Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association

Canadian Pharmacist of the Year

Stephanie Burden

Profile picture of Stephanie Burden

This award recognizes a pharmacist who demonstrates leadership and exemplifies the evolution of the pharmacy profession toward an expanded role in health care.

When Stephanie Burden opened Complete Care Pharmacy in 2016, she launched something unique in her community of Rocky Harbour, NL—a health-care hub with pharmacy at the centre; a place patients and other health professionals could depend on for education, advice and help navigating the health system.

Early on, Stephanie introduced health-care services not previously available in Rocky Harbour, including immunizations, minor ailment prescribing, medication reviews, compliance packaging and even same-day delivery to communities 90 km away.

In a rural area, where the community pharmacist is often the only health-care provider, these services have helped bring health care closer to home. “I really wanted to capitalize on that core value of familiarity when it comes to rural communities,” she says. “It gives patients a touch point. Somewhere, and someone, they are familiar with. The real heart of rural living is knowing everyone, waving at your neighbours. That shouldn’t change when you enter the health-care system.”

Stephanie is dedicated to ongoing patient education and building relationships with her community. Her Facebook page, Stephanie Burden, RPh – Pharmacist, is a way for her to share health information and tips with a broad audience. “One of my favourite things about the practice of pharmacy is being able to teach and educate patients,” she says. “I really wanted to get out from behind my counter to meet you where you are: on your phone, in your living room, on your lunch break.”  

The critical role her pharmacy plays in the community has only grown under Stephane’s leadership during the pandemic. As fears rose during the early days of COVID-19, Stephanie ensured her patients could continue to access the care they needed to stay healthy. Although public hours were reduced, the pharmacy offered phone and online ordering, and even made hard-to-find hand sanitizer for a local medical clinic.

Stephanie also leveraged her social media experience to reach out to patients during the pandemic, creating videos that offered advice on how to stay safe and calm. “COVID-19 made me feel more disconnected from my patients than I ever have,” she says. “Social media allowed me to stay connected, to give them advice on how to adapt and live well through COVID-19. I just wanted to be that dependable figure for them.”

As an entrepreneur, Stephanie is passionate about sharing her experiences. She is generous with her time and ideas, encouraging her peers to embrace expanded practice and inspiring the next generation of pharmacy owners. Through meet and greets, mentorship, dispensary tours and speaking with aspiring entrepreneurs, Stephanie is a role model for others who may be walking a similar path, inspiring other pharmacists to go after their dreams. “The journey to pharmacy entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster, but every day is filled with opportunities if you choose to see it from that perspective,” she says. “Everybody that comes in is an opportunity to grow your practice, to be a better pharmacist. Every day you have the opportunity to really care for your patients and make a difference in their lives and in their health.”

Stephanie’s advice, especially to women who are considering ownership or leadership positions, is to be authentic, don’t be intimidated by what others are doing and know that you will never be 100% ready to take that next step: “Believe that what you’re doing and what you bring to the table really matters,” she says. “Find your core strength and let it guide you.”

Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree from the Memorial University of Newfoundland School of Pharmacy and is currently completing the PharmD for Pharmacists program at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.

Meet Stephanie Burden

On being named Pharmacist of the Year

How COVID-19 changed my practice

Mentoring and building your pharmacy business

Pharmacy as a health care hub in a rural community

Women in pharmacy leadership