Pharmacy Mentor Spotlight
Residency Coordinator, Lower Mainland Pharmacy Services Residency Program
Profile submitted by:
Description of how they are a great mentor or has positively influenced you and the pharmacy profession:
Usually, these things are written by someone junior, in reverence of someone much more senior and experienced – this is the traditional mentee and mentor relationship. However, there is no better time than in 2021 to disrupt this norm. Let me tell you the story of my friend and mentor, Dr. Michelle Hinch.
I finished the UBC PharmD program 1 year prior to Michelle. In our joint classes together, she remembers me as the fierce senior who asked difficult questions in seminar. After graduation, I went to work at Kelowna General Hospital and Michelle to Royal Columbian Hospital. Although Michelle and I moved to Vancouver at the same time in 2010, we would not really get to know each other until 2015 – she took a position in Internal Medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital, where I had been working in cardiac surgery since 2014.
Before I met Michelle, she already had a reputation of being a go-getter. When she first moved to Vancouver from Canmore, she had already worked in hospital pharmacy for 5 years. However, having never completed a hospital pharmacy residency, she was automatically relegated to work in the dispensary without any option for direct patient care. Given the structure of clinical pharmacy in BC, it was expected that she would remain there for the rest of her career, unless something drastic took place. Getting into the UBC PharmD program having never completed a residency, with 2 young children, and a husband concomitantly pursuing his PhD is probably as drastic as things get. She would describe these 2 years as the most trying years of her life, but the analgesic to temporary pain is the sight of a greater goal. Michelle never lost sight of her goals – she was going to get back to direct patient care, no matter what.
The Michelle I met in 2015 is not the Michelle I know today. In the beginning, she was the new pharmacist who only wanted to talk about work and renovating her house during what was supposed to be my respite during lunch. As our interactions increased through mutual patients, residents, and various departmental activities, her drive and exuberance for quality was infectious. My introverted self slowly started to warm towards her extroversion. As a self-proclaimed pessimistic realist, Michelle taught me that we need extroverts and their positivity in this world – they are the ones who can brighten the energy in a room, make a quiet introvert feel warm, and they are always forthcoming about exactly what they are thinking.
At St. Paul’s, Michelle’s career continued to grow, and although she started in internal medicine, she soon had an opportunity to pursue her passion for infectious diseases in antimicrobial stewardship. She might have continued in that area indefinitely, but an opportunity for leadership arose as the Clinical Supervisor. That would be the last position Michelle would hold at St. Paul’s before accepting a position as the coordinator of the largest residency program in all of Canada. These past 2 years as Clinical Supervisor, Michelle, together with our pharmacy leadership, led our team through Cerner implementation and now a pandemic. I have never seen anyone, in the face of so much change, lead with so much poise and grace.
In life, it is rare to form a serendipitous friendship where both people continue to inspire each other with reciprocal courage, passion, and vulnerability. Your mentor does not have to be decades older than you, be at the end of their career, or someone you admire from afar. Your mentor may be your best friend at work, that office companion you can banter candidly with, or the colleague you can grow together with. After all, relationship psychotherapist Esther Perel said it the best: the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.
Sometimes, being inspired is not about the direct impact one person has on another. Sometimes, knowing how someone persevered through all challenges despite an upstream battle is encouraging enough. Each one of us is filled with these stories of strength and resilience and we need to learn how to be more vulnerable with our colleagues and those around us. In this way, we can find mentors everywhere in our lives, whether it be in the workplace, at home, or among our friends.
Michelle – thank you for being my dear friend, my driven colleague, and my serendipitous mentor. Cheers to many more years of this.