For many young student pharmacists unsure of their post-graduate future, even a seemingly small comment or experience can help set the tone for their pharmacy career.
This was true for David Wang, who graduated from UBC in 2012. Unsure of his future plans, it was one simple – yet bold – remark from his preceptor at a Vancouver Shoppers Drug Mart that set him on his current path.
“He said, ‘David, you’re such an active, social person. You always want to be the centre of attention,’” Wang notes, laughing at the memory. “He basically called me a diva, and my life somehow took a dramatic turn.”
Within two months of his first pharmacy job, he was asked to take over as pharmacy manager, and by 2014 became associate owner of a brand new Shoppers Drug Mart in the newly developed area of Burke Mountain in Coquitlam. while also daily managing the Burke Mountain pharmacy and is “absolutely loving every single minute of it.”
As a pharmacist and business owner, Wang was eager to make a name for himself, both to see his business succeed but also to educate his community on the expanded opportunities available within the community pharmacy model. “The more I interact with customers and community members, I can see that pharmacists are often being misinterpreted by patients and other health-care professionals,” he notes.
The young, ambitious professional set out to change the narrow view of pharmacists held by many community members, as well as make a positive impact on the lives of not only his customers, but also new immigrants to Coquitlam as well.
Partnering with the Coquitlam chapter of SUCCESS, Wang regularly volunteers to speak to large groups of new immigrants about health care in Canada, sharing information about pharmacy, vaccinations and medical coverage, in his native language of Mandarin.
Praised for his personable and knowledgeable approach to health care education awareness, Wang was encouraged to expand his outreach to local political leaders, including Coquitlam-Burke Mountain MLA Jodie Wickens and Coquitlam City Council. “I want to help local residents understand what pharmacy is all about,” he says. “People need to know what we can do to make their lives easier.”
This includes an increasing level of clinical services for Burke Mountain residents, such as flu shots, travel vaccination consultation, heart and wellness counselling and MMR vaccines for children.
“I have witnessed firsthand how David as a pharmacist and associate owner has strengthened the bond between pharmacy and government, which further offers great benefits to the local community,” says pharmacist Youna Choi.
Through Wang’s outreach, the Burke Mountain Shoppers Drug Mart has become a go-to location for political and other community leaders, such as members of the RCMP and local firefighters, to receive their annual vaccinations.
Wang also played a critical role in securing a community doctor’s office, Foothills Medical Clinic, for the developing neighbourhood, which is now located in the same retail centre as Wang’s pharmacy. In regular contact with the clinic’s health-care team, led by Dr. Darryl Ableman, Wang strives to ensure a high level of care for their combined patients, alleviating stress on the busy medical clinic.
“David and his team have helped me greatly in providing better patient care by providing the necessary medication education,” says Ableman. “His team provides vaccinations and other pharmacist-enabled clinical services which have greatly alleviated the congestion at the office during the winter. He is a leader in his field of expertise.”
Wang strives to see his vision for expanded pharmacy care inspire others to reach their full potential.
“My proudest achievement is whenever I’m able to share my vision for pharmacy,” says Wang. “Me winning this award is one thing, but if everybody could go that extra mile to educate patients about what we do, that bond would grow stronger between pharmacist and patient. This would save a lot of money in health care in BC, and at the same time, make a difference in patients’ lives.”