By Ayah Victoria McKhail
Special to SaltWire Network
For Erica MacLean of Halifax, adjusting to life in Canada’s biggest city and in a province with the country’s second-highest rate of COVID-19 infections, has been a challenge, but one where she’s excelling.
“Pharmacy’s a great career for many reasons; there are various routes you can take and each day’s different. It’s the perfect balance between patient facing care and medical sciences.”
Since completing pharmacy residency with The Ottawa Hospital and Hôpital Montfort in July 2018, the 29-year old has been practising as a clinical pharmacist at a major teaching and research hospital in the heart of downtown Toronto. Her first area of work was general internal medicine and currently, she’s with inpatient pharmacy services.
As a frontline worker during the pandemic, she’s required to respond to needs as they arise, so she’s constantly dispatched to different areas. She begins her day by connecting with patients who were admitted overnight in order to determine if there are any acute issues that necessitate immediate attention.
“Since the pandemic started and personal protective equipment (PPE) became a concern, pharmacy has adapted its work flow to ensure we’re saving PPE for the most important interventions. This means calling into patients’ rooms to discuss medication-related issues,” she said.
“Other ways pharmacists are helping is through managing drug shortages; offering alternatives to products that may no longer be available; and harmonizing medication administration times to minimize the frequency nurses are required to enter the room, therefore conserving PPE. Often, I finish my day with follow ups and monitoring drug therapy my patients are receiving.”
MacLean was raised in Fall River along with her brother, Colin. Her parents, William and Sally, built their first home there shortly after marrying and continue to live there today.
As a child, she was inspired by her parents’ strong work ethic and intrigued by her mother’s dedication to the nursing profession, so the ambitious pupil began career planning early on. “Watching her and seeing the satisfaction she derived from each day made me want to focus my sights on a career in health care.”
In Grade 9, she had an opportunity to interview a hospital pharmacist for an assignment. Fascinated, her path became clear.
“I began my studies at Dalhousie University in 2009 when I took prerequisite courses for the bachelor of science in pharmacy program. I started my pharmacy degree in 2010 and graduated in 2014.”
During this momentous time, she also met her fiancé, Toronto-born Luca Muratori, also a Dalhousie alumni. In 2013, the students had a chance encounter at The Dome, a Halifax hotspot. On July 31, 2021, the couple will marry in the city where they fell in love.
This love also translates to a deep connection to the province of MacLean’s birth. Like so many, she’s been struggling to process the recent tragedies that have had a devastating effect on the close-knit communities that characterize the East Coast.
“My heart breaks for the people who’ve lost loved ones. As Nova Scotians, we’re known for wrapping our arms around those who are suffering. Our grief is intensified due to the current social situation.”
The tragedies also have her feeling homesick.
“I most love and miss the people of Nova Scotia; you’d be hard pressed to find kinder, more welcoming people. I also miss the fresh air, ocean and proximity to nature. While Toronto is lively and has the excitement of a big city, you can’t beat a 20-minute drive to the beach or hiking trail. And I can’t forget about the kitchen parties with my favourite East Coast tunes!”
And while Ontario isn’t exactly known for kitchen parties, the sense of belonging she feels with Muratori’s family helps.
“Having family around has made the transition much easier and I can’t thank them enough for their support.”
As the couple advance their careers, they haven’t ruled out the possibility of returning to Nova Scotia in order to raise a family.
“Nova Scotia will always represent home to me; a place I’m proud to be from, which has shaped me into the person I am today. Initially, when
I told my father Luca was from Toronto, his first question was, ‘Does he want to stay in Halifax?’ Now, he frequently asks when we’ll be moving home.”