Convocation Spotlight: Navjot Singh

Navjot Singh feels lucky to have built the connections and networks she did as a student in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

02 June 2022

2022_singh_navjot-7003---navjot-singh.jpgNavjot Singh feels lucky to have built the connections and networks she did as a student in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The opportunities that resulted, she says, allowed her to experience great personal growth.

“As a member of the graduating class of 2022, I am excited to watch my peers move forth with their careers and in anticipation of the accolades and catalysts of positive change that I know they are bound to be in the years ahead,” she says. 

As she graduates this week with a Doctor of Pharmacy  – part of the first graduating class of the new Entry to Practice Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program – Singh shares her passion for the role of pharmacists in the community, and reflects on her academic journey and professional plans.

What drew you to this area of study?
Before starting the PharmD program I worked in a community pharmacy, where I was in awe of how pharmacists served their communities. Pharmacists are highly trusted by the public. Community members can easily find a pharmacy a short distance from their homes, making pharmacists the most easily accessible sources of medical information at the frontlines of health care.

I was drawn by the act of service of community pharmacists who help individuals of all walks of life, from addressing therapy questions to immunizing our communities. At the end of my academic journey, I can wholeheartedly say that the profession of pharmacy is truly embedded in acts of selfless service and advocacy for our patients.  I am grateful for having been welcomed into the profession four years ago and excited to follow in the footsteps of my mentors.

What moment are you most proud of?
My greatest pride will forever be the number of incredible individuals I’ve been so fortunate to cross paths with and be inspired by. Behind any of my individual accomplishments is a long list of names of unremitting sources of inspiration and encouragement. My peers and mentors from the program are some of the kindest, most authentic and skilled advocates I’ve met. The fondest opportunity I have been gifted would be my two incredible years serving as a student leader, thanks to the trust of my peers. During my time as a student leader, I grew in ways I could not have imagined possible, as I learned to balance transparency, professionalism and welcoming feedback. 

What was the biggest challenge you faced?
That would have to be learning to be gentle with myself. We learn to put a lot of pressure on ourselves in today’s world of self-expectations, and I have been guilty of filling my plate without taking time to be kind with myself. Running for the Alberta Pharmacy Students’ Association Vice-President Academic (VP Academic) in 2020 required a lot of courage. I had submitted my application, then made the call to have my name removed from the ballot, and then later decided to run in the byelections. I learned it’s OK to take time, but when making a decision, it must come from a place of sincerity. Moving forward, I hope to take on challenges that excite me, while granting myself grace to be gentle with myself on the journey.

What comes next for you?
I will be joining the British Columbia Lower Mainland Pharmacy Services team, completing my Year 1 pharmacy practice residency as a part of their pediatric program. I’ve consistently worked with children and pediatric patients, so this next step feels very fitting. I hope to one day be able to pass on the same level of support and teaching to new learners as they enter the profession.

What advice would you give to students entering the PharmD program?
Student life is filled with many uncertainties as we are beginning to piece together our career paths. You are far more resilient than you know, so give yourself a break and reflect on this tremendous journey you’ve already powered through. Whether you’ve thought of pharmacy as a career or not, I’d encourage you to look for shadowing or discussion opportunities with pharmacists from all different career paths. You’ll certainly find us in communities and hospitals, but you’ll also find us in academia, industry, governance, and doing policy/advocacy work, just to name a few. If you’re looking for a career of patient care, lifelong learning, and a sense of rewarding work, then the Entry to Practice PharmD program may be the next puzzle piece to your career journey.