Emerging Leader in Pharmacy Award recipient Molly Yang incorporates passion for advocacy for patients and profession into career
Although Molly Yang’s career in pharmacy is still relatively new, she has already taken on leadership roles in a broad range of initiatives, worked to support and empower pharmacists while improving care for diverse patients, and helped to educate the next generation of pharmacists. Yang recently received the 2023 Emerging Leader in Pharmacy Award from the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, recognizing her leadership as a young professional in pharmacy.
“When I was a student, I could not have foreseen this role for myself. I didn’t know that there were pharmacy careers where I could explore advocacy, both for the pharmacy profession and for patients,” says Yang, who is currently Director of Pharmacy Innovation and Professional Affairs at Wholehealth Pharmacy Partners, a banner of independent pharmacies. “I’m very fortunate that my eyes were opened to all the possibilities of a pharmacy career and to have found a role like this where I can explore so many different types of opportunities.”
Yang studied toxicology and health and disease at the University of Toronto before completing her Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy in 2020. She initially considered a career in community pharmacy, but the advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) rotations allowed her to explore non-direct patient care roles and expanded her idea of what a career in pharmacy could include.
In particular, her APPE rotation at Wholehealth Pharmacy Partners gave her valuable experience in marketing and pharmacy campaigns, which allowed her to combine and further explore her interests in pharmacy, graphic design, and the arts. After graduating, she continued working at Wholehealth, first as an intern, then in a marketing role before stepping into pharmacy programs. In her current role, she leads innovative education and marketing campaigns for Wholehealth’s more than 200 pharmacies across the country and provides clinical support for their pharmacists.
“As the role of pharmacists is constantly evolving and pharmacies are becoming the premier locations and vaccination hubs in our community, we need to be ready to step into the role of providing vaccines and community support.”
In recent years, she has become particularly passionate about pharmacists’ role in providing immunizations in the community. She has participated in practice-based pharmacy research, including VaxCheck, a feasibility study examining vaccination reviews in pharmacy. As a co-primary investigator, she oversaw the development of the toolkit, meant to empower pharmacists to identify vaccination gaps and make patient-specific recommendations. She has also participated in research on the CARD (Comfort, Ask, Relax, Distract) system and its implementation in pharmacies.
“As the role of pharmacists is constantly evolving and pharmacies are becoming the premier locations and vaccination hubs in our community, we need to be ready to step into the role of providing vaccines and community support,” says Yang. “Pharmacists are trained on so many aspects of immunizations, but sometimes it’s difficult to bridge the gap between knowledge and implementation. These programs are meant to support pharmacists as they do that.”
PharmD degree opens up a world of opportunities
Yang is also interested in harm reduction for people who take opioids and has led programs to improve naloxone dispensing in pharmacies. She has also led initiatives in equity, diversity, and inclusion, advocating for women in pharmacy leadership positions and supporting and empowering pharmacists to make their pharmacies safer and more inclusive places for the 2SLGTBQIA+ community.
A young professional herself, Yang is also helping to educate the next generation of pharmacists, providing training and mentorship as a preceptor to over 30 pharmacy students from various pharmacy schools across Canada.
“Working with students is one of my favourite things to do,” says Yang. “There is a strong focus on supporting both professional and personal growth for our students, and it’s a two-way street where I also learn a lot from them.”
Yang says that the pharmacy profession is much broader than the roles that she originally envisioned while in school and encourages students and young pharmacy professionals to incorporate their interests and passions into their career.
“We’re living in a really exciting time, and a PharmD degree opens up a world of opportunities to you.”
“We’re living in a really exciting time, and a PharmD degree opens up a world of opportunities to you,” says Yang. “There is so much potential with this degree, so try to look for a position where you are passionate about what you do and are learning every day.”
She says being recognized with the Emerging Leader in Pharmacy Award is a particular honour given the many accomplished alumni of the PharmD program.
“One of the most rewarding parts of my role has been supporting a few of my 2T0 classmates and other alumni with opening their own dream pharmacies. With all of the recent pharmacy scope expansions, being an entrepreneur in patient care with pharmacy ownership can be an incredible career path,” says Yang.
“I am beyond honoured to be recognized among my peers. There are so many amazing pharmacists and alumni who are doing great things in patient care, academics, research, policy, and industry. And I’m proud to be considered among that cohort.”
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