Pharmacy U

Pharmacists at Pharmacy U Toronto raise their game

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More than 400 delegates congregated at the sold-out fourth annual Pharmacy U conference in Toronto recently to learn from some of the industry’s leading experts how to improve their clinical and business practices and raise the level of care for their patients.

By Talbot Boggs

“It was an amazing opportunity to learn about some of the many business aspects of running a pharmacy and to network with others in the profession,” said Ryan Fullerton, owner of Brown’s Guardian Pharmacy in Walkerton, ON. “It really helps to keep you on your toes and prepares you for many of the changes that are impacting the industry.”

This year’s conference offered a wide selection of 18 technical and business-related, CE-credited presentations, workshops and panel discussions designed to give participants knowledge and advice they can introduce into their practices.

Among them were sessions on ways pharmacies can integrate MedsChecks for diabetes into a broader diabetes management strategy, ways to overcome barriers to injectable diabetes therapies, approaches to improve the life of men suffering from testosterone deficiency syndrome (TDS), and ways to address the burden of herpes zoster (shingles).

A number of new business opportunities are presenting themselves to pharmacists today. Among them is travel health. Canadians take millions of international trips each year, yet many are unaware aware of the health risks associated with travelling abroad. Improving medication adherence is another growth opportunity. There are strategies pharmacists can implement to help them recover the estimated $12.5 billion lost in sales from medication non-adherence each year.

Running a successful pharmacy today involves a lot more than merely dispensing medications. This year’s conference explored strategies pharmacists can use to maximize their existing scope of practice and prepare for the next expansion into services.

Current pharmacy operation also involves leadership, management, technology and time-management skills. Attendees were treated to thought-provoking presentations on pharmacy leadership secrets, ways to approach and handle difficult discussions with staff to solve issues and minimize relationship damage, learning to optimize time management in a digital world, and ways to service the healthcare needs of patients in remote areas via the growing practice of telepharmacy.

“I really enjoyed the educational aspects of the conference from both the medical as well as the management perspective,” said first-time attendee Roya Askarian-Monavvari, owner of Roya Boutique Pharmacy in Toronto. “I particularly enjoyed the session on herpes zoster. My patients will be able to directly benefit from my knowledge once we receive authority to give those injections. I would definitely come to this conference again.”

Knowledge gained

“The CE credits are important and nice to get, but for me the real benefit of this conference is the knowledge you get about business and technology that you can then start applying in your pharmacy.”

– Fahd Bahrani, owner and pharmacist, Village Pharmacy, Toronto.

“I really came here to learn about the business side of running a pharmacy. You don’t learn a lot about that in school. It’s also a great opportunity to meet other pharmacists/owners and bounce ideas off them.”

– Aaron Boggio, pharmacist and owner of several pharmacies in Ontario’s Niagara Region.

“This is a great opportunity for me to meet people in the profession, talk to them and see the challenges they have. You get a real sense of the real life, practical side of pharmacy. It’s helpful to know the kinds of things you’ll likely face when you get out of school and into the business.”

– Subin Kim, pharmacy student, University of Waterloo.

“The credits are nice to put on your learning portfolio. I was particularly interested in learning about how to bring up and rectify difficult situations, key tips for owning a pharmacy, how to prepare a business plan and choosing advisers to help. These are really practical things to know.”

– Brijesh Patek, owner, Charolais I.D.A. Pharmacy, Brampton.

“I always get a couple of tips on things I can do to improve the culture in our pharmacy to show our staff and patients that we care. The pharmacy check-up session had some good points on things we should always be looking for in the pharmacy and making sure that my business and financial forecasts are reasonable. I’ll keep coming as long you put them on.”

– Ryan Fullerton, owner Brown’s Guardian Pharmacy, Walkerton, ON.