Dean Miller has more than 35 years’ experience in the pharmacy sector. As he says, “I have been very fortunate to learn from some of pharmacy’s most distinguished leaders, in both Canada and the USA. I’ve also been able to build my knowledge of pharmacy operations, strategy planning and brand building both as a business and a profession.” Today, as a leader in pharmacy, Miller shares his passion for his profession with a whole new generation of young people.
Education: University of Alberta (Pharmacy)
Current role: President and CEO, Whole Health Pharmacy Partners
How would you describe the changing role of pharmacy? What will this mean for pharmacists and the profession?
This sounds clichéd, but it’s true: pharmacy is so much more than being behind the counter. That is even truer today where we are seeing a blurring of healthcare professions. People have had to take on more non-traditional roles. Pharmacists today and five years from today are going to be asked to do things they’ve never done before. People are starting to knock on our door. They’ve never asked us to step up before, so this is an important opportunity. Our profession has tended to attract people who are comfortable with the traditional role of the pharmacist. Now we need innovators.
What do you think the future holds for pharmacy?
Change is going to continue. We’re not as pioneering as we need to be. But we’re getting better, and we’re changing the way the profession is being perceived. Ten years from now things will be very different. There are changes happening from the store level up. Personalized medicine, anyone?
As a leader in pharmacy, what continues to drive you?
I’m a 50ish guy. Many people my age are looking at how they will finish their career. I’m not that kind of person. There have been more changes in pharmacy recently than at any other time in history. I say, “Wow. Let’s keep going.” That’s the driving force for me. I want to hand over a better profession to the next generation. It’s so important to influence young people. It’s like building a great hockey team. You’re never going to win the Stanley Cup with a team of veterans. You need a mix of veterans, rookies and people willing to get their hands dirty to create a winner.
Do you feel that there are enough strong advocates in pharmacy?
We don’t have enough strong advocates. The same people tend to do all the advocacy work within the profession, stifling the creativity of new ideas. Many of us look at each other today and ask, “After we’re gone, who do we hand the work over to?” We need to find more people with the passion for the profession and for helping patients. Otherwise it’s the same group of people saying the same thing. We need to refresh. The way to do that is to start earlier than we do today, engage students and young practitioners who bring new ideas to the discussion. It’s not about dollars and cents. It’s about giving back.
Why is advocacy so important today?
The rules in healthcare are starting to bend. In 2006-2010, many of us started an advocacy journey never before seen in Canadian pharmacy. Many said pharmacy failed miserably, we didn’t get everything we wanted, but we learned a great deal and opened the door wide to expanded scope of practice! I am very proud of that. Those who stand up and shout from the rooftops will shine a light on our profession. We have to stand up for ourselves and for our patients. We can’t be complacent.