Frank and Doris Kalamut pictured infront of Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy photo backdrop

Convocation speaker and U of T Pharmacy alumna Doris Kalamut (right) with her husband Frank Kalamut.

Doris Kalamut emphasizes importance of empathy, compassion and humility as graduates embark on their new professions

Throughout Doris Kalamut’s long career in community pharmacy and professional education, she has brought empathy and compassion to her roles, whether for her patients or students.

As the convocation speaker for the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and Faculty of Dentistry on Friday, June 7, Doris commended the new graduates on their successes in the face of challenges and emphasized the importance of embracing their new responsibilities with humility and grace.

“Take the time to listen to your patients and empower them to be active participants in their own healthcare."

“Take the time to listen to your patients and empower them to be active participants in their own healthcare. Be compassionate and kind, and have integrity and empathy,” says Doris. “This is the start of their career, and there's so much more to learn. But they're not doing it alone. They are members of wonderful communities of health care professionals.”

As a student, Doris knew she wanted to work within the medical profession and have a career where she could help patients be active in their own health care, so she decided on a career in pharmacy. In 1978, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from U of T and began practising community pharmacy in Niagara Falls.

“I loved the whole idea of patient care – listening to and helping patients learn about their condition, and explaining how they can feel better with or without medication,” she says. “Pharmacy was a perfect fit for me.”

In 1979, she married Frank Kalamut, a graduate of U of T’s Faculty of Dentistry, who she met when they were both students, and moved to Toronto.

Doris was not away from the Faculty for long. In 1981, she started teaching part-time, while still practising in the community and then began raising a family in 1983. She also took on additional roles in the pharmacy profession, including serving as a peer reviewer for the Ontario College of Pharmacists, a presiding officer for the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada, and a reviewer of professional journal articles.

“I was always honoured to be asked to contribute to the profession; I was absolutely going to do my best,” she says. “I wanted people to be exposed to knowledge and information that would benefit their practice and quality of life, and of course, the quality of life of the patients, so I did whatever I could do to help.”

Ana and Leslie Dan with Doris Kalamut at 2024 PharmD Awards Reception
From left: Anna Dan, Leslie Dan, Doris Kalamut

Doris advises students to embrace leadership and change

In 2004, she took on a full-time role at the Faculty as course coordinator and lecturer. She taught a variety of courses in the undergraduate pharmacy program and the International Pharmacy Graduate program, focusing on the practical skills needed in the pharmacy profession, including communication skills, medication therapy management, and experiential education. Doris became the inaugural director, student experience and academic progress in 2012, holding that role until her retirement from the Faculty in 2016.

“I loved the interaction with the students. I was excited to teach them, help them learn how to learn and guide them in their success,” she says. “It was really important for me to empower them with knowledge, skills and abilities so that they could help their patients.”

Doris has always seen leadership and volunteering as important to the profession. She has held leadership roles going back to her time at university, serving as class president and valedictorian of her graduating class. She is class president for life, leading the organization of class reunions and spearheading fundraising within her class to establish the Class of 7T8 Award at their 35th year class reunion. She also established the Doris C. Kalamut Leadership Award in 2013, which recognizes a student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, academic success and involvement in extracurricular activities. She received the U of T Arbor Award in 2017, the highest honour for volunteers, recognizing sustained and significant contributions to the university.

During Doris' career in pharmacy, she has seen much change in the profession. She advises new graduates to be leaders and embrace the changes that they will encounter in their own careers.

“Change happens for a reason ­– either to learn a lesson or to get to where you are supposed to be."

“New graduates are the future change-makers. There is always going to be change, be open to it,” says Doris. “Change happens for a reason ­– either to learn a lesson or to get to where you are supposed to be. Your experiences and the education you have received at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy has made you well-equipped to handle any opportunity you will encounter.”

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