Ruby Maw: training for team-based primary care

February 1, 2024 The Tablet

By Ishika Jain
Communications Coordinator
BC Pharmacy Association

This article follows the journey of Ruby Maw in the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada (AFPC) Advanced Primary Care Pharmacist Training Program—a part of the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program, Team Primary Care: Training for Transformation project. She is the only pharmacist from British Columbia among the 15 people enrolled in the program. When she’s not attending the training program, she serves at Hogarth’s Clinic Pharmacy, actively contributing to the well-being of her community and shaping the future of health care in the region.

Ruby Maw initially left her small hometown of Armstrong to pursue her education at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver before making the deliberate choice to return to her roots in the north Okanagan. Inspired by a Grade 5 assignment where she was asked to think about what she wanted to be when she grew up, she was influenced by her mother’s profession as a nurse, her love for science, and a genuine desire to assist others. Early on, she realized her professional trajectory was in her local community as a pharmacist. 

In 2013, Maw commenced her degree in General Sciences at UBC Okanagan, and by 2014, she had transferred to UBC Vancouver’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, graduating in 2018. As a new grad, she initially worked in Armstrong and Enderby before settling into a community pharmacist position in Vernon. 

Ruby Maw

Maw currently works as a pharmacist at Hogarth’s Clinic Pharmacy in Vernon.

What motivated you to pursue community pharmacy?

My interest in health care solidified during a high school “Take Your Kid to Work Day” project when I had the opportunity to shadow my mother, a nurse at Shuswap Lake General Hospital. It was during this experience in Grade 9 that I was able to get a behind-the-scenes look at hospital pharmacy, which gave me a much greater appreciation for the variety of pharmacy career paths available. My fourth-year hospital practicum coincidentally took place at the same hospital nine years later. While I loved working in a hospital, my preference shifted towards community pharmacy due to its accessibility and the multitude of opportunities it presents, especially due to its recent and dynamic growth. I’ve been at Hogarth’s Clinic Pharmacy since 2022, and each day brings new and interesting experiences.

What prompted you to apply to the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada training program? 

Our pharmacy owner, Curtis, was extremely supportive of us applying and I was very grateful to secure my spot among the 15 pharmacists. I wouldn’t be where I am without my colleagues, past and present, who not only provided letters of support or reference for my application, but also influenced me to practice at the top of my scope. It felt like the optimal time, both in my personal career and in the current health-care environment, to expand the presence of pharmacists into a collaborative primary care setting to enhance patient outcomes and health-care access, especially for chronic disease management. As the only pharmacist from B.C. in the program, it’s been great to have mostly asynchronous training and flexibility with different time zones, allowing me to work concurrently while studying. 

"Designed for pharmacists practicing in community pharmacies and clinics, this program provides online and in-person training, with coaching from an experienced primary care pharmacist." — Christine Papoushek, AFPC

What have you learned during this placement? 

During this placement, my focus was on providing patient care through activities such as medication reviews, reconciliation, deprescribing, and chronic disease management. Over the four weeks, each program participant actively engaged in a leadership project aimed at fostering practice changes for the expansion of primary care services. In this project, we are tasked with identifying an initiative that could make a meaningful impact on patient care. As a Certified Respiratory Educator, I have a strong interest in respiratory conditions, and was inspired to focus on the implementation of  individualized action plans for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A statistic that resonated with me, mentioned in a course I have taken, highlighted that only two per cent of patients report receiving an asthma action plan. Recognizing the numerous barriers in practice, particularly the time constraints faced by primary care providers, I believe collaboration is crucial for addressing these barriers and ensuring that patients receive quality, personalized care. 

Simultaneously, I am developing evidence-based teaching materials specifically tailored for respiratory conditions. This teaching initiative is intricately connected with my leadership project, underlining the necessity for personalized action plans in managing conditions like COPD and asthma. The overarching goal is to empower patients, elevate the quality of care, and foster improved collaboration among health-care providers. 

How do you think one would benefit from this course? 

I believe this program will significantly enhance my collaboration skills. The program offers opportunities to work on projects with colleagues and physicians that help foster relationship-building. Following my four-week placement in January, I aim to leverage the additional training to collaborate with various community groups. Through these initiatives, my goal is to instigate lasting, positive change even after the placement concludes. I’m hoping to:

  • Increase awareness of the pharmacist’s role within the health-care team 
  • Promote the value of pharmacists in unconventional healthcare settings 
  • Make a meaningful impact on people’s wellness journeys through personalized interactions 
  • Build relationships that facilitate improved communication and collaboration in the future.

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.