Portrait of MScPHm graduate Jessica Stovel

Master of Science in Pharmacy (MScPhm) graduate Jessica Stovel

Program’s first graduates say breadth of opportunities have allowed them to consider new possibilities for their pharmacy careers

The first graduates of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy’s Master of Science in Pharmacy (MScPhm) say that they have gained important skills that have helped them consider new possibilities of where they can take their pharmacy careers.

Both Jessica Stovel and Maria Marchese entered the program two years ago with the goal of advancing their clinical skills, but they also broadened their interest in other aspects of pharmacy, which will help them take on new roles and advance the profession.

“There’s continuously been so many different types of opportunities through this program, and I think it’s important to embrace them,” says Stovel. “All of the opportunities that land on your doorstep can give you important insight into what you like and don’t like and how you want to move forward with your career.”

Program builds confidence to take on leadership roles

Before starting the MScPhm program in 2020, Stovel had worked in hospital pharmacy in various surgical areas as well as cardiac care and pediatric psychiatry. She had always been interested in research and teaching, supervising many pharmacy students and residents at the hospital, but she hadn’t considered teaching at a higher level in more formal settings.

“I didn’t realize how much that the teaching, research and leadership components would excite me until I got into the program,” she says. “These are all things that I never thought I would be doing, but now I’m seeing that there are other options for my career.”

During the MScPhm program, she not only helped to supervise students with their research projects, but was also a teaching assistant for a third-year mental health and addictions course in the PharmD program, presenting a couple of lectures and interacting with students in smaller groups.

“I now have the confidence that I can lead a clinical practice as well as help pharmacists advance their practice more broadly.”

She completed the clinical and research components of the MScPhm program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) under the supervision of Beth Sproule, Clinician Scientist and Associate Professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. Through Sproule’s mentorship, she was able to advance her knowledge of pharmacy practice in mental health, participate in professional committees and working groups at CAMH, and lead research examining how patient access to opioid agonist therapies (for example, methadone) through a CAMH outpatient clinic changed during the pandemic.

“All of these experiences have helped me build and strengthen my skill set so that I am prepared for whatever opportunities I encounter going forward,” says Stovel. “I now have the confidence that I can lead a clinical practice as well as help pharmacists advance their practice more broadly.”

Master of Science in Pharmacy (MScPhm) graduate Maria Marchese

Program structure prepares students to incorporate research into practice

Maria Marchese, previously a pharmacist at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, had experience in different clinical areas and a strong interest in oncology, but had limited exposure to precepting students and participating in committees or research prior to starting the MScPhm program.

The past two years in the program have allowed her to explore these other aspects of the profession. She was a TA in a first-year PharmD course for two years and supervised students on rotation at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. She also sat on committees, including the Graduate Research in Progress conference committee, to help grow her leadership skills.

She also developed interest in the many different types of research. With her supervisor Carlo DeAngelis, Clinician Scientist at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, she led a study that involved interviewing patients enrolled in the Cannabis Consultation Service at the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to gather their perspectives on receiving the service through a pharmacist. With the study now complete, she is working with the team to publish manuscripts and present abstracts at various conferences.

“I definitely feel more confident about my practice. I had opportunities to deliver professional presentations to demonstrate my research and clinical expertise,” she says. “And these opportunities have helped me work toward being a clinical expert in my area of interest.”

Based on these positive experiences, Marchese plans to incorporate research into her future practice, most likely in her clinical specialty of cancer and thrombosis, to help advance pharmacists’ knowledge in this area. She says that the program’s structure, with students working on their clinical and research components at the same time, helps prepare students for this type of career.

“Now that I’ve worked on various projects, I feel more confident to lead or be involved with practice-based research in the future.”

“Weaving research into day-to-day clinical practice can be a challenge, but the program is set up to prepare you to address important clinical questions or patient care challenges that the health care team may face,” she says. “Now that I’ve worked on various projects, I feel more confident to lead or be involved with practice-based research in the future.”

With the program now complete, both Stovel and Marchese want to incorporate their new interests and skills into their practices. And they both recognize the importance of mentorship and support from faculty in achieving their goals for the program.

“The networks that you establish through this program are critical. Having these connections and being able to collaborate with clinical leaders on future projects will help advance the profession,” says Marchese. “I felt very supported by my supervisor, professors and classmates, and it was quite rewarding to practise at a higher level.”

The MScPhm program at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy provides an opportunity for pharmacists to gain advanced clinical therapeutic knowledge and practice experience in a defined area, in addition to research, education and leadership skills.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Pharmacy Program

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