Reflections and lessons learned in 2022
This has easily been one of the most eventful years of my life, both personally and professionally. My role as CPO has strengthened my understanding and deepened my appreciation of and admiration for the pharmacy profession.
When I started this journey, my mission was to unify, engage, collaborate, innovate and promote inclusion and diversity. I’m happy to report that as an association, CPhA has made considerable progress on all fronts. From our in-person Pharmacy Rising conference in June, to our virtual events, pharmacists are connecting with us and contributing to our advancement as a profession.
For me, this last year has been one filled with learning, growth and recalibration. I’ve had many opportunities to witness first-hand the complex interplay between the Canadian health-care system and the politics that govern it, and to seize numerous opportunities to advocate for our profession and where pharmacists are most needed.
This experience has shaped me as a leader. It has informed and shifted my thoughts and I now have new depth in my perspective on some of our biggest challenges. What has remained constant, however, is my passion and commitment to the vision we set out to realize. Over the last year, I’ve had many open, honest discussions about what needs to change in pharmacy, and I’m encouraged that we’re making our way towards stronger alignment about what strategies will get us there.
What we’ve accomplished
Our identity and profile as pharmacists have never been stronger. Throughout this year we’ve seen the addition of new authorities and new funding for pharmacy services, further illustrating that governments are looking to align health-care delivery models with patient needs and expectations. From coast-to-coast, we’ve witnessed pharmacists empowered to practice to their full scope, serving their patients with fewer barriers.
Most notably we’ve seen the pan-Canadian evolution of pharmacists as prescribers, and not just for prescription renewals and common ailments, but for new starts of complex medications like Paxlovid, further showcasing the value of our expertise in medication management.
To illustrate the impact we had, I want to share some numbers. In Quebec, before pharmacists could prescribe Paxlovid, just over 500 prescriptions had been made. After March 31, 2022, once pharmacists were authorized to prescribe, we saw a sharp increase in utilization of this drug. In fact, there have been approximately 17,000 assessments done by pharmacists for Paxlovid in the province to date, approximately 12,000 of which have resulted in prescriptions. This means that almost 65% of all Paxlovid prescriptions in the Quebec were initiated by pharmacists.
These numbers speak volumes about the ability of pharmacists to enable access to life-saving medications to our communities’ most vulnerable and to alleviate the strain on our hospital systems. These assessments also illustrate 17,000 pharmacist interactions with patients who, as a result, got to see the wealth of knowledge their pharmacist has and, hopefully, established the foundation for a relationship with them as a health-care provider.
The contributions pharmacy teams have made to our health-care system in 2022 are remarkable. That’s why it’s so fitting that the recognition of Canadian Pharmacist of the Year went to each one of you. As highly trained, knowledgeable health-care experts and skilled patient educators, pharmacists have become dedicated public health stewards and continue to fill many health-care gaps. Not surprisingly, we are seeing growing awareness and enthusiasm from patients to access care at their pharmacies. Each new provincial announcement is a step closer to realizing our dream of a harmonized scope across the country.
Along with the increased demand for primary-care services at local pharmacies, comes the added pressures pharmacy teams face to meet those demands. Like other health-care workers, many of us are over capacity and at high risk of burn out, which is why wellness remains a high priority for us at CPhA. We will continue to advocate for more resources and action to support and sustain our workforce. We know we still have a long way to go on the wellness front, but we’re increasing our engagement with pharmacy professionals across Canada, working with you to build a growing team of change agents to help ensure we’re on the right track.
What I’ve learned
I’m a firm believer in life-long learning, and this year, I’ve learned a lot:
About the profession
- Our field is filled with creative, bold, brilliant professionals looking for ways to contribute to health care in meaningful ways.
- No one person has all the answers—solutions to some of pharmacy’s biggest problems are going to be trial and error and there are members of our community actively working to address and solve them.
- Pharmacy is a mosaic of talented, passionate individuals who each bring their unique gifts, perspectives, experiences to our profession. Diversity is our strength.
- We need more pharmacy professionals from underrepresented groups to be involved in shaping our future. This will take conscious effort—systemic barriers are ever-present and real.
- I’ve spent the last year doing a great deal of listening. I’ve tried to approach my role with humility, an open mind and an insatiable curiosity about what’s possible and who can help us get there.
- I will continue to open doors and create opportunities for pharmacists to share their thoughts and ideas with me and the team at CPhA. I will look for more ways to amplify your voices and give you a platform.
- Collaboration is key to effective leadership. Among colleagues. Across associations. Between professions. At the end of the day, as health professionals, our goal is always to provide excellent patient care. Working together is the only way to continue to improve our systems and ensure that Canadians can access the best possible health care, whatever their needs and wherever they live.
- I will strive to live my principles of self-compassion—knowing that I am only one person and that it would be impossible for me to live up to everyone’s expectations.
- I’ve learned to manage my own expectations of myself—to prioritize all the things I’d like to accomplish, but to also not be upset if my timelines need to be adjusted.
- It takes work to practice what I preach, especially when it comes to my personal wellness. Being a mother, a wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter and friend are part of my identity as well, and I am continuously seeking work-life harmony.
What can we expect in 2023
As we look toward the future, I’m predicting more recognition, appreciation and space carved for pharmacy professionals in leadership roles within our health-care systems.
I am also hoping to see more unity and collaboration between pharmacy stakeholders. We have seen the power of associations and regulatory bodies coming together. We’ve seen what happens when we work constructively with governments to tackle our most pressing health-care challenges. The work we’ve been doing with stakeholders and the dialogue we’ve had with partners around drug shortages is a good example—we need more of this. The supply issues we faced this fall have provided a case for us to challenge the way the long-standing pharmacy issue of drug shortages is managed in Canada. This is becoming a federal priority and we are here for it.
Lastly, we look forward to seeing expanded prescribing authority in British Columbia, Ontario and the Yukon in the new year and all the good news this brings to patients who are looking for access to primary care.
I’ve concluded that the profession of pharmacy is very good at making lemonade from lemons. We took the pressures thrust upon us during the pandemic and we turned them into professional advancement. Given our track record of meeting challenges with triumph, I look forward to seeing the new heights we’ll soar to in 2023.
I’d like to express my sincere thanks to all those who have connected with me in person at conferences, via email and/or have engaged with me on our social media platforms. Your comments, DMs, words of encouragement, criticism, shared experiences and intelligence from the field have been instrumental in my work at CPhA.
The support I’ve felt and the stories you’ve shared have carried me through the toughest days and I am ever-so-grateful. I know there are thousands of pharmacists out there who care about this profession and whose perspective would serve us well at CPhA. There are many who are interested in getting involved and many whom I have yet to meet. If you are reading this and have a desire to connect with me or the association, consider this an invitation to please reach out. I am genuinely interested in hearing from you and will continue to make time to meet with front-line professionals.
If you have any thoughts or ideas on how CPhA can do better, please let us know. We are committed to becoming the association that brings the world of pharmacy together and we are always open to constructive feedback.
For 2023, may you be happy and healthy and ride the waves of life with ease.