Sumaiya Nuur is a Canadian, Muslim woman of Somali origin. She has seen a slew of programs and industries during her undergraduate studies. Now, as a Pharmacy Technician at Pharma Plus, she looks back at her academic trajectory.

Q: Can you describe your career path into pharmaceutical sciences? A: I tried out a lot of different courses, but settled on a major in Biochemistry at the University of Guelph. If I had to pick a reason, it would be to challenge myself… I wanted to see if I was dedicated enough to pull through. There are two ways really to get to the technician role: You can take a two-year diploma at a college, or you can take certain science courses as part of your undergraduate degree. I took the second route. It’s a regulated title, so you have to be registered with the College of Pharmacists and write a licensing exam.

Q: What does your current role involve? I graduated and started working during the pandemic, which was a challenging time to enter the workforce, to say the least. The field is super hectic right now, especially if you’re working in a hospital or retail, like me! I’m always on my feet and interacting with clients. But there were also more opportunities due to Covid-19. I was able to support preparing vaccines as a placement student, and as a graduate, I can even administer the vaccine.

Q: How does spirituality drive your work? Deen was a big motivator for me. I think a lot of people have this idea: We won’t have a place in the world as women or we won’t be contributing members of society. I didn’t want to use religion as an excuse to sit at home and not do anything. 
According to religion, we’re supposed to be go-getters and people that bring positive change. And whatever you do, do it with excellence, no matter what profession

Q: What’s your advice for students entering the field? I would advise them to have thick skin. Unlike doctors, you’re interacting with patients for a longer period of time. You might face pushy patients that will rush you or demean you, or there might be microaggressions. You have to hold yourself back and not react to them. My second piece of advice is to have something planned for the future. Being a pharmacy technician can be limiting in terms of promotions. I’m looking right now for other ways to grow. For example, you can take your experience as a manager and become a project manager in any field.

Q: Do you have a motto that you live by? I always tell people, ‘don’t be afraid to make changes.’ Don’t let external pressures stop you from making the decision you need to make. People might ask: Why are you hopping around? But according to research, the longer you stay, the less chance there is to get a promotion. It’s kind of counter-intuitive. Don’t be afraid to switch a job or program that isn’t working for you.

Author/Interviewer:

Saamiyah Ali-Mohammed

HBSc, MPH, MSW(c)

Community Health & Education Specialist, CAMH[1]