New Practitioner Award 2024: Jas Bahniwal

Updated on May 31, 2024 (Originally posted on May 14, 2024) The Tablet

Jas Bahniwal
New Practitioner Award
Pharmacy Manager, Pharmasave #1028
Penticton, B.C.

There was never a question that Jas Bahniwal would be working in health care. 

Four of his family members work in the vicinity of Penticton Regional Hospital. His mother is a care aide, his father is a licenced practical nurse, and two aunts work as housekeeper and nurse, respectively, at the hospital. 

The 2024 New Practitioner Award recipient got his start in pharmacies as an assistant while completing his undergraduate degree in university. It was in part thanks to his relationship with this initial pharmacy that opened the door to his first opportunity after graduation. Bahniwal, who graduated from the University of B.C.’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2021, now works as pharmacy manager at the community pharmacy located within the Penticton Regional Hospital itself, Pharmasave #1028. 

“The manager at my first pharmacy actually reached out to me. His wife was working at the hospital and she was going on maternity leave, so they recommended that I apply and I ended up getting the job,” Bahniwal said.

“It’s a unique situation for sure. It’s just like being at home and it’s a great experience to have my family there, sometimes they’ll stop by during breaks, or we’ll bring each other lunch.”

Operating a community pharmacy inside a hospital is a somewhat unique experience, he said. Much of his regular patients are hospital staff themselves, or patients being discharged from the hospital. This means that his regular patients often know a lot more about health care than the average person in the community, and the interactions can make for some interesting conversations.

“They all have a higher baseline knowledge. The way we interact and explain things will be different. They’ll have more detailed questions, they’ll want to know more about the medication and the interactions,” Bahniwal said.

Jas Bahniwal

Jas Bahniwal, pharmacy manager at Pharmasave Penticton Regional Hospital, has been crucial to physicians in supporting urgent requests for medical assistance in dying dispenses.

Since taking over the pharmacy, he’s built a reputation among the doctors at the hospital, particularly in the area of emergent cases of medical assistance in dying (MAID) among hospital patients. This was important for doctors at the hospital, especially during the pandemic. Some pharmacies in the area scaled back services, Bahniwal said, and the number of locations that dispensed MAID was limited. 

“There were many doctors who called me and these were last-minute requests, where they told me their regular pharmacy couldn’t fill their MAID request. That’s how I started getting in contact with many of these prescribers,” he said. “We have never refused a MAID because of time. Often the requests will come as a heads up, that they know this patient is deteriorating and we might be scheduled for a week or two weeks from now. But then the patient really deteriorates overnight, and suddenly they need it as soon as possible.” 

While his pharmacy hours are only during weekdays, the emergent nature of the MAID requests means Bahniwal is occasionally called back to work on Saturdays or Sundays to accommodate the last-minute requests. It was some of these doctors who relied on Bahniwal who ended up nominating him for the 2024 Pharmacy Excellence Awards.  

“I thought maybe it was the owner of the pharmacy. The physicians who nominated me are great individuals to work with. It’s a huge honour. They’re the ones who made me comfortable to work with their fellow physicians,” he said. “They’re always so thankful whenever I dispense a MAID kit to them, they’ll sometimes stop by the pharmacy after hours just to thank me, just small things like that make me feel so appreciated.”

When Bahniwal first accepted the position, he admitted that the chance to take over as pharmacy manager of a store immediately after graduating was a bit intimidating. 

A few things reassured him. The previous pharmacist he was taking over from had also started her career as a pharmacy manager as her first posting. It was also a smaller pharmacy, where he would work as its sole pharmacist alongside an assistant, with comparatively lower work volume compared to a community pharmacy in a large city centre. 

After the first three years on the job, the most rewarding thing about community pharmacy continues to be the relationships he builds with his patients and teammates in health care — it’s the same feeling Bahniwal first felt when stepping into a pharmacy job as a pharmacy assistant during his university days. 

“It has not changed. Now, I have a broader team of all these other health care professionals, nurses, doctors, unit clerks and others, but the rewarding feeling I have working here is still the same. I love talking to patients and I love putting a smile on their faces.”


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