By: Jeff Yurek, BScPhm

In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, Lemon’s Drug Store at 633 Talbot Street was the town’s trusted apothecary. Ed Yurek, pictured above, began as a Soda Jerk and then became a Pharmacist. Whatever his title, he wore many hats including shovelling the snow.

My Dad’s interest in pharmacy started when he became a jerk — a Soda Jerk. He started working at Lemon’s Drug Store in Downtown St. Thomas in his early teens and claimed they made the best milkshakes in town. Although that story was not the key factor in my decision to enter the pharmacy profession, to my eight-year-old self, it would have been a dream come true to be paid to make milkshakes. Dad apprenticed at Lemons, learning the art of compounding medicines and basic chemistry before heading to the University of Toronto to earn his Pharmacy Bachelors degree.

Times have changed since his graduation in 1952. The degree that pharmacists earn has transitioned to a Bachelor of Science Pharmacy to a recent change to a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD). With those changes in the degrees, the abilities of a pharmacist have also changed. No longer are pharmacists taking recipes from doctors and creating the medicine; they have become medication experts. Pharmacists review each prescription that they receive to ensure the person takes the right medication. In addition, pharmacists are able to extend prescriptions, adapt prescriptions and offer pharmaceutical opinions to physicians. During the pandemic, pharmacists were granted an expanded scope of practice to deliver covid vaccinations which has added to the number of vaccines pharmacists can provide. This coming year, pharmacists will be able to offer tests for diabetes and cholesterol and also prescribing for certain ailments.

While the abilities of pharmacists have increased over the past seven decades since my father became a “pharmaceutical chemist”, their role as a trusted and accessible medical professional has stayed the same. Get to know your pharmacist and see how they can help improve and maintain your health.