Esha Randhawa, BSc(Bio)’10, BSc(PharmSci)’15

Esha Randhawa, BSc(Bio)’10, BSc(PharmSci)’15

Esha currently resides in Penticton, B.C. and works as a Pharmacy Manager for Rexall. As part of National Volunteer Week, Esha discusses her volunteer experience since childhood and the impact it has had on her academic and professional career.

What would you say are the benefits to volunteering?

Volunteering has been part of my life since I was a child. By volunteering for everything from Halloween haunted houses, to keeping score at sporting events, to being part of BioSoc, to educating youth in third world countries, I have experienced society in many ways. There have been times I had to have the courage to walk into a situation where I did not know anyone or what I was even doing. I learned to be adaptable and developed confidence in myself that I could always learn and be helpful.

How did you find out about your volunteer opportunity?

I found out about G.I.V.E. (Global Initiative for Village Empowerment) through UBC Med as it was a youth-run organization aimed to relieve poverty and the plight of HIV/AIDS in the rural community of Kanyawegi, Kenya. My role was within the health sector of this project and mainly included educating elementary and high school students about HIV/AIDS, how to practice safe sex and where to access health resources.

How is volunteering separate from your career?

Volunteering was integral in my life prior to having a career and will continue to be important after I retire from my career. I genuinely enjoy sharing my time, energy and knowledge with others and the volunteer opportunities are endless. Stepping out of my comfort zone is important for constantly growing my horizons and learning new things in life. The world is full of surprises and when I take the time to volunteer, I gain experiences and understandings which I might not have had otherwise.

How has volunteering impacted or complemented your career?

Not many children dream of being a pharmacist when they grow up, myself included. I joined the Uganda Medical Mission thinking I wanted to be a Dentist, and to be honest I did not even know what a pharmacist did. However, my time at the Uganda medical camp really opened my eyes to the need for access to safe and effective medications in third world countries. When I came home, I began to explore what it meant to be a pharmacist. I signed up for the PCAT two months later and the rest is history.

What did you learn about yourself through volunteering?

The list is endless. I think the most interesting thing I've learned about myself while volunteering in third world countries is how much I enjoy "unplugging". Not having internet, T.V., or a phone while also not having consistent electricity or running water, makes me genuinely happy. Having just the basics in life and forming real human connections helps me reset. When I become overwhelmed or stressed out in my life, I always look for a new volunteer opportunity.

Tell us about your role

As a pharmacist my role is to provide pharmaceutical services to patients in the community. This includes assessing the appropriateness of a prescription, potential side effects, interactions with medications or foods, and how likely the patient is to adhere to their regimen. As a manager, my focus is to create an environment which thrives on success; not only from a financial standpoint, but by more importantly creating a team atmosphere.

What attracted you to this organization?

I was initially interested in becoming a pharmacist because I wanted to be on the front lines of healthcare. I was also excited for the opportunity to give back to my hometown. Becoming a pharmacist in Penticton provided me with the ability to develop long-term relationships and trust from within the community while building lasting success within the company. I never imagined, that in less than a year, I would be promoted to pharmacy manager; and what an incredible experience that has been.

What excites you about this role/organization?

My role is dynamic between caring for my patients, championing my team, and managing the pharmacy. As a pharmacist, I am easily available to patients and thus I am faced with questions from all avenues of healthcare. I am constantly learning and growing. No one day is ever the same and each day presents with new challenges. As a manager, I appreciate having the flexibility to lead my team the way I feel would be most beneficial while still having support and guidance from within the company.

What is the best career advice you've received?

When I first became a pharmacist, my manager told me "make sure to always take care of your team and I promise you they will always take care of you in return".

At the time, I didn't know how to practice this within my career. As I became a leader, her advice resonated within me. Now this pearl is something I try to practice in every aspect of my life. Especially in a time like now, when Covid-19 has taken the world by storm, I am grateful to have a team that runs into the fire with me every single day, despite their own physical and mental exhaustion. We work cohesively to ensure patient safety and care, while also adapting to new information on a day-to-day basis. I believe that I am the pharmacist I am today because I have a team that stands with me.