Name: Duke Boampong
Education: Doctor of Pharmacy 2015 (Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy); Honours BSc. With Distinction – Human Biology Specialist (University of Toronto – Scarborough)
Profession: Clinical Pharmacist at Princess Margaret Outpatient Pharmacy
Years of Experience: 5
When you were a child, did you envision becoming what you are now?
This profession was definitely NOT on my radar when I was a child! Growing up in an immigrant household, I have fond memories of the “Doctor or Lawyer” push from my parents but naturally, like most children at my school, I was convinced that I was going to play in the NBA.
Can you please tell us about your journey? When did you first think to yourself, “I made it”?
Towards the end of high school, after realizing my chances of making the NBA were essentially zero, I was not quite sure of the career I wanted to end up in. I always found science to be very interesting, particularly the ways in which the human body function as a whole. So, I decided that in university, I would pursue a degree in Human Biology. I was hoping that through exposure to several different science-based courses (i.e. chemistry, biology, physiology, psychology), I would be able to find a suitable career for me.
After taking a bunch of science-based courses in university, I figured that I wanted to be in the healthcare sector as I loved to help people and was always a pretty good communicator. Medical school was intriguing, but having a work life balance was very important to me so I ultimately decided against it. It just so happened that one of my good friends who I would often play basketball with got into pharmacy school and was telling me a bit about the career. It checked many boxes for me: stable work schedule (good work-life balance), being able to interact with the general public when it came to matters of their health and having an opportunity to learn about drugs and their interactions with the body.
I ultimately decided to apply to the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, a school that, at the time, only accepted 240 students each year. I was fortunate to get accepted and my time there was such a wonderful experience in terms of my development as a person. There was the obvious side of being able to participate in rotations in different pharmacy settings (ex. hospital, community pharmacy), but I also had opportunities to participate in school events such as student council, sports teams and pharmacy clubs.
When I finally walked across that stage during Convocation and received my degree – I definitely felt like I made it!
Did you face any challenges on your journey to get where you are? Do you currently face any challenges?
The biggest challenge for me I think was my entire four years of pharmacy school! I had completed an undergraduate degree prior to going to pharmacy school so I was already somewhat familiar with balancing many courses with non-academic pursuits; however, this was just on another level! Add this to a daily commute of almost 3 hours, I definitely remember days of just feeling exhausted. The key for me was to always make time for non-pharmacy school activities (i.e. sports, clubs, social outings) to maintain balance.
The current challenge is mainly just trying to continue to provide excellent pharmaceutical care to our patients in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of our patients are isolating at home or are trying to avoid trips to the hospital, so the amount of deliveries that we are preparing has increased significantly in addition to our regular pharmacy operation activities.
What skills do you believe a person needs to succeed in your profession?
The pharmacy knowledge is a given; however, I think anyone who has an interest in this field will acquire that during pharmacy school. So although it’s important, I would say that the other major skill that really enables one to succeed in this particular profession is communication. Pharmacists are responsible for communicating important drug information (ex. how to take/use medication, side effects, drug interactions) to patients as well as collaborating with other health care professionals. So, one has to have strong communication skills. Empathy, organization and time management skills are also critical.
What advice would you give to others who aspire to be where you are?
It’s often difficult to know exactly what profession you want to get into. Your high school/university experience is a great point in your life to try new things, meet new friends, network, join clubs/organizations and participate in athletics. Get involved as much as possible so you really get to experience things. The only way to really know if you like something is to try it right?
Can you please share on goal you achieved that you are extremely proud of?
Walking across that stage to accept my Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2015.