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Jaris Swidrovich Pharmacist + Health Care + Educator + Two-Spirit

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'Indigenizing Healthcare and Beyond'

CIHR funding recipient, National Pharmacy Leadership Award winner and named one of CBC Saskatchewan’s "Future 40", Dr. Jaris Swidrovich is Canada's first self-identified First Nations Doctor of Pharmacy. Professor, Mentor, and Community leader, Swidrovich brings his experience of bridging organizational needs with Health Care mandates. Jaris is a Two Spirit Champion passionate about health, education, and how Indigenous and marginalized people are impacted at all levels. He integrates personal stories to explain complex issues which resonate with listeners of all ages. His powerful presentations illustrate how we can all be part of the cure and partake in the TRC’s Calls to Action.

A member of Yellow Quill First Nation, Dr. Jaris Swidrovich’s maternal grandmother was a residential school survivor and his mother, a survivor of the '60s Scoop. After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy (BSP), and completing a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) from the University of Toronto in 2013, he is now studying to obtain his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).  

In his earlier years as a health professional, Jaris noticed the lack of representation of Indigenous people in health care and the inadequate education of health care workers on Indigenous history, health, and culture. Since then, he began dedicating his work as a clinical pharmacist and educator to bridging the gaps in understanding of Indigenous issues and reconciliation. Educating both staff and students about the importance of Indigenous perspective in health care, he has spoken at all 10 Schools of Pharmacy across Canada.

In March 2020, he played an integral role as part of the new Saskatchewan First Nations and Metis Health and Wellness Research team, to receive funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for the establishment of nine Indigenous health research centres across the country.  He was also the Principal Investigator for a Canadian Institute of Research Funding grant into “Two Spirit peoples’ experiences accessing and receiving care in community pharmacies”.

Dr. Swidrovich’s commitment to fighting against systemic issues in health literacy and practices has also landed him a role as Director on the board of Sanctum Care Group, where he advocates for non-prejudicial support of 2SLGBTQ+ and homeless populations who may be living with HIV/AIDS, mental illness, and poverty.

 

 

  • "Indigenization": Advancing Accessibility in Health Care and Education  

    Indigenous people in Canada are drastically overrepresented in virtually all disease states and illnesses for a variety of complex reasons. Improving both the health and education of Canada’s Indigenous peoples requires transformative action across a multitude of areas. Dr. Jaris Swidrovich will discuss strategies for all levels of health care and/or education, tailored to the particular audience.  

     In this session, audiences will: 

    • Identify how colleges, schools, and institutions may respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action  
    • Identify a multitude of opportunities to “Indigenize” the classroom (e.g., delivery, assessment, evaluation)  
    • Interpret how health care workers, health institutions, and health regions may address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action 

    Cultural Safety: Bringing Cultural Sensitivity to Health Care and Education  

    Much attention has been given to the education and promotion of cultural sensitivity and cultural competence, with little focus on newer and more transformative concepts and actions like cultural safety in both health care and education.  

     In this session, audiences will:  

    • Interpret and apply the differences between cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity, cultural competence, and cultural safety, with a focus on Indigenous people  
    • Learn about the history and health inequities experienced by Indigenous people in Canada 
    • Discover how to prevent racism, both systemic and personal, in health care and education 

    Removing Stigmas in Health: HIV/AIDS Awareness  

    HIV/AIDS is a growing epidemic in Canada with some provinces, like Saskatchewan, declaring a state of emergency in this area. There are some special considerations to be made when looking at the greater, social challenges of HIV and opportunistic infections, namely regarding those that are unique to Indigenous Canadians.  

     In this session, Dr. Jaris Swidrovich will discuss: 

    • Drug therapy for HIV/AIDS 
    • The social determinants of health in HIV/AIDS and other health conditions  
    • Challenges unique to Indigenous Canadians in diagnosing and treating HIV/AIDS 

    Mental Health and Substance Use: Effective Therapies from Indigenous Perspective

    It is said that 1 out of 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, with 5 out of 5 Canadians being affected by mental illness. Dr. Jaris Swidrovich uses his medical expertise to describe approaches to treating both acute and chronic manifestations of mental illness. Drawing on Indigenous realms of mental illness and substance use disorders, Dr. Jaris Swidrovich will give attention to the role and use of the medicine wheel, differentiating uses of tobacco and other sacred medicines.  

