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2012 M.J. Huston Pharmacist of Distinction - Hoan Linh Banh

Hoan Linh BanhHoan Linh Banh
Pharmacist/Associate Professor; U of A Hospital/Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Edmonton, AB

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Dr. Hoan Linh Banh doesn’t wait for things to happen – she goes for it! “We live in a province with so much resource and opportunity,” says Dr. Banh. “It’s important to recognize that it’s here and available for us to take advantage of.”

And take advantage of it she has!

Doctor of Pharmacy: check.
Additional prescribing authorization: check.
Authorization to administer drugs by injection: check.  

As the profession of pharmacy moves forward, Dr. Banh is moving with it - embracing her full scope of practice.
Since a grade school student in Etobicoke, ON, Dr. Banh has had a love for pharmacy and has turned that passion into a rewarding career. She graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science and earned her PharmD from the University of Oklahoma. 

She started her career at Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Leaving the bright city lights behind in 2000, she relocated to Nova Scotia to accept a cross appointment between Capital Health, as a clinical coordinator for the ICU, and Dalhousie University, teaching second-, third-, and fourth-year pharmacy students.
Teaching was new to Dr. Banh, and she is the first to admit that the learning curve was steep. Through the help of mentors and friends along the way, she flourished into a professional role model who leads by example. “I would bring my students with me to my clinical practice at the ICU. This was a nice balance to actually show what is needed for patient care and professional collaboration,” explains Dr. Banh.
And her students agree. Bradley Mitchelmore, a previous student (class 2006) from Dalhousie University, recalls how Dr. Banh genuinely wants her students to succeed as a pharmacist, and will do anything she can to ensure they achieve that success. “I am forever grateful for the opportunities, support, and experiences Dr. Banh has provided for me throughout my education, and would not be the practitioner I am today without her.”
Since 2009, Dr. Banh has been teaching at the U of A Faculty of Pharmacy and also practising as a clinical pharmacist at the Severe Asthma Clinic at the U of A Hospital. She keeps a balanced perspective by combining practice and academics, and often reminds her students that it is not just their grades, but the differences they make in the lives of their patients that are the indicators for success.
Dr. Banh definitely makes a positive difference with her patients. A patient at the Asthma Clinic can attest to this. “As I talk, she listens, and I mean, she really listens. I think Dr. Banh is probing for that small something that maybe somebody hasn’t taken into consideration before.”
In 2010, Dr. Banh organized a course to help third-year pharmacy students receive their certificate to administer drugs by injection. Pharmacy students who hold this certificate are able to administer a drug by injection under the supervision of a pharmacist who holds their authorization from the Alberta College of Pharmacy.

The underlying goal behind this certification was to help build student experience and confidence in providing vaccinations during their fourth-year pharmacy rotations. But always wanting to help people in the community and further expand her students’ skills, Dr. Banh thought: “why wait to rotations…let’s get these skills out there now.”
With the support of the University Health Centre, Dr. Banh played an instrumental role in expanding the University’s flu vaccination program to include pharmacy students in their fourth year. Along with licensed pharmacists who were authorized to administer injections, pharmacy students volunteered to administer flu shots to staff and students on campus.
In October 2010, 50 pharmacy students participated and provided over 330 injections during the two-day clinic. In 2011, pharmacy students’ involvement was further expanded to work alongside student nurses in an interdisciplinary setting. Together, the two groups administered over 5000 injections. Dr. Banh is currently in the process of using a survey to measure how the flu clinic participation has impacted pharmacy student confidence and skills.
When asked about what she finds most rewarding in her work, Dr. Banh lights up and refers to her students. “When my students email me their success stories—they remember something that I taught them and it made a difference—that makes me feel a deep sense of accomplishment.”