As our population grows and ages, pharmacists play an increasingly important role in providing patient care. Today’s pharmacists not only dispense medication, they care for patients directly, providing education and advice. And sometimes — as in the case of Pharmacy student Lisa Ros-Choi — they do much more.

As part of her clinical training, Lisa was reviewing medications with an elderly patient at a retirement home. She noticed that he seemed confused about what he was taking. And as they talked about his night-time breathing problems, he tearfully mentioned that his wife — isolated in the home’s memory ward — had no recollection of him. 

Lisa Ros-Choi“Together, we created an action plan that involved helping him better manage his sleep, contacting his doctor for further treatment and encouraging staff at the home to provide him with regular updates about his wife,” Lisa says.

For Lisa, such care is part of her training. But for this man, her actions meant the world.

“On my last day at the home, he told me I was one of the most compassionate healthcare providers he had met,” she says. “Instances like these, where I’m able to assist those who need it most, are the reason I love this profession.”

The pandemic has highlighted pharmacists’ vital contribution to health care, says David Edwards, a professor and former Hallman Director at Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy. He notes that the School’s COVID immunization clinic — where students delivered care alongside pharmacists, physicians and nurses — administered more than 75,000 vaccinations. And all across the province, our Pharmacy students are working to support the vaccination campaign.

“We have fantastic students who are making a difference. The more support they have, the better, in terms of moving health care forward,” David says.

Instances like these, where I'm able to assist those who need it most, are the reason I love this profession.

LISA ROS-CHOI, Pharmacy student

That need for support prompted David and some colleagues to create the Lisa McLean Professional Practice Award. McLean was a beloved instructor at the School who passed away in 2013. She is still remembered for her warmth and caring, qualities she instilled in the students she taught.

“Because Lisa McLean taught in the professional practice lab and touched the lives of every student at the School,” David says, “we wanted to create an award for students who excel in that part of the curriculum.” Not surprisingly, Lisa Ros-Choi is the award’s most recent recipient.

Thanks to this funding, Lisa says, “I’ve travelled to rural areas, providing aid to vulnerable people with less access to health care. Wherever I go in my career, one thing will always be consistent: my desire to provide patient-centered care.”