Q&A with Tom Kontio, 9T3 alumni

Tom Kontio, Class of 9T3

Tom Kontio is a primary care pharmacist with the Thames Valley Family Health Team in London, Ontario. Tom was the first pharmacist to work with the Thames Valley Family Health and now collaborates with seven other pharmacists to resolve medication issues for over 100,000 patients. He also works one day a week in community pharmacy at Huron Heights Pharmasave.

Through his clinical work, continued advocacy for pharmacists’ expanded scope of practice, and as a monthly donor to the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, Tom contributes to the growth of the profession and its positive impact on patients at the local and provincial level.

What motivated you to become a monthly donor?

I was so fortunate to have had the chance to go to the University of Toronto (U of T) that I wanted to ensure its pharmacy programs are there for future students. It takes money to drive research and excellence in programming.  With that in place, U of T can attract the best and the brightest and keep at the forefront on many areas of study.

Being a pharmacist has given me so much, I just wanted to say thank you in a tangible way.

You also give back by being your Class of 9T3 President – what does that entail?

Each graduating class selects a handful of people to head up future class functions like reunions and other activities. I head up the group as Lifelong President but really it is the core group of three (including Nayan Patel and Anil Janmohamed) that have organized the last couple of reunions.

We have regular reunions at many different locations, often family friendly resorts around the province. It’s a great time to get together and catch up and remember the fun we had at U of T.

I am saddened to hear that some classes do not do this, but I think it speaks to the great group we have as our 9T3 lifelong council. We have had involvement from the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy alumni association for our last 3 reunions and this has been great to keep us abreast of what is new at U of T.

How many reunions has your class had since graduating?

We have a reunion every 5 years, and just celebrated our 25th in Niagara on the Lake. The plan is to have them every 5 years till I croak!

What is the most valuable thing you learned or experienced while completing your Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree at the Faculty?

We are a community of practitioners that work hard to provide quality care to our patients. Being part of a great university like U of T means that we are exposed to the best teaching, most advanced methods and a very progressive group overall.  I always enjoy seeing alum in influential positions in the profession.

Your contributions to the profession of pharmacy were also recognized in 2013 when you were named the Pharmacist of the Year by the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association (OPA), Can you describe how you have impacted the community in London, ON?

I was very honored to receive this distinction from the OPA, given the very active profession that we have in Ontario.

Locally, I headed up our grassroots organization, the London and District Pharmacists Association for a number of years and have actively taken students on rotation for the last 20 years. I was also one of the first primary care pharmacists to work with a family health team in the London area. I participate in the PEBC exams whenever I can and am also active in my church community.  I teach skiing for able bodied and disabled skiers as well. I do a lot of professional speaking on a number of subjects and I am now on the Ontario College of Pharmacists’ Council as one of the representatives from the southwest region.

What career advice would you give to recently-graduated pharmacists?

Get out there and promote the profession any chance you get. Find your local association and help promote the profession through your local initiatives. Try different roles and consider public speaking. Pharmacy and what we do as pharmacists is often the best kept secret in healthcare. It’s ok to ‘toot your professional horn’…..if we don’t, Who will?