has always believed in pushing beyond her comfort zone, in life and career.

Born and raised in the UK, Oxford first stepped foot in a pharmacy at 16 when she applied for a weekend assistant position. Finding the work interesting and challenging, Oxford’s career quickly escalated, moving from pharmacy technician to licensed pharmacist to store manager for UK pharmacy giant Boots, all within a few short years.

“I was only nine weeks licensed as a pharmacist when I became a store manager,” she recalls of her budding career. “Suddenly I’m in the throes of running an entire store, with different levels of capabilities and skillsets, as well as being a pharmacist.”

She relished the challenge, acquiring skills in performance management and conflict resolution while simultaneously building her expertise as a pharmacist. While Oxford’s career flourished, her entire perspective changed in 2005 with the arrival of her daughter, Charlotte. Her birth had awakened in her and husband, Ian, a long-forgotten dream of moving to Canada, which now felt essential to their future as a family.

“We just thought, ‘Our future is in Canada, our daughter’s future is in Canada,” notes Oxford, who first fell in love with B.C. and its natural beauty, wide open spaces, friendly people and overall quality of life on her first visit in 1998.

Determined to turn their dream into reality, Oxford used a family connection to correspond with London Drugs, in the hope the company would sponsor her immigration.

“The first time we ever came to Canada, I thought, ‘This is it, this is who I want to work for,” she says. “I love that it’s still family-owned, I love the way it’s set up with the consultation booths at front. It suited perfectly what I needed as a pharmacist.”

London Drugs agreed to sponsor Oxford, and in winter 2008, the family moved to the small town of Courtenay on Vancouver Island, where the pharmacist has made an indelible impact, within the store as well as within the greater pharmacist community. As a certified anti-coagulation specialist and diabetes educator, Oxford uses her expansive skillset to provide a high level of care to her patients, many of whom have become personal family friends, as well as training and coaching opportunities with her staff.

Oxford is currently serving her third year as a Board member with the College of Pharmacists of BC, helping to enhance the overall scope of practice of pharmacy, through such projects as pharmacist prescribing, medical assistance in dying (MAID) and take home naloxone kits, among others. She has participated in phase one and is currently in phase two of the BCPhA’s pharmacogenomics research study, in partnership with Genome BC. And the busy manager and mom of two also co-leads a pharmacist working group in her own island community, bringing together local pharmacists to discuss different topics monthly.

“It’s all about integrating the practice within our own community,” she says. “It’s about patient care, promoting the profession and elevating our practice as a whole.”

This article is featured in The Tablet. The Tablet features pharmacy and industry news, profiles on B.C. pharmacists, information on research developments and new products.