How are pharmacists contributing to the COVID-19 response? We recently spoke to Christina Tulk, Chair of the Canadian Pharmacists Association about it:
Christina Tulk graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland’s School of Pharmacy in 2002. Prior to that, she completed a Bachelor of Science (Honors) with a major in biochemistry in 1999. She went on to complete her Doctorate of Pharmacy from the University of Colorado in 2016. She started as a staff pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart after graduation in 2002 and became an Associate/Owner in 2006. She is the current Associate/Owner of a large-format Shoppers Drug Mart in her hometown of Corner Brook.
Christina was the President-Elect of the Pharmacists Association of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2005 and is a Past Chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board. She was named one of the top 100 Pharmacists of the last 100 years in the province of Newfoundland in 2012. Christina has been a Board Director of the Canadian Pharmacists Association since June 2017. She is active in her community and is a Past Chair of the Corner Brook Downtown Business Association and the past Chair of the Humber Community YMCA Board.
Christina was born, raised and currently resides in Corner Brook with her furry feline friends, Teddy and Izzy. She enjoys golfing and camping in the summer and snowmobiling and skiing in the winter. She has a third degree black belt and is a recognized Sensei in Shotokan Karate.
How has the pandemic impacted your work? If you could get Canadians to understand one thing about your work during the pandemic, what would it be?
The pandemic has significantly impacted the pharmacy workflow. Pharmacies are busier and teams are stretched in an effort to maintain consistent service to our patients. This has challenged our mental health. I ask that Canadians be patient with us. There is often a lot happening in the background that is not seen by patients standing at the pharmacy counter. Despite this, pharmacists and pharmacy teams are committed to providing the best healthcare possible to our patients. We continue to be the most accessible health care providers and we remain steadfast in our resolve to serve our patients and communities.
How has the pandemic impacted your personal life?
As a pharmacy owner, I have had to work more hours to support my team during busy periods which has taken me away from my family, friends and personal downtime. I’ve been tired and frustrated on occasion, but we all have experienced similar emotions. I have a deeper appreciation for the supports that I have and the importance of taking time for myself.
Have you been vaccinated? If so, how did you feel when you found out that you were scheduled to get the vaccine? If not, how has the wait impacted your mental health?
At this point, I have not been vaccinated but I have pre-registered. I am patient and have trust in the process in place for vaccinations in my own province. We are lucky to have low case counts and a Chief Medical Officer here in Newfoundland who has worked tirelessly to keep our province safe. Certainly, finally getting the vaccine will bring a huge relief, but I keep myself safe in the meantime by following orders from Public Health.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to pharmacy students during this time?
To our pharmacy students: this experience has been life-changing. It has tested our resolve as healthcare professionals time and time again. It is so important to never make light of the difference that you can make in the health of your patient. And often, it can be the simplest action – a telephone call to check in on a patient who is struggling with a new diagnosis or medication, or a friendly conversation at the counter. Be proud of your profession and commit to always practicing to your full scope.
It has been a long and hard year. What keeps you going? Are there any hopeful stories that you can share with us?
My pharmacy team keeps me going! I am privileged to work with an awesome group of professionals who have stepped up since the beginning of this pandemic. Knowing that I have made a difference in the health of a patient makes me smile. The vaccine has also been a game-changer. It represents a light at the end of the tunnel. If we continue to work together, we will get through this. I look forward to travelling and returning to some sense of normalcy again.