    In this session, audiences will learn about:  

    • Drug therapy for mental illness/substance use disorders 
    • Social determinants of health in mental illness and substance use disorders and other health conditions  
    • Challenges unique to Indigenous Canadians in diagnosing and treating mental illness/substance use disorders 
  • Awards/Highlights

    • National Pharmacy Leadership Award – Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy (June 2019)
    • National Patient Care Achievement Award – Canadian Pharmacists Association (June 2018)
    • Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada Janssen Award for Innovation in Education (Co-recipient; Medication Assessment Centre) (2016)
    • Appointed by Federal Minister of Health as one of thirteen members on the Safer Supply of Pharmaceutical Alternatives to Street Drugs Expert Advisory Group (Dec. 2019 – March 2021)
    • Appointed by Federal Minister of Health as one of eight members on the Canadian Pain Task Force (March 2019 – March 2022)
    • Creator and Chair of National Truth and Reconciliation Special Interest Group (TRC SIG) through the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada (AFPC) (December 2018t)
    • Nominated and appointed by CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority to sit on the Practitioner Staff Review Panel under the direction of the Chief Medical Officer (2018)
    • Member of Canadian Pharmacists Association Opioid Working Group (November 2018)
    • Canadian Pharmacists’ Association – Knowledge into Practice Advisory Circle Member – Western Provinces Representative (July 2017 )
    • Acknowledged for work in reconciliation and Indigenous pharmacy education by Member of Parliament Sheri Benson (Saskatoon West) (October 2017)
    • Elected President of Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists [CSHP] Saskatchewan Branch (2013 – 2016)
    • CBC Future 40 (2016)
    • Evan Hardy Collegiate Wall of Fame Inductee (2016)
  • Client List:

    • McGill Medicine Grand Rounds (Montreal, QC) - “Indigenous Health and Reconciliation in Health Care” - February 2020
    • Montreal Health Professionals Association (Montreal, QC) - “Indigenous Health and Reconciliation in Health Care” - February 2020
    • Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists Professional Practice Conference (Toronto, ON)
    • “10 ways to get started on Truth and Reconciliation in Hospital Pharmacy” - February 2020
    • College of Pharmacy, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba (Winnipeg, MB)
    • “Indigenization of Pharmacy Education and Practice” (Faculty Development Seminar) - February 2020
    • One Welfare Veterinary Initiative, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Sask. (Saskatoon, SK) - “Indigenous History, Health, and Cultural Safety for Veterinary Medicine Students” - January 2020
    • Internal Medicine Residents Academic Half-day, University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, SK)- “Indigenous Health and Reconciliation in Saskatchewan” - December 2019
    • Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Regional Nursing Workshop (Saskatoon, SK) - “Indigenous Health and Reconciliation in Nursing Practice - November 2019
    • Faculty Seminar, College of Pharmacy, University of Minnesota (Duluth, MN, USA) - “Making Space for Indigenous Methodologies and Research in Pharmacy” November 2019
    • CIHR Indigenous Gender & Wellness Idea Fair and Learning Circle (Montreal, QC) - “The Impacts of Gender for Pregnant Women Living with HIV in Saskatoon” - June 2019
    • Canadian Pharmacy Education and Research Conference (Edmonton, AB) - “Reconciling How We Teach (and Practice) Evidence-based Medicine” - June 2019
    • Canadian Pharmacy Education and Research Conference (Edmonton, AB) - “Indigenization in Canadian Pharmacy Programs: Current State” “Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Pharmacy Education: A Resource Guide” - June 2019
    • National PharmaChoice Trade Show & Conference (Calgary, AB) - “Indigenous Health and Reconciliation in Pharmacy” - May 2019
    • Keynote Speaker - BC Health Regulators and BC First Nations Health Authority Symposium (Vancouver, BC) “Indigenous Health and Reconciliation for Health Regulators” - May 2019
    • Keynote Speaker - Yellow Quill First Nation Career Fair (Yellow Quill First Nation, SK) - “Staying in School and Opportunities after High School” - May 2019

     

A member of Yellow Quill First Nation, Dr. Jaris Swidrovich’s maternal grandmother was a residential school survivor and his mother, a survivor of the '60s Scoop. After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy (BSP), and completing a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) from the University of Toronto in 2013, he is now studying to obtain his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).  

In his earlier years as a health professional, Jaris noticed the lack of representation of Indigenous people in health care and the inadequate education of health care workers on Indigenous history, health, and culture. Since then, he began dedicating his work as a clinical pharmacist and educator to bridging the gaps in understanding of Indigenous issues and reconciliation. Educating both staff and students about the importance of Indigenous perspective in health care, he has spoken at all 10 Schools of Pharmacy across Canada.

In March 2020, he played an integral role as part of the new Saskatchewan First Nations and Metis Health and Wellness Research team, to receive funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for the establishment of nine Indigenous health research centres across the country.  He was also the Principal Investigator for a Canadian Institute of Research Funding grant into “Two Spirit peoples’ experiences accessing and receiving care in community pharmacies”.

Dr. Swidrovich’s commitment to fighting against systemic issues in health literacy and practices has also landed him a role as Director on the board of Sanctum Care Group, where he advocates for non-prejudicial support of 2SLGBTQ+ and homeless populations who may be living with HIV/AIDS, mental illness, and poverty.

 

 

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