A look into the life of a pharmacist contractor
By Morgan Hannah, Life & Style Editor
We meet new people every single day: some of whom we grow personal relationships with, some we grow professional relationships with, and some we never see again. I had the opportunity to meet the lovely Tanya Elizabeth, a pharmacist contractor in Calgary, Alberta, with a unique lifestyle. She and I had a chat about her profession, family struggles, travels, and where she is today:
Where do you work?/What do you do?
I am not situated at any one particular pharmacy as I work for myself as a pharmacist contractor. Essentially, I cover shifts for employers needing vacation and sick coverage for their staff in community pharmacies, hospitals and long-term care facilities throughout Calgary and surrounding rural settings. I’ve been a pharmacist for 17 years and I’ve been making efforts to stay current with my skills and maintain work experience in all sectors of pharmacy so that I’m always employable.
Do you enjoy what you do?/If not a pharmacist, what else would you do for a profession?
Truthfully, I went into pharmacy mostly out of parental expectations and not because I was passionate about it. My mother expected me to go into a “respectable profession” (by her standards, of course), meaning something related to medicine. I wanted to pursue something more creative like interior design or architecture… I did, however, enjoy studying the sciences, and considered some sort of teaching position. I am thankful too, as choosing to go into health care has been pretty recession-proof and finding work has never been an issue for me. Do I enjoy it? To be honest, I’ve made the most of it but it isn’t and never was where my heart was. I love helping people, but I’ve come to realize that I will never be happy in a 9-5 position where I’m cooped-up inside. So, the next best thing…I’ve created an opportunity where I can be my own boss and choose the shifts and locations I want to work at, so that I’m able to travel when I want to. I live at a level of income to be able to do this.
Can you provide me with a brief day-to-day in the life of a pharmacist contractor?
Well, the scope of the profession has changed dramatically over the last few years, so the range of my responsibilities has expanded a lot to include more cognitive services and beyond traditional dispensing duties. To offset the pressure on primary-care physicians, a pharmacist is now able to do vaccinations (any injection, really), prescribe medications (with the exception of narcotics and controlled drugs) through sitting down with patients and going thorough medication history assessments (called care plans). In the long-term care and hospital settings, I will also participate in multidisciplinary team meetings with allied health care professionals and work to optimize medication regimens mostly in three primary areas: pain control, mood, and bowel care. Every workday is a different adventure for me.
Who is/was your greatest influencer in life?
I had to think about this one…I’d say my greatest teacher was my dog, Yoshi, who taught me (through example) to live in the moment and to be happy today. She was a Mexican street dog who had a tough go at life, but overcame her fears by putting all her trust and love into a complete stranger.
What is your favourite quote/motto?
What resonates with me now is: I’d rather live a life of “oh wells” than a life of “what ifs”.
You said you travel. Any favourite trips?
Probably would say island-hopping throughout the islands of Micronesia. I love diving, and on the island of Truk, I was able to do some wreck diving. Micronesia is rich in WWII history and was occupied by the Japanese during that time. Consequently, there are over 100 WWII warships that were sunk in the Truk Lagoon, so exploring the ocean floors there was a surreal experience for me.
What kind of advice would you give someone who is interested in living a life like yours?
Well, don’t follow in anyone’s exact footsteps. Be inspired by others but follow your own heart. Don’t live vicariously (I don’t own a TV—I want to live my own life rather than sit around and watch someone else’s). If you want to do it, opportunities won’t wait for you, so just go and try it out. Live at the level of your income.