Nathalie Plante’s role with Jean Coutu is expansive. She oversees laboratory operations, professional development and pharmacy technician training. She is also in charge of the team that defines the vision and the development of the company’s in-house software in collaboration with the IT department. Finally, she collaborates in the development of the health component of the website and various health marketing initiatives. “I juggle many different responsibilities,” says Plante. “It’s one of the things I love most about the job.”
Education: University of Montreal (Pharmacy)
Current role: Assistant Vice President Pharmacy, The Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc., Montreal
Why did you want to be a pharmacist? Has the profession lived up to your expectations?
I wanted to help people, and I still do. My uncle was a community pharmacist and also worked in a hospital. I heard about pharmacy through him, and I saw how much he loved the profession.
Being a pharmacist is extremely satisfying. On the frontlines, we affect people’s health every day. In management, I still do this. In fact, I can help pharmacists reach thousands of patients. It’s a multiplier effect.
What has given you the most satisfaction as a pharmacy professional?
Having the opportunity to be a part of the evolution of the practice is very important to me. In my job, I talk with pharmacists about their ideas and their concerns. It’s very inspiring, and I incorporate their feedback into my job. So much has already changed, and we’ve adapted. We’re far away from where we were 25 years ago.
Pharmacy is also about teamwork. If one physician follows five patients, five pharmacists will follow one patient. That means we must effectively document and easily access information. This is a huge challenge. To address this, I met with pharmacists and we developed the 3Q method. Now our pharmacists ask and record the answers to three questions: What is the situation? What did I do? and What are the next steps to take? We tested this approach in about 30 pharmacies, and it was so successful the process has become part of our in-house software, which now prompts pharmacists for this information. Only this year, more than 450 000 interventions were documented by pharmacists. Helping pharmacists – and patients – in this way has given me great satisfaction.
Is giving back to the profession important to you? How do you do this?
Giving back is part of who we are as a profession. This is what my company is all about. It is our core business. If we aren’t strong, patients will suffer. If the profession isn’t strong, the business will suffer.
On a personal level, simply doing my job well helps the profession, but giving back is so much more than this. We have to be near people who are working in pharmacy every day to understand the challenges they face and to understand what patients need from us.
How important is advocacy for you and your company? Are you building a culture of advocacy among employees?
Advocacy is inherent in our mission and our values. It leads to better patient care. Pharmacists need to be involved. I teach pharmacy operations and procedures at Laval University, and I stress to students that in order to be able to provide great patient care, they have first to be operationnaly solid.
If you could do anything other than pharmacy, what would it be?
I really can’t see myself doing anything else. I love what I’m doing. I’m in the right place.