Pharmacy U

Jeff May – 575 million opportunities


Jeff May has been responsible for pharmacy operations and franchise businesses from St. John’s to Victoria. “My objective has always been to provide as many business and professional supports as possible so pharmacists can provide enhanced patient care,” he says.


Education: University of Alberta (Pharmacy)

Current role: Retail pharmacy executive

Experience: Pharmacy leader with The Medicine Shoppe, Shoppers Drug Mart and Target

As a pharmacy leader, how did you help your pharmacists create new and distinct franchise operations?

Innovation has been a central focus of my work. When I was with The Medicine Shoppe, we introduced the small-format, clinic-type pharmacy to communities and neighbourhoods across Canada. We adapted a model, based on a U.S. approach to providing pharmacy services, for the Canadian market. The result was a new addition to the pharmacy landscape.

As Target Canada’s Senior Director of Healthcare Operations, I helped introduce a franchise business model unique to the Canadian marketplace. We provided pharmacists with a turnkey operation inside a major retail outlet; all they had to do was focus on providing great care to guests in the store and in their community.

At Shoppers Drug Mart, I worked in variety of roles from the Prairie Region to the corporate office. I supported Shoppers associates and pharmacists to embrace new programs and ways to interact with patients. I worked on and led teams that helped to optimize profitability and pricing strategies. Most of my work was advocacy: leading efforts across the country to create the regulatory environment for enhanced services and developing funding models to financially support those services. Working with pharmacy stakeholders, we led efforts to protect the economic environment for pharmacists in the face of regulatory and funding reforms.

Regardless of the concept, however, the goal remains the same: to help pharmacists stretch their professional muscles. These models enabled that to happen for many of the pharmacists I’m fortunate to have worked with. They created long-term and substantive relationships with their patients.

Looking back at your career, what are you proudest of?

There isn’t one single, outstanding moment. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, so there have been several highlights. When I was with The Medicine Shoppe, I helped pharmacists open their first store, and many are still there. I was also involved in the early development of the legislation in Alberta that paved the way for an expanded scope of practice. And, along the way I protected pharmacists against efforts to cut back on our services. It matters to me that we made a difference.

Is advocacy important to you? Why?

Every pharmacist has a responsibility to promote what they do. Every day in this country we affect people’s lives. There are 575 million prescriptions filled in this country each year. That’s 575 million opportunities to interact with Canadians.

Is advocacy important for community pharmacists?

Advocacy at the community pharmacist level is essential. Indeed, advocacy starts the moment the pharmacist interacts with the patient. Their opinion of the pharmacy profession is formed in that moment.

The reality is that although the practice of pharmacy has changed dramatically, base dispensing has remained relatively the same, and this is what many patients envision when they think of pharmacy services. I doubt too many patients walk into a pharmacy and ask for a medication review. It is in this area of change management that community pharmacists play such an important role. As a profession, we have a lot of work to do to help patients understand the services we provide – services that they should be demanding.

How can community pharmacists become involved as advocates?  

Community pharmacists have busy practices and busy lives. Adding more to the plate can be daunting. I’d recommend you start small. Get involved with your local college, pharmacy faculty or provincial association. It’s really easy to get on a committee. Once involved, you can see the broader scope of the profession. This helps us to think differently and to understand firsthand why advocacy is critical.