Black history month is always a reflective month for me. As a Black British Nigerian I had hidden in the background for far too long and had often been told to take a back seat because of my race. I have had diverse discriminative statements made towards me - ‘Your surname is too hard to pronounce, change the name on your resume’; ‘your hair is styled in an unprofessional manner’; ‘stop using your hands to talk, it makes us feel intimidated’.
My name is Mary Adegboyega, I am a proud Black British Nigerian Pharmacist, currently practicing in Ontario, Canada. After graduating from the University of Sunderland’s Pharmacy school in 2013; I decided that I’ll practice in the UK as a Hospital Pharmacist for a few years and then explore practice within North America, to see what life was like on the other side of the Atlantic. After finishing my pre-registration year, I completed my Junior Pharmacist rotational training across NHS hospitals in South East England and worked as a locum Pharmacist to keep up my community pharmacy skills. In 2016 I started working on my Clinical diploma and decided it was time to start my licensure journey as a North American pharmacist. After some research I came to the conclusion that Canada seemed to be the best fit for my personal goals.
Moving to Canada
I started my Canadian licensure exams in January 2017, whilst also working full-time as a Pharmacist in the UK and studying for my Clinical diploma. It was exhausting and extremely time consuming, but I had a goal in mind. After passing all my exams and completing necessary documentation, I became a fully licensed Canadian Pharmacist.
Since moving to Canada I have grown in diverse ways. I have challenged myself to go above my comfort level to see how far I can go. Along with the challenges of a new environment, I also had to overcome many hurdles and boundaries that were in place because of the color of my skin. This however, did not stop me from going after the things I was passionate about. As a Black Pharmacist I have continued to bring value to my community and stand out despite the opposition. As a Mental Health Pharmacist who comes across many black patients, I frequently encourage these individuals to continue seeking help and support for the different levels of trauma they may have experienced. I often challenge other Black professionals to take those ‘scary’ steps into the spaces that we are repeatedly told are not for us because of our race.
Why Black History Month matters
Black History Month is also an opportunity for me, as a Pharmacist to highlight medical conditions that affect the black community and educate my patients on how to better manage these conditions e.g. Hypertension. I want to remind other Black nationals to continue to be proud of the color of their skin. Black is beautiful! Black is strong! And Black is significant!
We want to encourage voices that express the diversity of lived experiences in the profession as part of our inclusion and diversity work. If you’d like to share your story, contact [email protected] or get involved through our ABCD group.