Meet Erin Barker

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Trust in the white coat: how Pharmacist in Charge, Erin Barker combines empathy with science

When Erin Barker joined Icon Group’s clinical pharmacy team in 2019, she was already well versed in the challenge of being both a people person and a health professional.

A natural empath, Erin values the relationships she builds with patients. In her role at Icon Group under the Slade Health pharmacy division, Erin is able to spend her days supporting patients and earning their trust and respect.

Finding her calling

When Erin Barker was fresh out of high school, she read the results of a survey that would help chart the course of her life.

“It was about how much people trust certain professions,” Erin says. “I’ll always remember that pharmacists were listed as one of the most trusted.”

Erin had always been interested in science. But despite working as an assistant in a community pharmacy in her senior high school years, she’d never considered pharmacy as a profession.

However, two degrees and seven years of pharmaceutical practice later, you’d be hard-pressed to convince Erin to hang up the white coat.

“As a pharmacist, you’re respected by the community, people trust you. That is such a privilege – it’s a great career.”

Thriving under pressure

Working as a Pharmacist in Charge in a hospital setting can be challenging, but for Erin, that’s what makes her role so rewarding. She expertly juggles shifting priorities to ensure the best health outcomes for patients.

Understanding the patient journey requires an expert level of medication knowledge, coordination of supply and trusting relationships between all the personnel involved.

“We have a lot of patients with multiple health conditions,” Erin says. “They can easily be on 10-15 medications at a time. We need to be able to problem solve daily, or cases can snowball.”

And whenever Erin does need a helping hand, she knows the wider Icon support network is always available.

“If we have trouble ordering stock, we have a national procurement team we can reach out to. It’s the same if we have any HR issues or concerns. We also have one-on-one meetings with our Area Manager, every week. There are so many parts to Icon Group that work together to really look after their people. You feel supported and nurtured to be able to do your job well.”

As the Pharmacist in Charge, Erin also invests time in supporting her team. And it’s clear she views them as people first and employees second. When we caught up with her, she’d brought in a cheese platter to acknowledge the team’s efforts after a challenging week.

“I’m the type of manager who rewards my team with food,” Erin laughs. “Because we have such a small group and work so closely together, we support each other well. All the different personalities bring something different, and we click nicely which makes come to work every day so enjoyable.”

Delivery that hits home

Erin thrives in a culture of finding new and better ways to do things. Before Toronto, she worked for Slade at Maitland Private Hospital, a role she considers one of her career highlights because it involved a huge boost to patient care services.

When Erin arrived at Maitland, the hospital was in a state of flux, working to establish a specialised oncology service. Erin coordinated the pharmacy aspect of the oncology service implementation and took pride in placing the first-ever medication order for an oncology patient at the hospital.

“It was rewarding to develop the processes and procedures. Once I’d done that, I handed it over to the Clinical Pharmacist. It was really nice to see her take on the role, implement the policies and procedures, and see it all work effectively for our patients.”

Dan feels fortunate that his role allows him to connect with other oncology pharmacists through Icon Group’s inbuilt network, to share knowledge and expertise that help patients as they progress through their treatment. It not only provides professional connection, but also personal connection, which has a huge impact in this challenging industry.

“Getting to know your patients as well as I do can be a double-edged sword at times, because oncology can be a very sad field. But our team here are very supportive of each other, and Icon has a lot of support services you can access as well. It’s nice to know there’s people you can talk to who have been in the same situation.”

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