Paula MacNeil is focused on looking outward.
In her role as Senior Director of Professional Affairs and Government Relations with Shoppers Drug Mart in Atlantic Canada, she works closely with advocacy bodies, government departments, and regulatory bodies to better understand their position on important issues and to effectively share her company’s perspective so that patients ultimately benefit. “It’s not only about bringing Shoppers Drug Mart’s point of view to the table but also considering what is in the best interests of the patient and healthcare system and offering viable solutions to important issues,” she says.
Education: Dalhousie University (Bachelor of Science, Pharmacy)
Current role: Senior Director, Professional Affairs and Government Relations Atlantic, Shoppers Drug Mart, Moncton, N.B.
What legacy would you like to leave to the pharmacy profession? What is most important to you as a pharmacist?
A strong advocacy body established through our national and provincial associations is critical. Pharmacists need to believe in and advocate for our profession. Pharmacists are a key member of the healthcare team, and we need to demonstrate that we have the confidence and the leadership to take our rightful place on that team. Too often pharmacists feel they must take a back seat and shy away from validating their contribution. The public and other healthcare professionals are seeing the value that pharmacists provide and the importance of what we can offer. The services we provide today are only the tip of the iceberg; we need to push forward collectively as a profession in the interest of our patient and our healthcare system as a whole.
What tips do you have for pharmacists looking to provide the best quality service to their patients?
Service starts with having confidence in what you do and believing in the value of the services you provide. If you see no value in what you offer, it is hard for others to see it Pharmacists offer high-quality professional services and, like all other professionals, deserve remuneration for those services. I would also recommend that as a pharmacist you stay current and embrace change, offer those services within your scope of practice and, as a professional, practise to the highest level of scope possible.
How do you define customer loyalty?
Loyalty is nurtured through relationships, and it must be earned. Pharmacists who take the time to truly care and understand their patients’ needs will effectively build those relationships resulting in loyal customers. Customers are really in the driver’s seat when it comes to where they take their business. It is the relationships they have with their pharmacy team that will ultimately make the difference.
How critical is customer loyalty in shaping and redefining the pharmacy profession?
This is extremely important. As with any healthcare professional, the better you know your patients, the more effective you are in dealing with them as whole persons. This enables you to take into account all that impacts their health and avoid focusing on just one medication or one disease state. Instead – and most significantly – you see them as individuals with a variety of healthcare needs.
How can pharmacists promote adherence among patients?
Again, it comes down to building a strong rapport with patients and educating them about the best lifestyle options, treatments and other choices to effectively manage their health and to live their lives to the fullest. In many cases, this guidance will also help patients to live longer lives. Promoting adherence to treatment and adjusting treatments as needed are a large part of the pharmacist-patient relationship – and they are vital to helping your patients lead healthy, rewarding lives.