Change is not easy for many people, which is why our mandate at the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy (CFP) is as much about extolling leadership as it is about funding research to advance the profession of pharmacy.
By Dayle Acorn
A particular type of leadership is especially important today, and which CFP strives to put front and centre in our annual Changing Face of Pharmacy report.
This type of leadership is not about being the boss, or heading volunteer committees (though these roles are also important). It’s about leadership that occurs at the grassroots, among pharmacists who take new steps and risk failure and adapt, and in so doing serve as role models for their peers. The pharmacists profiled in this year’s report demonstrate that even small steps can lead to big results. Their predominant message is simple: If I can do it, you can, too.
Such individual leadership strikes at the heart of widespread change. Research on change management shows time and again that 10 to 20 per cent of any given population readily embraces change and, at the other end of the scale, about the same always refuses change. The goal therefore is to instill the desire for change among enough of those remaining in the middle. The sharing of success stories can be an important part of that, always keeping in mind that we cannot rely on just a few to carry a profession forward.
The Changing Face of Pharmacy report this year focuses on interprofessional collaboration, and profiles community pharmacists who are working better with physicians in smoking cessation, diabetes management and point-of-care testing. In all cases (and I would bet in any other area of specialization), both the pharmacists and the doctors herald the mutual benefits of healthier, happier patients, more efficient workflows and greater professional fulfillment. The pharmacists interviewed also emphasize that greater collaboration is not only part and parcel of expanded services — it is also a catalyst and enabler. Referrals confer instant credibility in the eyes of patients, and as the results come to speak for themselves, physicians and other healthcare providers will seek you out, and additional opportunities often emerge.
The profiled pharmacists don’t deny that the first steps can be the hardest. That’s why you’ll find a summary of their lessons learned, as well as tips from physicians, in order to lay the foundation for collaboration. Interestingly, all the typical, tangible barriers — to do with time, technology and proximity — appear to melt away once trust is established. You’ll find practical ways to build trust, backed by recent research that also shows pharmacists’ misconceptions of physicians may be sabotaging relationships before they even start.
Last but not least, I invite you to check out CFP’s Changing Face of Pharmacy report for its annual chart of services possible under expanded scopes of practice, complete with claims data from provincial ministries of health. Could the numbers be better? Probably. But as the articles in the report also demonstrate, perhaps pharmacists have been trying to do too much on their own. Physicians and other healthcare providers can be your best allies, and it starts by reaching out to just one. That’s a step toward leadership that we at the CFP hope — and believe — every community pharmacist can take.
Dayle Acorn is Executive Director of the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy (www.cfpnet.ca), a registered charity dedicated to supporting innovation and leadership to advance the profession of pharmacy.