Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association

Pharmacy Check-in: Meet Shams Qaend


Shams Qaend headshot

Shams Qaend, PharmD, ACRP-CP, CCRP (she/her)
Director, RxCourse Institute Inc.

Shams Qaend is an International Pharmacy Bridging Program graduate from the University of Toronto, a PharmD graduate from University of Jordan and an ACRP-CP and CCRP certified clinical researcher, entrepreneur, web and phone applications developer. With a passion for technology, Shams co-founded the RxCourse Institute Inc. platform in pharmacy education and is currently the Director of the organization. Upon her arrival in Canada in 2018, Shams noticed that immigration is like hitting the factory re-set button on your phone, except, you’re re-setting yourself as a human being. She was shocked at how difficult it seemed and that there were so many who just give up! She was especially bothered by all the women she met in their 30s and 40s who had owned pharmacies in their home countries and put their own dreams -on the back burner upon their arrival to Canada. Drawing on her own experiences, Shams is a passionate advocate for international pharmacists becoming practicing pharmacists in Canada, and a pharmacy career educator in newcomers’ organizations like the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). Her ultimate goal is to ease the path on international pharmacists to get a foothold in the Canadian health-care system, to replace the journey of licensure from broken hearts and shattered dreams to success, happiness and joy of achievements. 

Q&A with Shams

What is the most rewarding element of your pharmacy practice? 

When I hear: “Thank you so much, you’ve helped me a lot,” with a smile at the end of the conversation, I forget all hardships I have been going through after these soothing words. It means I have done my job and made the life of a patient a little bit easier.

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

Cardiovascular diseases: When I was in fifth grade, I heard about a surgery called CABG. Later, I was involved in my dad’s care plan after he suffered multiple myocardial infarctions, two strokes, and many chest pains, and eventually he passed away following one final heart attack. It’s painful knowing that most of fast mover medications are either cardio, blood pressure or cholesterol medications. There aren’t enough campaigns for smoking cessation, exercise, and low sodium low fat diets to save our beloved ones. We need to start with ourselves, and I’m passionate about making sure my patients have all the information they need to maintain their cardiovascular health.

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

Pharmacists could make an even greater difference in health care if they were empowered to administer all types of injections and vaccinations, and we must work together to change the legislation to allow it.

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

That we can help them quit smoking, we can create action plans for smoking cessation, also prescribing some smoking cessation medications.

What makes you proud to be a pharmacist? 

Being the closest health-care provider to the patients; the front line for COVID-19 vaccines and testing, the help line when the doctor is not there, and a trustworthy adviser for health needs.

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

We need to give better job opportunities to international pharmacy graduates who are still going through the licensure process, paying them from day one and accepting them even if they don’t have Canadian experience. IPGs make up more than third of all pharmacists in Canada, and they bring many talents and experiences. Caring for them is a win for the Canadian health-care system.