Alyssa Hellman got her start in the healthcare field as a high school student, volunteering in a hospital in her home town of Medicine Hat.
“I really fell in love with the whole world of health care and the idea of being able to help someone who is going through a tough time in their life,” she said.
After high school, Alyssa started her university education studying science and found she was drawn to the evidence-based nature of pharmacy and was interested in the science behind how different medications can help patients.
“I found that pharmacy was a good combination of health care and science,” she said.
She decided to pursue her PharmD through the University of Alberta’s (U of A) Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Alyssa graduated in 2023 with the highest academic standing, earning her the gold medal. In addition to the gold medal, Alyssa receives a one-year paid practice permit once she is admitted to ACP’s clinical pharmacist register.
When she reflected on her university career, Alyssa said the best part about the program was the connections she formed with her classmates, preceptors, and professors.
“There was such a strong sense of community within the program and I formed lifelong friendships,” she said. “I felt really supported and felt that everyone wanted to see me succeed.”
Alyssa encourages current and future students to look for opportunities to learn and grow outside of the classroom. Serving as the Alberta Pharmacy Students’ Association’s vice president of student services offered Alyssa a valuable opportunity to develop skills in advocacy and leadership.
“My biggest piece of advice for current students would be to try to get involved, take on different leadership roles, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone,” she said. “I found getting involved in things outside of the classroom can teach you a lot of different skills that you may not necessarily learn in class or by reading a textbook.”
Alyssa looks forward to applying everything she has learned so far and continuing to foster new skills as she steps into a new stage of her career. She starts a hospital pharmacy residency over the summer and is looking forward to this new learning opportunity as a provisional pharmacist.
“There is always lots to learn and I am excited to be part of a profession that really encourages lifelong learning.”
As she continues to grow as a practising pharmacist, Alyssa looks forward to using her skills and expertise to help her patients.
“I want to continue to become a better care provider for my patients,” she said. “It is such a privilege to be trusted by our patients and I’ve found it really rewarding to be there for patients and make a difference in their lives.”