“Pharmacists are those healthcare workers who perform miracles every day,” says the wise and experienced Anna Patrizio, a pharmacist, entrepreneur, and empowered woman.
Anna Patrizio graduated with a degree in Pharmacy from the Philippines and after getting her license, she found an opportunity to work in Canada. In her two decades of working with and for the community – she has made tremendous contributions in advocating for her profession.
In the early 2000s, Asia was experiencing a financial crisis and the economy was struggling to invest in pharmacies. Fortunately, Canada was eager to seek immigrants to fill in the pharmacist gaps in its provinces. After attending a bridging program for internationally-educated pharmacists at the University of Toronto, Anna was able to practice pharmacy in Canada.
Fighting for space is quite difficult, especially for an immigrant, but Anna believes in inciting change for the future and well-being of the citizens of Ontario. “Pharmacists may be humble or shy, but I believe it is high time we elevate the conversation on what role we have for the community,” shares Patrizio.
Elevating the Role of Community Pharmacists in Canada
Anna reflected on the emerging practice of Community Pharmacists in the Philippines and Canada. “In the last five years, Filipino Pharmacists were able to start vaccinating. In Ontario, we have been doing it for over ten years now,” shares Anna.
The province of Ontario now has a notable record of 10 million COVID-19 vaccinations alone done by pharmacists. Furthermore, numerous spaces are now occupied by pharmacists such as in the military, politics, academia, and manufacturing research. “When it comes to creating an impact, community pharmacists are essential” shares Anna. According to the recent Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Survey, 53% of Canadians would see their local pharmacists first for the yearly flu vaccine. “We provide value to the community because we are seen more,” she added.
“Pharmacy is a passion job for everyone regardless of why you may have entered it,” Anna shared proudly. She is an active member of Pharmacy Associations in Canada and the Philippines in which they are eager to mentor the next generation of professionals. A part of this mentorship is preceptorship and supporting updates in the Philippine pharmacy curriculum.
Community pharmacies are a strategic investment, especially for far-flung communities which is not unique to Canada and the Philippines. Citizens will save time and effort in going to the hospital hours away when they can receive an initial consultation in a local pharmacy. “It is a public health outreach practice where we work together with local doctors, nurses, community leaders, Barangay for Filipinos, and more,” Patrizio shared.
Change takes a lot of time to advocate for the rights of pharmacists in expanding their scope of practice. “It took us 10 years to convince the Ontario government to allow us to prescribe 13 minor ailments” shared Anna. This is a big win for public health in general as patients would just go to local pharmacies to get assessed and get a prescription. This is essential to help treat diseases more efficiently and allow pharmacists to refer patients to other specialists as needed.
Amplifying Voices as an Empowered Filipina Woman
A lot would know Anna Patrizio as a bright and friendly pharmacist from the Philippines. Redefining the pharmacy profession and empowering fellow Filipina women. Aside from her advocacy work, she is a proud business owner of Schomberg Village Pharmacy.
Her dedication and service were recognized by the Filipina Women’s Network as one of 2022’s Most Influential Filipino Women in the Founders and Pioneers category. Other recipients of this award include Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health of the City of Toronto, and Rechie Valdez, the first Filipina Member of Parliament representing Mississauga.
“When we were accepting the award in Lisbon, we were only given 10 words for our acceptance speeches,” she cheerfully reflected. Her wise words were “Hope invigorated will change the world” which is a testament to the hope that is ever-present in the world and people need just to ignite it. “Pharmacists have always talked about how small their contributions are, but that is not the case,” Patrizo shared proudly. “The domino effect we provide for each other will make a stronger society for everyone,” she added.
Being Filipino, Anna believes there are still systemic challenges that Filipino Canadians have to face living in Canada. Patrizio shares “The more I identify myself as a Filipino, the more grounded I feel and understand what my struggles are.” Anna believes that understanding both the cultural values of the Philippines and Canada is key to a thriving career as an immigrant. “Historically speaking, both countries have dark pasts, but understanding those mistakes can help us create our own value systems and give hope to other people,” she shared proudly.
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