Kaydian Hedgin says volunteering, even while juggling a busy schedule, is important to for personal and professional development and acquiring a broader perspective
Kaydian Hedgin has had a long interest in volunteering and helping others. And this continued during her time in the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy PharmD for Pharmacists program, where – despite working fulltime and completing a demanding course load – she volunteered as a peer mentor and a student representative for admissions interviews.
“My parents always talked about the importance of volunteering, giving your time, and trying to make a difference in someone’s life if you can,” says Hedgin. “It’s a humbling and meaningful experience.”
Hedgin grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, earning a Bachelor of Pharmacy with first class honours from the University of Technology in 2006. After working in community pharmacy, warehouse and distribution pharmacy sector and management for several years, she wanted to advance her clinical skills, particularly to specialize in oncology. She decided to further her studies overseas based on research she had done and immigrated to Canada in 2014. After completing a studentship and internship in community pharmacies, she landed a pharmacist role at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Grand Bend, Ontario.
Hedgin was still interested in advancing her clinical and patient care skills and applied to U of T’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy PharmD for Pharmacists program in 2017 because of its world class reputation, strong experiential education and, importantly, an online format that would allow her to continue working.
“Because of the expanded scope of practice for pharmacists, I wanted to be ready to give that enhanced patient care,” she says. “I knew that, based on the record that U of T has, I would be able to deliver that at the end of the program.”
Over the four years of her degree, she valued the strong research and evidence-based environment at the Faculty and the opportunity to learn from clinical leaders.
“The lecturers were really professional and knowledgeable about their field, and they are always accommodating and flexible,” she says. “They treat you as a fellow colleague, and they are open to your perspective.”
This became especially clear during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hedgin says she appreciated how the Faculty’s leadership and faculty members were empathetic and accommodating with students as they navigated work, school, and their mental health during an extremely challenging time.
Peer mentorship helps early-year students navigate challenges of program
Just prior to the pandemic, Hedgin took on a student leadership role, volunteering as a peer mentor in 2020 and 2021. During that time, she was paired with three first-year PharmD for Pharmacists students, meeting them online regularly to provide advice and support to achieve their short and long-term goals.
“In my early years in the program, I wished I had somebody to help me navigate certain aspects of the program that I had to learn to on my own,” she says. “By mentoring, I was able to help make another student’s experience less stressful and to give them insight, support and guidance. I really look at them as my colleagues.”
She also served as a student representative for the admissions multiple mini-interviews (MMI), interviewing applicants and providing feedback with the other faculty members. Having participated in the MMI process herself when she applied to the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, she says this experience was a valuable opportunity to experience the interview process from a new angle, learn what seasoned interviewers look for and how they provide feedback.
With her PharmD for Pharmacists degree now complete, Hedgin was able to advance her clinical skills and competencies. In December, she will be starting a new clinical role in Ontario at the Listowel Wingham Hospitals Alliance, two small rural hospitals close to Huron and Perth County that provide services including oncology, medical surgery and complex continuing care. She will also be continuing as a peer mentor for the PharmD for Pharmacists program.
Hedgin says that, despite being busy with a demanding profession and coursework, it is still important to participate in the extra activities that add value and provide a different perspective.
“These activities have helped me to become more well rounded as an individual, be able to see things differently, and given me a broader perspective on life,” she says. “Volunteering helps you navigate life and build a stronger value system.”
“This degree and the volunteer opportunities I’ve had have been rewarding, exciting, yet challenging experiences, and at the end of the day, it was worth it.”
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