Professor Zubin Austin on what it means to be a pharmacist

I dropped Professor Zubin Austin an email out of the blue inviting him on to join me on the PIP podcast to discuss a number of aspects of pharmacy. I was delighted to hear the ‘ping’ of his positive reply landing in my inbox.

We got together and had a chat about what it means to be a pharmacist and explored what many in our profession believe to be an existential crisis of pharmacist identity.

Professor Austin is very interested in all aspects of how pharmacists perceive themselves and how they behave in practice.

We discussed some of the following topics:

  • Procrastinating perfection.
  • Tolerance for ambiguity.
  • The death of the expert.
  • Professional self-mutilation.
  • The fact that the seemingly fashionable movement to IP might not be the best direction for our profession.

I have to say that this was one of the most insightful and interesting conversations I have had in recent years. Zubin and his colleagues in Toronto are involved in extremely important work. As pharmacists, we are grappling what we are for and Professor Austin and his team are helping us to understand where we go next.

Professor Zubin Austin

Professor Austin’s research interests focus on the personal and professional development of the health human resources workforce. As the complexity and interdependency of care provision has advanced, the importance of investing in continuous professional development of health professionals increases. Professor Auston’s research recognises that artificial divisions between “personal” and “professional” development are counterproductive to the goal of enhanced quality care. Failure to recognise these important development needs in the workforce leads to burnout, disengagement, and ultimately error. A particular focus of his research involves internationally educated health professionals, a large and growing component of the Canadian workforce who have particular needs for professional and personal development.

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