Pharmacy Leadership Award 2019: Mona Kwong

Updated on July 16, 2021 (Originally posted on May 11, 2019) News, The Tablet

Title Pharmacy owner and manager, Pharmacist, Pharmacy Advisor
Workplace Howe Street Pharmasave, Infinity Medical Specialists Clinic, BC Centre for Substance Use
Location Vancouver


Mona Kwong loves to learn.

From the time she was a toddler, living in a Cantonese-speaking home and learning English through watching Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Kwong has drawn on an aptitude and passion for expanding her knowledge and skillsets.

With a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of British Columbia and a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Florida, Kwong has peppered her pharmacy career with educational interludes.

Kwong is determined to share her wealth of knowledge with a wide breadth of interdisciplinary colleagues, pharmacy staff, students and, of course, patients, in an effort to drive pharmacy to reach its full capacity in caring for patients as part of the extended health-care team.

“I love to learn from others,” she says. “I love stories and how we can come together as a group to share and learn from each other.”

As an experienced instructor, mentor and preceptor, Kwong has shaped the minds and careers of many pharmacy students, both as a former faculty member with the UBC’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and current clinical instructor and preceptor with the university’s new PharmD program, as well as other Canadian and international universities’ programs. She consistently mentors students and colleagues within her downtown Vancouver pharmacy, Howe Street Pharmasave, providing education of various disease states such as HIV, opioid use disorder and mental health, while addressing essential patient care elements such as stigma and cultural humility.

She believes in empowering her practicum students with unique opportunities. Every summer, she participates in UBC’s Science 101, an adult education and science outreach program for those who have had difficulty accessing higher education. In addition to raising pharmacy’s profile, students have the opportunity to gain further insight into teaching and community engagement.

Kwong works closely with the BC Pharmacy Association as a trainer for the new Opioid Agonist Treatment Compliance and Management Program, providing pharmacists across B.C. with thoughtful and practical skills in caring for patients with opioid use disorder.

In fact, Kwong has been working directly with the BC Centre for Substance Use since 2016 as a pharmacy advisor, providing expert advice on clinical practice guidelines, research studies, training programs and educational outreach activities. In her role, she has championed not only pharmacy’s role in providing critical services in light of B.C.’s overdose crisis but also B.C.’s community pharmacists. She offers advice and instruction regarding policy changes, new medications and potential drug shortages.

In addition to her roles as instructor, trainer and advisor, Kwong continues to practice pharmacy at her own downtown pharmacy as well as Infinity Medical Specialists Clinic, Vancouver’s first collaborative medical specialists clinic. Working collaboratively with the interdisciplinary care team, Kwong provides education and support in the areas of diabetes and hypertension, offering weight management consultation, insulin training and hypertension management, while also optimizing drug coverage and medication management strategies.

As owner and manager at her pharmacy, Kwong’s leadership style focuses on relationship building.

“It’s so important to have a culture of openness and trust, so your team feels comfortable sharing ideas and coming to you with challenges. I encourage my team to always be looking for ways we can improve care,” says Kwong. “This is also how we continue to grow and learn.”

Since 2015, Kwong has served on the Board of the College of Pharmacists of BC. As former Board Chair and current District 1 board member, she has drawn on her multifaceted pharmacy experience to help improve pharmacy care at a provincial scale. “It’s a responsibility I take really seriously — reviewing patient safety risks, and helping make decisions on regulation that shapes pharmacy practice in B.C.”

Kwong pursues her many different roles with one ultimate goal in my mind —improving the lives of patients through pharmacy care.

“We are the eyes and ears of the patient; we are the detectives,” she says. “We can help patients navigate the pathway to better health. We’re here and we’re able to help.”

Mona Kwong

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.