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Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association
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PAM 2016: Changing roles help pharmacists do more for patients

By Carlo Berardi, Chair, Canadian Pharmacists Association

The health of Canadians depends partly on the health of the professions serving them. Today’s pharmacists are taking on more roles than ever, to deliver timely, safe and cost-effective care.

Each March, Pharmacist Awareness Month (PAM) is a key opportunity to celebrate the great strides our profession has made and help educate our patients and all Canadians about the contributions pharmacists are making in the delivery of health care in this country.

It is important to celebrate progress – to pause and reflect on where the profession is today compared to ten years ago. From renewing prescriptions, delivering vaccinations, providing medication management services and prescribing for minor ailments and conditions – the profession has truly come a long way.

Pharmacists scope of practice 2005 vs. 2016.

Pharmacies have become highly accessible community health hubs with innovative services, including a growing range of wellness programs and chronic disease management services. While the scope authorized to pharmacists varies by jurisdiction, the trend is clear – increasingly, governments and Canadians see the value we bring to a sustainable health care system.

Practice always changes. What doesn’t is the pharmacist’s ability to dispense both medications and advice, and continually do more for patients and colleagues.

Canadians embracing expanded role of pharmacists

Pharmacists are consistently ranked by Canadians as one of the most trusted professions. According to a new national survey by Abacus Data released for Pharmacist Awareness Month, 95% of Canadians have a positive impression of pharmacists and more than 90% say pharmacists have a key role in the health care system. Two-thirds of Canadians surveyed put pharmacists in their top three most important sources of information when it comes to not only new drugs but health care in general.  

What stands out from this year’s survey compared to a similar survey conducted last year is that Canadians are increasingly familiar with the services pharmacists can provide. More Canadians realize that pharmacists can give a flu shot (up 4 points to 88%), prescribe for minor conditions (up 4 points to 63%), administer other vaccines (up 5 points to 61%), make a therapeutic substitution (up 11 points to 53%), or adapt prescriptions (up 6 points to 45%).

Clearly Canadians are responding positively to the increasing role of pharmacists, as we are seeing more and more of them looking toward their pharmacist for health care services and advice. This is a testament to the professional, high-quality care pharmacists are providing and our trusted reputation among Canadians.

Canadians are recognizing the advantages of expanded scope.  Just over 4 in 5 Canadians, 81%, say allowing pharmacists to do more for patients will improve health outcomes. An even bigger number, 83%, say that letting pharmacists do more will reduce health care costs.

We collaborate with patients, their families and other health care providers to benefit the health of Canadians and, as the profession and evidence has shown, are capable of doing more for our patients.

Looking forward

Pharmacist Awareness Month is a great opportunity to reflect on the role of the profession, celebrate what we have accomplished, and look forward to where we are going.

Take this opportunity to embrace the professions’ expanding scope. Promote your role to your patients, incorporate new services into your daily practice, talk to your patients to let them know about the support you provide or take a continuing professional development program to help meet new opportunities and the growing needs and expectations of your patients.

With pharmacists able to do more for the public, CPhA and your provincial pharmacy associations are also doing more to support the profession, embrace and leverage expanded scope and equip you for the future.