I am the I in IWK – Theresa Tilbury

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“I first started working at the Grace Maternity Hospital in 1986 as a ward aide,” Theresa Tilbury says. “A neighbour of mine was working at the Grace and she recommended I apply because she loved working there. She described it as working with family, and it was.”

Tilbury, a pharmacy practice assistant at IWK Health, began her career in pharmacy at the Grace in the Pharmacy Department on a temporary basis in January 1990, until they created an official position a few months later. In 1992, the Grace amalgamated with the IWK and she began her position with the IWK proper.

“This was a big change with double the staff, but I enjoyed the challenge and expanding my pharmacy family,” says Tilbury.

As a pharmacy practice assistant, Tilbury delivers inventory and replenishes pharmaceutical supplies to all of the different departments. She also maintains up-to-date stock and retrieves expired supplies prior to their end-date. Both roles are critical to safe and quality care.

“There have been a number of urgent requests I have filled over the years, but one stands out: about three years ago we received a call from the pediatric operating room for a stat medication for a patient in surgery,” Tilbury says. “I moved super, extra-fast that day. I didn’t even wait for the elevator; I ran it upstairs!”

Tilbury says she has learned so much on the job over the years, including how to adapt to the increased of the use of technology.

“We used to receive urgent orders by fax but with the Pyxis system [an automated medication dispensing system], we now receive an alert immediately,” says Tilbury. “I’m curious to see where technology takes us even five years from now.”

Tilbury is highly motivated and energetic person by nature and says she really values her contribution to the care of the children and women at the IWK. “I take a lot of pride in all of my work.”

Her pride and commitment to the team were on full display when winter storm ‘White Juan’ hit Nova Scotia in 2004, and she and another colleague, Anne Landry, were the only pharmacy assistants, along with three pharmacists, that made it in to work.

Tilbury will be retiring in early 2022.

“I lost my husband in 2019, and my pharmacy family was so, so supportive being there for me,” Tilbury says. “Until the day I retire, I look forward to working side by side with them every day.”