The Ucluelet Co-op’s Riz Gumpac recently received the BC Pharmacy Association’s 2022 New Practitioner Award for being a champion of health services in a small community. (Nora O’Malley photo)

The Ucluelet Co-op’s Riz Gumpac recently received the BC Pharmacy Association’s 2022 New Practitioner Award for being a champion of health services in a small community. (Nora O’Malley photo)

West Coast pharmacist honoured with New Practitioner Award

Ucluelet Co-op pharmacy manager Riz Gumpac received the honour from the BC Pharmacy Association

Ucluelet Co-op pharmacist Riz Gumpac received the 2022 New Practitioner Award from the BC Pharmacy Association this month. The award is given to a pharmacist within the first five years of their career.

Gumpac, 30, accepted the accolade during a Dec. 1 live streamed awards event. He thanked his family, his mom, the Ucluelet Co-op team, and his fellow health care workers.

“It’s an honour for me to receive the New Practitioner Award. I live in a very remote, rural community and I would like to thank the whole community here for welcoming me here warmly,” Gumpac said in his acceptance speech.

He offered a special note of thanks to the Filipino community.

“Thank you for always being there for me and for always feeding me, especially on those days that I couldn’t cook because I was too busy,” said Gumpac, who immigrated to Canada from the Philippines when he was 18-years-old.

Gumpac graduated from the University of Saskatchewan’s pharmacy program in 2018. After working in Saskatchewan and Alberta for a couple years, the self-proclaimed “city boy” made the move to Ucluelet in the fall of 2020.

He says relocating to a small town has allowed him to exercise his passion as pharmacist more so than when he lived in a city.

“We are very strained in our health care resources. When doctors are not available, we become a resource for people to talk to,” Gumpac told the Westerly.

According to Ucluelet Co-op general manager Laurie Gehrke, Gumpac was nominated for the award by members in the community for his outstanding level of care and service.

“We are so fortunate to have him on our team,” said Gehrke, noting that the Ucluelet Co-op opened their pharmacy in 2020.

“It’s been a short two years, but he’s made a huge impact. People put a huge amount of trust in his knowledge,” she said.

Gumpac said West Coasters often go to their pharmacist for an initial assessment.

“If we can’t help them on a pharmacy level, we refer them to doctors. The clinic is only open here two days a week, so people come see us first and seek advice on how they manage until they can see the doctor,” he said.

The Pacific Rim would benefit from more nurse practitioners and staffing at the clinics, Gumpac adds.

“Health care is a team process. I can only do so well because of the people that I work with, and that includes the nurses in Hitacu, my past and present co-workers, doctors and town and definitely the medical office assistants and hospital nurses up in Tofino and other health professionals in our area,” Gumpac said.

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nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

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