What is your title and where do you currently work? 

I am the Pharmacist and Pharmacy Manager of a rural community pharmacy just outside of Sudbury, and I am also the founder of Concise Curated Counselling, a cue card-based drug information resource. 

How long have you been an OPA member and what led you to join? 

I joined OPA the moment I could, as a pharmacy student. I felt that advocacy is extremely important, and I saw some of the work OPA had done to expand the scope of pharmacists regarding injections and other services while I was working as a pharmacy assistant. I also enjoyed the member benefits offered, as well as liability insurance, all in one place. 

How did you first hear about OPA? 

I first heard about OPA when I was working as a pharmacy assistant; I had noticed OPA forms (e.g. flu shot consent, pharmaceutical opinion program) being used by the pharmacist to streamline workflow and services. 

Tell us about your career journey in pharmacy. What led you to come up with the concept of your company, Concise Curated Counselling? 

I started working at the local Walmart pharmacy when I was 16 years old as a front shop associate, working the cash register and stocking shelves. Then I took the opportunity to complete my high school co-op there, during which I learned more about the role of the pharmacy assistant; putting prescription drugs away, learning the pharmacy management system (Connexus at the time), and filling prescriptions. This then led to part-time employment as a pharmacy assistant, until I was accepted at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy. I was then able to work as a pharmacy student, counselling patients and helping the pharmacist perform services and resolve patient issues. Once I finished Pharmacy School, I found myself having the privilege of managing a brand new rural community pharmacy, which I still do today. On occasion, I also do relief work for some of the business contacts I’ve made in the region. As a pharmacy student, learning how to counsel all the drugs I encountered took untold amounts of time scouring several tertiary references and also primary literature, as no single reference could give this summary for a drug. That being said, once I looked one up I added the necessary counselling info to a Word document. When I asked every pharmacist I knew about what reference they use for patient counselling, they only had answers to specific pieces and also said they used their judgement. I quickly realized that having everything in one place ensured I didn’t forget important details, and colour-coding as well as symbols made this even easier and quicker. I felt that putting all this in a cue card format (which is sometimes used to memorize things like monograph information on the top 100 drugs) was ideal in a pinch when a patient was waiting to be counselled on an unfamiliar drug, and you’d rather not call them later after hours of research, or even worse “wing it” as I’ve seen pharmacists do. 

How has your membership at OPA influenced your professional development and career growth? 

OPA has exposed me to fantastic references that I rarely see used amongst my colleagues (for example, Pharmacist’s Letter Canada), but that yield massive continuing education dividends. OPA’s practice updates have also ensured that I was ahead of the curve on all things pharmacy. I am especially thinking of during the COVID-19 pandemic, when vaccine eligibility could change day to day! There are also lots of free or discounted continuing education courses that have enabled me to increase my comfort giving injections and dispensing Methadone and Suboxone. 

Have you used any OPA membership benefits (e.g. insurance, OPA MemberPerks or additional member discounts) in the last 12 months, can you please share about your experience?  

I have always held and been satisfied with OPA’s liability insurance, and I also enjoy discounts on references like Pharmacist’s Letter Canada and RxFiles. I also make use of several discounts like the mobile phone plan, home insurance, and the GoodLife membership (pre-COVID and pre-home gym). The cost of the membership is quickly recuperated by making use of these offers. 

How do Counselling Cue Cards benefit pharmacists? 

The counselling cue cards arm pharmacists with efficient and compact medication counselling information they need to ensure patients don’t get lost in the details. They help you develop your own counselling style by giving you the “greatest hits” of counselling pearls that you can customize for your patient. Skip the wordy paragraphs and redundant information that your pharmacy management software or vendor already gives you in its most updated form (drug cost, strength, dosage forms, etc), and enjoy handy hard-to-find pearls (e.g. what’s an adequate trial for a drug, which is often absent from monographs).  

As pharmacy evolves, how do you envision the future of Concise Curated Counselling? 

We already include several other practice tools, like minor ailment prescribing templates (if you find software too costly or rigid), templates to help streamline services, and more. We have a free weekly newsletter featuring a counselling conundrum, with a concise conclusion, to share possible navigations of real-world patient interactions. Depending on user feedback, we have many ideas to support the expanding scope of pharmacists, and to expand the cue cards to include things like translations in French, veterinary information, and additional symbols/colour-coding. I think the need for efficient counselling will remain and even become more prominent in the pharmacist’s role in a world with artificial intelligence and increasingly powerful technologies. 

Can you share any memorable patient stories or interactions? 

I once had a patient that was taking mirtazapine for sleep. It wasn’t working at half a tablet at bedtime, so her doctor told her to try a full tablet. Of course, mirtazapine tends to cause more drowsiness at lower doses (not exactly intuitive, but an important detail), so this made it worse. I was able to recommend taking a quarter tablet instead, and this did the trick for the patient. This is exactly the type of counselling that is buried deep in resources (and is all but absent, even in the monograph) that you can find brightly highlighted in our counselling cue cards.  

What advice do you have for other pharmacy professionals who are considering embarking on their own entrepreneurial ventures?   

I honestly never thought I’d take my shot at entrepreneurship. You really aren’t taught that this is an option in pharmacy, and it’s very much outside the usual mold, especially if pharmacy ownership is not for you. I think if you have something that is play to you but is work for others and it solves an important problem, it’s worth taking your shot. At worst, you’ll learn some very valuable lessons and it could lead you down an unexpected path. Authors like Tim Ferriss, Chris Guillebeau, and Peter Attia were among many that nudged me down the path I now walk. 

Outside of work, how do you like to spend your free time? 

I spend most of my free time with my wife and three sons. I try to model certain philosophies for my sons like being someone that has wonder for the world, the value of patient discussions broaching important topics, and how to reduce suffering in this world. I am passionate about health and longevity; I exercise every single day. I spend my daily 100 minutes commuting to/from work listening to audiobooks and podcasts, as well as listening to music. I also play drums, acoustic guitar, and enjoy singing. I enjoy being in the outdoors, whether that’s hunting, fishing, or camping. 

About Sylvain Morin

Sylvain Morin is the Pharmacy Manager and Pharmacist of a rural community pharmacy just outside of Sudbury. A graduate from the University of Waterloo in 2018, Sylvain moved into his role as a Pharmacy Manager directly from pharmacy school. With his extensive community pharmacy experience, he has a passion for putting patient clinical issues first, delivering services in his first language (French), and making use of his full scope of practice. 

He is also the founder and CEO of Concise Curated Counselling. This new drug information resource focuses on cue cards to help Pharmacists counsel medications effectively and efficiently. 

Outside of his work, Sylvain is a dedicated father of three and thoroughly enjoys music and outdoor recreation.