The mission of the AQPP is to study, defend and develop the economic, social and professional interests of its members, the pharmacist-owners; to negotiate and sign collective agreements, represent members in dealing with industry stakeholders, and communicate with various levels of government and the general public.
Photo by Brandon Gray
The ultimate goal is to make a real contribution to the well-being of patients and that of the population. To this end, says Executive Vice President and General Manager Jean Bourcier, “My role involves engaging with various stakeholders in the health sector, the government and the general public, as well as members, to meet this goal.”
Education: Laval University (Bachelor of Science, Pharmacy)
Laval University (Masters of Business Administration)
Current role: Executive Vice President and General Manager, Association québécoise des pharmaciens propriétaires (AQPP), Montreal
How would you describe to pharmacy students what it is you do?
As the general manager, I am in charge of the AQPP, a professional union of more than 2,000 pharmacist-owners and nearly 1,900 pharmacies. We have agreements in place with governments (provincial and federal) and third-party payers. Part of my role is to oversee communications with the media, but I am also a lobbyist. People are surprised to know I have been trained in public relations and to be an equally effective negotiator. These are big roles here at AQPP.
As a leader in pharmacy, what continues to drive you?
When I started my career, there were too many pharmacists in the market and not enough jobs. So I got my MBA and was recruited by a bank. As a result, I have very diversified experience. I was always thrilled by learning, and this lets me do my job well no matter where I am. However, I saw an opportunity to do something very different when I was approached to join AQPP; this is a unique organization in Canada.
Is the profession adept at creating customer loyalty? What could it do better?
Our association and our members are focused on providing more and more services, so customers must understand what services are available. We want members to be recognized for the quality of these services and the added value to the health system. Pharmacists are often reluctant to sell their services. That is a national challenge we are all struggling with. It’s not natural for pharmacists to market their professional services, and patients are not used to paying for them. We have not traditionally been trained to do that, but today it is essential.
What do you think the future holds for pharmacy?
The model on which most pharmacies operate must evolve to reflect current realities. We are moving to a new approach that is more focused on services and less on the distribution of medication. Technology will play an important role in that. Pharmacists will be more in tune with their patients as a result. The fee structure will also have to change, and there will be a lot of pressure to move to a new business model. We will have to improve our efficiency, and patients will learn that added value comes with a cost.
How does enhanced adherence help advance the profession of pharmacy?
This has been the holy grail of the pharmacy profession. Pharmacists have a big role to play here because we are the most accessible health professional and the closest to the patient in many ways mostly because we follow up more frequently. We must improve adherence, and doing it takes education, trust and a close relationship with patients.