Photo of Ali Ahmadian standing in a Walmart Pharmacy

Ali Ahmadian has helped expand diabetes education and services at Walmart stores across Ontario and Atlantic Canada

Since graduating, Ali Ahmadian (0T9) has successfully taken on progressively senior roles at Walmart Canada. At the same time, he has maintained his pharmacy license and continues to practice. From giving flu shots to providing medication counselling, Ahmadian says that he still enjoys providing care to patients, even as his day-to-day work is focused more on pharmacy operations at a regional level.

“Practising in the community gives me grassroots, frontline connections to our patients and provides me with a good understanding of what our pharmacy teams see on a daily basis,” says Ahmadian. “That helps me in my role at our head office and provides credibility with our teams and insights into the opportunities our stores face to drive solutions for our associates, customers, and patients.”

Ahmadian earned an Honours Bachelor of Science in physiology at U of T, followed by a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at U of T’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. During his rotations, he had the opportunity to experience different types of pharmacy practice, but found himself most interested in community pharmacy, drawn not only to patient care but also to the operations and business side of retail practice.

“I always had a passion for engaging with patients but also the operational and business aspects,” he says. “When I graduated, I felt that community pharmacy would be the best fit for me, where my interests were and where I saw myself going.”

After graduating in 2009, Ahmadian was offered a role as a pharmacy intern at a Walmart pharmacy in Scarborough. This was the start of his career with the organization.

“In my experience, being genuine and authentic with a strong work ethic are paramount to success and branding yourself for growth.”

Ahmadian was then hired as a staff pharmacist, and soon was promoted to pharmacy manager, both at the same Scarborough store. After a few years, he had the opportunity to take on a district manager role, where he oversaw the operations of several stores in the GTA. After several years as district manager for different markets across southern and central Ontario, Ahmadian accepted a role as director of operations for Walmart’s pharmacy and vision centres for Ontario and the Atlantic provinces, a role he has held since 2019. In this role, he provides leadership and oversight related to patient care, compliance and regulatory requirements and business goals for 187 stores.

“Every day in operations is different and it’s always a rewarding challenge that which gives you the opportunity to interact and collaborate with a lot of different and talented people in our stores and head office and make an impact with our associates, customers and patients,” says Ahmadian. “In my experience, being genuine and authentic with a strong work ethic are paramount to success and branding yourself for growth.”

Pharmacists able to enhance diabetes care for patients

As part of Ahmadian’s progressive roles, he has helped to expand the diabetes prevention, education, and services that are offered at Walmart pharmacies. Most locations have at least one certified diabetes educator (CDE), a health professional with specialized training in diabetes care and management, to provide additional support for patients with diabetes and their caregivers. Diabetes Canada estimates that nearly 6 million Canadians are living with diabetes, and Ahmadian says that Walmart pharmacies are well-positioned to support many people with diabetes.

“We practice care one patient at a time. And our pharmacists who are CDEs provide an important service to the community and provide an added level of expertise, knowledge, and care. Moreover, through our Wellness Days at Walmart, quarterly events that are held in our stores to connect with customers and patients, we are able to provide important blood sugar and blood pressure screenings as well as helpful information on adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” says Ahmadian. “Year after year, pharmacists are described as the most accessible health care professional, and with that access, we bring the ability to enhance care for patients with diabetes and their caregivers.”

There’s so much more that I can see coming on the horizon, and I’m optimistic and inspired for the continued impact pharmacists will make.”

Ahmadian has many fond memories of his time at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, particularly of the social aspect and the opportunities to build camaraderie with fellow students and ease some of the demands of the program. And he says that his education at the Faculty helped prepare him not only for where his career has taken him so far, but also for where the profession is headed.

“It’s incredible to see where the profession is going and having our future pharmacists use all of the training they receive at U of T. It’s so encouraging to see pharmacists practising to their full scope for the benefit of our patients and communities and to help support the health care system,” he says. “There’s so much more that I can see coming on the horizon, and I’m optimistic and inspired for the continued impact pharmacists will make.”

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