Pharmacy Leadership Award
Pharmacy Manager, Cove Pharmacy
Quadra Island, B.C.
Born and raised in Campbell River, Pharmacy Leadership Award recipient Clay Palmer found home was truly where the heart is, both as a place to start a family and also a place to work. The Cove Pharmacy pharmacist was recently promoted to pharmacy manager at the pharmacy after first starting as an assistant 13 years ago.
At that time, in 2009, Palmer had just graduated high school and had recently enrolled in pharmacy school at the University of B.C.
“I decided on pharmacy pretty early. It was probably Grade 11 when I was going through and looking at university courses and what to take, pre-pharmacy had all the courses that pretty much was interesting to me. So I followed that and decided pretty young to put all my eggs in one basket,” Palmer said.
A family friend soon introduced Palmer to Colleen Hogg, the owner of Cove Pharmacy on Quadra Island, just a 10-minute ferry ride from his hometown of Campbell River, as potentially someone he could learn about being a pharmacist from. He decided to drop off his resume.
“She called me the next day,” he recalled. “Since 2009 I started as a student, and came back every summer to and have been here ever since… It was the very first place I worked at. I really wanted to make sure it was a career I was interested in.”
In 2014, Palmer graduated pharmacy school. By then, he had served in several community pharmacies in Campbell River, worked at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox, and also at a community pharmacy in Prince George, before returning to take a position as pharmacist at Cove Pharmacy.
Many of pharmacist Clay Palmer's patients are members of the local Cape Mudge Band, from the Klahoose Band on nearby Cortes Island, a mix of non-First Nations local residents and also part-time residents and tourists visiting the community.
“Quadra Island, it's just a special place, you’re not going to find this anywhere else,” Palmer said. “I love where I grew up. My wife and I were pretty adamant on coming back all through school. It has anything and everything we want, close access to lakes, water sports, low cost of living, real close, tight-knit communities.”
The most rewarding aspect of being a pharmacist, he said, are the patients. Cove Pharmacy is Quadra Island’s only pharmacy and its patients are varied. Many patients are members of the local Cape Mudge Band, from the Klahoose Band on nearby Cortes Island, a mix of non-First Nations local residents and also part-time residents and tourists visiting the community. Some even travel over from the larger city of Campbell River because they prefer Cove Pharmacy.
“People have prescribers and doctors in Campbell River, but they come here and they won’t be convinced to go to another pharmacy,” Palmer said. “It's a really good feeling. Being the only store on the island and people don't resent that they have to come to you. That's never the case. Everyone comes looking forward to it.
“They see that we're really trying to help. We're not just here to put pills into a bottle.”
In November 2022, Palmer was promoted pharmacy manager as the owner prepares to step back from the day to day management. For Palmer, however, his leadership style will be no different to how he has approached the past 13 years of his work.
“A leader is just someone who gives an example that should be followed and encourages people to do the same,” Palmer said. “It’s going the extra mile. If it's there's some difficulty that arises and it's a challenge that can easily be pushed off or swept under the rug or anything like that, Colleen has always worked to finish it or make the problem go away, or at least have some kind of resolution.
“That ability to just work harder to get the job done, has probably been the biggest thing. And the kindness to everyone, no matter who they are, walking through the door.”