Pharmacy U

Leaders in Pharmacy: Margaret Brna – Adapting to change, expanding horizons


Margaret Brna describes her role with Loblaw, supporting both Shoppers Drug Mart and grocery store pharmacies, as assisting pharmacists to embrace expanded scope so they can practise to their full potential. 

Education: Dalhousie University (Bachelor of Science, Pharmacy)

Current role:

Senior Director Pharmacy Professional Services, Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. (Loblaw Group of Companies Limited), Toronto


Brna, who has been in her current position for six years, believes the keys to success are often internal. “Pharmacists have the clinical knowledge, but sometimes lack the confidence,” she notes. “It takes time for a profession to go through an evolution to adapt to change. That is what pharmacy has done. We’ve made tremendous progress, but having a pan-Canadian regulatory framework would allow for a consistent and consolidated support approach.”


Young people in pharmacy today have so many options. What would you say to the graduating class of 2017? It is absolutely the best time to be a pharmacist because of the new and growing number of services you can offer. Use the incredible knowledge that you have to practise to your fullest scope potential. Don’t shy away from this. Also, don’t think narrowly about the career opportunities that are out there. Consider various practice sites and get involved in your pharmacy organizations. If you’re looking for a challenge, take on extra projects with these organizations. Expand your horizons.


How has your role evolved since you first started in the field? I’ve worked in community pharmacy, the pharmaceutical industry and in corporate retail in various roles. In my present position, I have a national responsibility and have gained a unique perspective in seeing changes come to life that we were only dreaming about 15 years ago. The biggest change is the shift in focus on how we provide care to patients. Safe medication dispensing is still key, but we are now providing urgent care, disease management and preventative care. We actively market these services to create customer awareness, including testing consumer response to paying for uninsured services.

What will be the biggest changes in pharmacy in the next decade? Besides changes such as uptake of personalized medicine, I hope we’ll see pharmacists collaborating more with physicians and other healthcare professionals. We need to gain their trust and reassure them we aren’t here to replace their role, but to complement it. This will lead to greater acceptance of pharmacists as partners. We need to demonstrate that our care is beneficial to our mutual patients. The public and private insurance industry will pay greater attention to the services pharmacists can provide as a result.


What is the value of the pharmacist to health care today? Today, pharmacists are the most accessible frontline healthcare providers—but we aren’t necessarily seen that way by everyone yet. We can provide more convenient access to care and often prevent unnecessary healthcare costs. We often do this quietly and that’s why capturing health outcomes is so important to showcase our value.


How will this value change moving forward? I’d like to see the day when physicians refer patients to pharmacists and rely on us as a key partner. This will result in much more holistic patient care. I’m proud to be a Canadian pharmacist. We’re on the cutting edge of pharmacy internationally. It’s fabulous to see the level of care we are providing.



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