Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association

Pharmacy Check-in: Meet Areen Duqoum


Areen Duqoum, BSc, PharmD (she/her)
Pharmacist, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton
Hamilton, ON


Areen Duqoum is a 2018 PharmD graduate from the University of Waterloo who currently splits her professional time between hospital and community pharmacy settings. She works full-time at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, in the schizophrenia inpatient unit. This position provides her with the opportunity to collaborate with an interprofessional team consisting of social workers, nurses, psychiatrists and a nurse practitioner. In this role, she feels she is coming to better appreciate the intersection between medicine and law. Areen also works part-time at the Shoppers Drug Mart in Fergus. She feels that her role in community pharmacy helps her better appreciate the various transitions patients navigate in their health-care journeys. Working in a more rural area also helps her better appreciate the resources available in urban centers. There are many highlights to community practice, but her favourite task continues to be counseling patients on their first medication for a chronic disease. 

Q&A with Areen

We caught up with Areen ahead of International Women's Day on March 8 to chat about the importance of providing equitable pharmacy care.

What is the most rewarding element of your pharmacy practice? 

The ability to follow patients’ progress. My current community and tertiary care hospital practice positions both allow me to follow patients on a longer-term basis, enabling me to continuously adapt recommendations based on daily patient progress.

What specific clinical practice areas or advocacy issues are of interest to you and why? 

I'm incredibly passionate about mental health, gender-affirming care, and access to safer supply. I believe pharmacists are ideally suited to help patients navigate the lack of clear guidelines in these practice areas. 

What is one practice area where you feel pharmacists could increase their role that would lead to better patient outcomes?  

Grassroots advocacy. While it will always be incredibly important to educate patients, it is perhaps just as important to continue educating our health-care colleagues about the numerous ways our skills can be utilized (and how that looks in different health-care settings). A simple recent example of this is sharing my experiences with minor ailments prescribing over lunch breaks with my hospital colleagues. 

What is one thing you wish all patients knew about what pharmacists can do? 

I wish patients knew that having all medications at one pharmacy really improves the quality of service a community pharmacist can provide, and enables smoother transitions between health-care institutions. 

What makes you proud to be a pharmacist? 

Our ability to get things done. Communicating with community pharmacies across the country to ensure our patients have access to their medications. Liaising with pharmacies across the city to find medications that are in short supply. Tracking down providers to recommend renally adjusted doses and to narrow antibiotic spectrums. Calling the lab to confirm appropriate timing of blood draws and medication administrations . . . All the behind the scenes—and the sometimes unacknowledged—roles that we play to ensure the 5 rights of medication administration.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your practice or about anything else that is important to you?

The health-care system is under a tremendous amount of strain adding to the baseline levels of stress inherent to health-care practice. If I could impart a single piece of advice it would be to act with patience and grace. With patients, with colleagues and, most importantly, with ourselves. 

March 8 is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is Embrace Equity. What does that mean to you? 

There is always a benefit to exposing organizations to different ideas and voices, as these voices reflect the diversity in the populations we serve. Women represent 60-70% of pharmacists, but only 30-44% of pharmacy leadership roles are held by women. To me, embracing equity means identifying and resolving underlying reasons for this gap (1). 

According to Statistics Canada, in 2022, 52% of women ≥15 years of age are caregivers, in comparison to 42% of men (2). With workplaces embracing hybrid work structures, perhaps implementing more flexibility into pharmacy practices can give additional women the confidence to pursue leadership roles. 

Why is it important for women to be taking on leadership roles in pharmacy?

The more our decision-making teams reflect our patient populations, the better the care we are able to provide. Continuing to train and encourage women to pursue leadership roles ensures that decision making accounts for, values and celebrates women. 

Do you have any advice for female pharmacy students who are getting ready to launch their careers?

Coming on my 5th year of pharmacy practice, my best advice is reflection. Clinical areas of interest can change dramatically as you interact with patients and providers in practice! Taking some time to reflect on your passions can help shape your career goals, and serve as a driving force to overcome some of the difficult parts of daily pharmacy practice. 


1. Rabieenia A. Pharmacy Own-HER-Ship: The plight of women in pharmacy leadership in a female-dominated field. Canadian Healthcare Network. Published May 3, 2022. Accessed March 2, 2023.

2. More than half of women in Canada are caregivers. Statistics Canada. Published January 5, 2023. Accessed March 2, 2023.