As Value Drug Mart’s former manager of pharmacy services and professional affairs, Jody Shkrobot was responsible for providing assistance to the company’s 50 independent pharmacies, based primarily in Alberta. “I assisted with everything from clinical services development to operations to CPD to implementation of new processes,” says Shkrobot. “It is a small company, so I wore a lot of hats, but my focus was firmly on pharmacy practice and the dispensary.”
Education: University of Alberta (Pharmacy)
Current role: Pharmacy Consultant / Pharmacist-Owner
When you graduated what did you envision your future in pharmacy would look like?
I wasn’t really thrilled with pharmacy practice, to be honest. I knew pharmacists could do a lot more than we were able to do then. I saw patients falling through the cracks. We weren’t inducing the right behaviours and attitudes, so I went in-house to help do this. There were new frustrations, certainly, but also new opportunities. Since then we have witnessed dramatic change. Different generations are working side by side, and they have different mindsets. It can be difficult finding common ground. A cookie-cutter approach to moving forward will not work. I’ve tried to find leaders in the independent pharmacy sector and work with them to create lasting change.
What has been your greatest challenge as a leader in the pharmacy sector?
My greatest challenge has been to get pharmacists to think of themselves in terms of the value they bring to the system. We need individual, grassroots pharmacists to step up. There is so much more we can do for patients. Our engagement as a profession ebbs and flows. There was definite groundswell recently, but it is tiring work. We need an advocacy strategy that is long-term. Pharmacists need to be informed and know what is being said. Then they need to speak up.
What do you think will be the biggest opportunities for pharmacy in the next decade?
There is a lot of potential for our profession. We haven’t even come close to tapping into what we can do with the new scope of practice. First, we need to identify the barriers and address them. Ideas are one thing, but the system needs to be ready for fully contributing pharmacists. We also need to ensure there are support resources. Pharmacists need to step further into their new role, but there is a shortage of technicians, especially in small communities.
What would you tell new graduates about the importance of advocacy?
Students are taking an oath as pharmacists, and part of that is being advocates for their patients. We need to remember that you can’t just sit there and say, “Oh, that’s the way it is.” Very few people know what happens in pharmacy. We need to get that message out, especially to the people who pay the bills. If we don’t speak up, who will?
What can pharmacists do to become more accomplished leaders?
Get out there and do something. You will make mistakes along the way, but as a profession we need to break down walls. We need a common message and people to deliver that message. We need to be ahead of the curve.