Renal pharmacist Cliff Lo's interest in pharmacy dates from the time of a tragic event in his family – the death of his grandfather.
As he recalls, his ailing grandfather's health was getting worse in spite of the medication he was taking. Although a physician had prescribed the medication with the best of intentions, a pharmacist involved in the case believed the prescription was inappropriate.
Cliff acknowledges his grandfather was seriously ill at the time, but he believes medication error was at least partly to blame for his grandfather's eventual death. That realization has led to a career in pharmacy and a personal commitment to promoting the safest and most effective use of medications.
Cliff completed his BSc in pharmacy at UBC in 2006 and, while working as a pharmacist at Surrey Memorial Hospital, continued with post graduate education at the University of Washington. He received his Doctorate in pharmacy in 2009 and discovered the appeal of renal pharmacy while working at Surrey Memorial.
"Initially, I was influenced by a renal pharmacist at the hospital and I decided I really wanted to join the renal program," says Cliff. "I also found it very appealing that renal attracts dedicated people from different disciplines who all work together collaboratively. You don't really see that kind of team approach happening in other programs."
This year Cliff completed his Masters degree in health administration, and was accepted for a BC Renal Agency administrative fellowship. He currently juggles the demands of the fellowship with his half-time responsibility as Surrey Memorial's renal pharmacist.
Cliff says the fellowship involves some intense demands, but has provided a lot of opportunities for learning.
"The big lesson for me so far is that having a good idea for what you think should be done to address a problem isn't good enough," says Cliff. "Before leaping to a solution you need to fully understand the situation, and that means taking the time to collect all the data you can."
Cliff says the way the BC Renal Agency operates, taking decisions based on objective data and clearly defined strategic goals, has been something of a revelation for him.
"I think the agency's approach to improving care for patients is exemplary and provides an effective model for many other health care organizations."