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Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Mentoring the future of pharmacy: Barbara Prime and Agatha Dwilewicz

The Women in Pharmacy Leadership (WIPL) Alumni Mentorship Program paired recent alumni who identify as female with working or retired professionals in their field of interest to help them move towards their leadership goals. In this series, Waterloo Pharmacy spotlights their experiences.

Barbara Prime (BScPharm) and alum Agatha Dwilewicz (BSc, BScPhm'12, PharmD'16, RPh) were one of nine mentor and mentee pairs who participated in the 2022 alumni mentorship program. Barbara’s unique experience as a clinical editor made her the perfect mentor match for Agatha.

When I heard about the Waterloo School of Pharmacy WIPL program, I was excited about the opportunity to meet aspiring women leaders and accomplished mentors from a variety of pharmacy practice settings.

Alum Agatha Dwilewicz, BSc, BScPhm'12, PharmD'16, RPh 

“Through my studies and early career in community pharmacy, I became interested in medication safety, drug review process, health policy, health systems, knowledge translation, and medical writing. I completed a course on public health writing through the University of Toronto and currently serve as a reviewer for pharmacy journals. Through the mentorship program, I hoped to expand my knowledge of pharmacist roles in these areas.”

Barbara practised in both community and hospital pharmacy before embarking on a twenty-two-year career in medical publishing at the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA). Following that she worked with Canada Health Infoway and Health Canada on a multi-year project to build a standardized database of drug products that was an important step in facilitating e-prescribing in Canada.

To be honest I wasn’t sure if I was a suitable fit for this program. I questioned, as women tend to do, my own value as a match for one of the mentees.

Barbara Prime, BScPharm

The pair have been meeting on a regular basis and are reading and discussing leadership books together as a framework  for their meetings. The first is Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and both found it highly relatable, touching on relevant aspects of the gender gap in leadership.

“I have found our conversations enriching and powerful. They have evolved very organically and positively. As a result, we formed a synergistic relationship that’s been a delightful surprise and a great addition to my life,” said Prime.

The pair were fortunate to both be located in Ottawa and were able to meet in person on several occasions but the ability to meet virtually was also an asset.

Q&A with Barbara Prime and Agatha Dwilewicz

Barbara Prime

Barbara Prime

UW: What was your favourite part of the program?

BP: In exploring my professional experiences, it’s been a wonderful reminder that I did do a lot of different things and that they are of potential interest and value to others. Reliving the journey and remembering various highlights in my career has been validating and positive. But the best part of the program has been recognizing and nurturing the infinite potential in Agatha and seeing that the profession is in such capable hands. 

UW: What was your biggest accomplishment/take away from the program?

BP: My goal was for Agatha to gain as much as possible from the mentorship program. The bonus part, and a complete surprise to me, was that I have benefited from the program at least as much as she has.

AD: I gained more insight into women in leadership positions and reflected on my own experiences. Barbara also introduced me to her network of former colleagues who shared their professional stories and experiences.

 Agatha Dwilewicz

Agatha Dwilewicz

UW: What would you like your mentor/mentee to know?

BP: I hope that the awareness from examining these issues and exploring them together in such a safe space will stay with Agatha for when an opportunity comes knocking. Whether she accepts the opportunity or not, I hope she will do so for all the right reasons and that gender will never be a factor in holding her back.

AD: Barbara brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise in medical publishing and health systems to our discussions. The depth and breadth of experiences she has shared has been invaluable. Barbara has been a wonderful, welcoming, supportive and encouraging mentor. I hope many more alumni will have the opportunity to benefit from her professional expertise and wisdom through the program in years to come.

UW: What advice would you give future mentors/mentees?

AD: My advice for future participants would be to take initiative, ask questions and be open to learning from one another. Participation in WIPL program provides a unique opportunity for professional and personal growth.

If you’re interested in applying to be a mentor or mentee for the WIPL alumni mentorship program please visit our website.