Continuing education is key for wellness-focused community pharmacist

For real wellness, prevention is truly the best medicine

Gerry Poon’s title at the Esquimalt Pharmasave might be “pharmacist,” but that’s just a fraction of what he does.

And that’s just the way he likes it.

For Poon, graduating from UBC’s pharmacy program in 1989 wasn’t the end of his education, but the beginning.

The son of two doctors, Poon is a firm believer in continued education in his quest to share the goal of wellness with the community. He has since become a clinical nutritionist, and board-certified in homeopathic medicine and functional medicine. Most recently, he has embarked on a two-year program to become a certified cancer specialist, an opportunity to support health to prevent cancer or mitigate its effects.

As a pharmacist on the front line of medicine, Poon continues to dispense pharmaceuticals to address his patients’ symptoms, but “I always look at other available modalities that could help with their health,” he says. “My ultimate goal is getting them healthy.”

Understanding the cause to address the symptoms

Patients typically see their pharmacist first when they are unwell – they need medicine to alleviate a headache, for example. But for Poon, that’s the first step; the real question is what’s causing the headache.

“We feel symptoms – it’s the way your body tells you something is wrong. But if you don’t address underlying conditions, your symptoms will return even worse.”

With this goal in mind, consultations are a significant part of Poon’s approach. Calling on his diverse education and professional experience, he can explore both these root causes of health challenges, and ensure natural treatments don’t conflict with pharmaceutical ones.

The wellness goal

Poon understands these issues at both a professional and personal level. When a diabetes diagnosis refocused his efforts on the importance of those lifestyle factors, he embraced his passion for healthy, flavourful food and activity as he worked to reverse the condition and eliminate medications.

While you can’t change your genes, you can offer them a healthy environment – healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices, he explains. “Everything we do – what we eat, how you live, how you interact with people – it all affects you.”

Metabolic issues are the No. 1 concern Poon sees and underscore the importance of good gut health, where issues are signalled by symptoms like bloating, gas and discomfort.

His functional medicine background is particularly focused on anti-aging at the cellular level, and finding ways to keep hormones in balance – the hormonal symphony, he likes to say – to keep cells resilient to the rigours of the time.

With his breadth of knowledge, it’s not surprising that clients come from across the region and further afield. “I also host community talks to try to improve health and well-being in the community,” he adds, noting those efforts are worth it. Not only is prevention easier and cheaper, but it’s far easier on the individual in the long term.

“I want to help them achieve the health they are looking for.”

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