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2010 Wyeth Consumer Healthcare Bowl of Hygeia: Igor Shaskin

Igor ShaskinIgor Shaskin
Manager, Stafford Pharmacy & Home Healthcare
Lethbridge, AB

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"I do it [volunteer] because I’m part of a community. Pharmacy has always been part of the community. It’s not enough just to be the drug therapy experts. Pharmacists have an important leadership role to play.”

Igor Shaskin is a leader who inspires others by example. For the 25 years he has owned Stafford Pharmacy & Home Healthcare, he has built a sterling reputation not only as a pharmacist but as a community leader. “Being able to do meaningful work is what gives me the greatest satisfaction. I want to make an impact.” Well, Igor needn’t worry. Not only has he positively impacted the health of patients, he has improved the lives of countless others through his volunteer work.

As a Director of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce and the Lethbridge Better Business Bureau, he protected the interests of both fellow business owners and citizens. As a member of the Lethbridge Y’s Men’s Service Club and the Galbraith School Council, he has spoken on behalf of issues that affect both young and old. He has passed on his business knowledge as a Junior Achievement Business Mentor. As a member of the University of Lethbridge’s Fundraising Committee, he helped make the new LINC Centre, a state-of- the-art library and reference centre, a reality.

He works in the broader arena of healthcare too. He is just completing his fourth year on the hospital foundation. “I wanted to be certain that patients receive the best of care. This can only happen if we have what hospital staff and healthcare professionals need in the hospital to provide that care. I want a facility that is leading edge – that can offer innovative care. When you have that, care improves and you can attract the best people, and that too creates better care.”

Igor also takes pharmacy education well beyond the doors of his pharmacy. He has spread his enthusiasm for the profession by being a guest speaker at many school presentations. He also presents talks to community groups, seniors associations, and other health professionals. His in-service presentation for Dacapo, a part of Lethbridge Family Services, is now mandatory for all new staff.

“It’s a given that you have to be an educator. That’s a criterion of being a good pharmacist. There is a public education program that is titled, ‘Knowledge: Your Best Medicine.’ I really believe that. I always try to figure out what will make it interesting for the audience. For the elementary school presentations, I would often take in a giant mortar and pestle. For younger groups, I take in Remington’s and Martindale’s [pharmacy reference texts]; they weigh almost as much as the kids! They can’t believe all the information that pharmacists have to know. For seniors, I try to help them understand that medicine is not a commodity to simply consume; it’s a tool – one that can do good things or do harm. It’s important then to learn how best to use such a valuable tool.”

For all of this, Igor doesn’t expect any payment but feels rewarded in other ways. “Don’t misunderstand – I am a huge proponent for the payment of pharmacist services within the professional practice. Yet you learn so much just talking to people when taking the opportunity to meet them this way – outside of the pharmacy. As long as the audience is attentive and I can see the ‘light go on’ I’ll keep doing it. The profession gives you everything: your skills, your living. For the profession to be sustainable, sometimes you have to give back. That giving starts at home.”

He is also of the opinion that pharmacists have a very important leadership role to play within their community. “People within the community just naturally look to you as that leader. We shouldn’t disappoint and, more importantly, we should grab on to the opportunity.”

What wisdom can Igor pass along from his volunteer experience? “Try to find a way to contribute to your community in a meaningful, significant way. You should add to Maslow’s hierarchy. Community participation is another way to do that meaningful work and leave your legacy within that community.”