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Women in Pharmacy

Jodi Skinner, BSc PharmIMG_00001146

Pharmacist Manager

Wal-Mart Pharmacy 3101

Pharmacy has often been touted as a “female-friendly” profession.  Is this actually the case?  The CIHI (Canadian Institute of Health Information) states that 69.1% of community staff pharmacists and 75.7% of hospital pharmacists, in 2009, were female.  Wal-Mart Pharmacy employees 1,047 pharmacists across Canada, of which, 620 are female.  These statistics prove, without a doubt, that there are more women pharmacists than men.  However, it does not address whether the profession is “female-friendly.”

Why did I choose pharmacy?  Well, I didn’t give it much thought in the beginning.  While in junior high school, my family travelled to Florida to visit relatives. They were both pharmacists.  We visited their home on a lake and I thought; “Wow!  Pharmacy must be a good career choice.”  From that day on, I set my career goal as pharmacy.  I made sure I had good grades.  I met with resource councillors to make sure I had all the correct courses. I also volunteered at local pharmacies to ensure I had an exceptional resume.  If it hadn’t been for that family vacation, I don’t think I would have known that pharmacy was a career option.  It certainly wasn’t presented to me as a possible career choice during school.

I graduated from Dalhousie University College of Pharmacy in 2000.  The majority of my class was female.  Was there a feeling of inequality among us?  Not in my opinion.  We were encouraged to excel in the profession.  We were taught to set our sights high and take leadership roles.  During the 4 years I attended the College of Pharmacy, many of our guest lecturers were females.  Among these women were leaders in pharmaceutical care in the community, managers in both the community and hospital clinics, drug information pharmacists, doctors of pharmacy and clinical pharmacists at local hospitals.  There are many female mentors in the profession.  Looking back, in my opinion, I was given a unique experience that I undervalued at the time.

So has my gender hindered my career?  Absolutely not!  I love my job (most days).  Over the years, it has changed with me. During my 13 year career, I have worked in different provinces, travelled, taken 3 maternity leaves, managed two community pharmacies and worked in a hospital pharmacy.  My job allows me to help people with their health.  I love to talk to people, answer their questions, help them with their medications and hopefully, positively affect their overall heath.   I enjoy holding community presentations, health clinics, school presentations, medication reviews and most recently, administering immunizations.  Of course, every day is not rosy, but what job is?  The important thing is to focus on those moments where you know you`ve made a difference in someone`s life.

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