Clinical Geriatric Pharmacist, Rexall Specialty Pharmacy
When Gillian Hansen read an interview with the Alberta Pharmacy Students’ Association (APSA) president, she realized that pharmacy was for her. Throughout high school and university, she worked in a nursing home in St. Albert, and had always been interested in healthcare and helping people. Reading the interview, she concluded that by entering pharmacy she could continue to help people in a very specific and important way.
Gillian’s nursing home experiences stuck in her mind, and soon after graduating from the University of Alberta in 2007, she began to practise in a long term care setting.
“I’ve always loved geriatrics—I always knew that I wanted to work in long term care,” she says. “I love the patients. I think they’re a really interesting demographic, with so much knowledge and experience. I really respect them.”
Just after Gillian graduated, the university revamped the pharmacy curriculum. There was a shift in pharmacist roles and responsibilities, and while Gillian completed her studies just before that shift, she embraced her expanded role.
“I’m doing things now in my practice that I never thought I would be doing, like immunizations and injections, adaptations, and direct clinical work with patients,” she says. “I’d like to take my practice as far as it can go. The next step is to apply for the prescribing roster, hopefully within the next few years. Pharmacist roles are changing a lot, and it’s very exciting to be on the forefront of that change.”
Wanting more expertise in her chosen field, Gillian obtained a Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy (CGP) through the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, and is now a Clinical Geriatric Pharmacist at Rexall Long Term Care. Here, Gillian collaborates with an interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals to provide complete care for patients in long term care facilities.
She has been involved in several initiatives within her workplace, including “clinical coffees” (similar to a monthly journal club), and more recently, an interdisciplinary “fall committee” that is working to change protocols and procedures to prevent falls in high-risk patients.
Outside of the workplace, Gillian is involved with several organizations where she has opportunities to learn and to explore other areas of pharmacy and healthcare practice. She volunteers with the PEBC OSCE qualifying exam marking the exams (and now sees exam day from a new perspective). Motivated by previous experience serving on the Academic Appeals Committee and University Appeal Board while completing her studies, Gillian applied to ACP’s Hearing Tribunal pool. She was accepted, and has since completed training and served in a hearing.
“The ACP Hearing Tribunal gives me an opportunity to learn about another side of pharmacy practice,” she says. “It’s very interesting. I learn a lot about our standards, and the inner workings of pharmacy rules and regulations.”
When asked where she sees her career heading, Gillian is certain that she’d like to continue working in long term care.
“I learn something new every day,” she says. “I like gaining experience-based knowledge. Working with patients and with an interdisciplinary team gives me a huge sense of satisfaction.”