Pharmacy U

Leaders in Pharmacy: Ross Tsuyuki – Building evidence of pharmacy’s value

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When he was offered a position as a professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine, Ross Tsuyuki thought it sounded both different and interesting. “I was not sure anyone had done this before,” he says. “I signed up for three years. That was 21 years ago.”

 

Education: University of British Columbia (Pharmacy), St. Paul’s Hospital (residency), State University of New York at Buffalo (Doctor of Pharmacy), McMaster University (Master of Science in Health Research Methods)

 

Current role: Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Director of the Epidemiology Coordinating and Research (EPICORE) Centre at the University of Alberta, Edmonton

 

When he was offered a position as a professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine, Ross Tsuyuki thought it sounded both different and interesting. “I was not sure anyone had done this before,” he says. “I signed up for three years. That was 21 years ago.”

 

What is your current role and what motivates you to go to work every morning?

I work with a great group of people and a fantastic group of pharmacists who participate in practice research. It is inspiring to see the level of care they deliver. Everybody wants to think they’re doing something important. The conditions we’re studying are enormous. We can help make improvements in serious and common conditions. Two-thirds of my time is spent on research, but I also work in the clinic and see patients, as well as teaching and serving as administrator. You find a way to make it all work.

 

If you could change one thing in the pharmacy profession, what would it be? We’re trying to change the way pharmacists practise and the way pharmacy is perceived. I would like to see the profession focus exclusively on patient-centered care. Patient care—that’s what we are here for. There are a lot of distractions and vested interests. We need to address these because the fundamental thing has to be patient care. And we’re not just talking about counting pills for the patient. In many ways, we (pharmacists) are the biggest barrier to changing our profession.

 

Why is demonstrating value so important in the current climate? Research is an important part of the value we provide as a profession. If you are going to change practice, shouldn’t it be driven by evidence? You have to come to the table with evidence. We have to have hard evidence because that is what policy-makers need. We have demonstrated that those who get the pharmacist’s care do better. For example, there are 45 randomized trials on pharmacists managing hypertension, and they all show that patients do better. Additional research found if you get treated by a pharmacist for high blood pressure you have an improved outcome and it could save over $15.7 billion. That is extraordinary.

 

What can pharmacists do to create greater awareness of their value? We need to work with our provincial associations to help them understand the evidence and take it forward. We have a responsibility to share this knowledge and to apply this knowledge. We offer services that save lives and save healthcare dollars. Our impact as a profession needs to be understood.

 

What advice would you give to young pharmacists looking to make a difference?

First, you have to practise to your full scope. We’re notorious for practising below our level of skills. Strive to practise above your scope of practice. And get involved. Help your provincial association. They need a stronger voice. The landscape for this—the public health need, the evidence and the state of our healthcare system—doesn’t get any better. We have strong healthcare evidence, strong economic evidence. We have an incredible opportunity. Advocacy groups need to understand the value of an advanced scope of practice that means prescribing and providing patient care. There can be no compromise. Don’t accept anything less.

 

Leaders in Pharmacy, including this independently written article, is supported by Pfizer Canada Inc.