University of the Fraser Valley

Judith Soon awarded honorary degree for promoting science education and changes in geriatric systems

Judith Soon awarded honorary degree for promoting science education and changes in geriatric systems

Sometimes it takes one defining moment to change life’s trajectory. For Dr. Judith Soon, it was in Grade 12 when she and four other classmates toured the inner workings of a pharmacy building. 

From this experience, Soon knew she wanted to pursue a career in pharmacy and so far, it has been extremely rewarding for her. She is especially proud of developing and maintaining a province-wide clinical pharmacy program for long-term care facilities, helping to establish the Fraser Valley Regional Science Fair (FVRSF), and being actively involved with Canada-Wide Science Fairs as a member of the National Judging Committee. 

In recognition of her dedication to science, research, and development of pharmaceutical teaching and programs, Soon received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of the Fraser Valley at its June 14 morning convocation ceremony. 

“It really means a lot to me to receive this honour,” she said. When asked about her role in her achievements, Soon thought of herself more as a support person. She explained, “If I see a problem that needs solving, a system that’s not working, or something that needs to be developed or modified, I’ll get some colleagues together and work on changing the system. I’ve tried to stay in the background, so things work smoother and become well-developed.” 

It was this unassuming and patient-focused attitude that Soon brought with her when she first moved to the Fraser Valley and noticed a problem within long-term care facilities. 

The experience was personal for her as she recalled, “I had wonderful grandparents and I noticed they had multiple prescriptions to address their health issues. I felt for them with their multiple medications, which inevitably, started to affect my grandparents in negative ways.” 

From her experience both with her grandparents and her work, she went out to discover that prescriptions for the aging population were not straightforward at the time. 

Soon explained how every patient that came into a nursing home had a different pharmacy. 

 “A 100-bed nursing home had maybe 30 different pharmacies all bringing their prescription vials and deliveries to the nursing station,” she said. “This significantly increased the workload for the nurses.” 

This spurred her to gather her colleagues with the same mindset and create the first consultant clinical pharmacy group in the province, which would then go on to manage medications for 55 long-term care facilities in the province. 

Dr. Judith Soon, recipient of the University of the Fraser Valley's Honorary Doctor of Laws“One pharmacy could manage all the medications for one nursing home,” she stated. This change reduced the prescription count per patient, as Soon pointed out in her published articles, and decreased the negative side effects patients experienced. 

Her impact on the Fraser Valley community was not limited to a specific demographic: in 1992, Soon signed up for the first time to judge at the Fraser Valley Regional Science Fair (FVRSF). She then became the chief judge in 1995, collaborating with elementary school teacher Pat Tracey, who was a vibrant and integral part of the development of the FVRSF for over 30 years. 

Since that time, Soon became chief judge at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in 2005 and has even been invited to international science fairs in Taiwan, Ireland, and Siberia to judge and coordinate the setup of new science fairs. 

Recently retired from her position as an associate professor of pharmacy at UBC, Soon is actively involved in the Canada-Wide Science Fair, helping coordinate and judge 340 science and technology projects in Edmonton this year from across the country.