Pharmacy U

Judy Roberts. Fully embracing the opportunities ahead



Judy Roberts has been part of the Calgary Co-op since she interned with the association more than 26 years ago. Today she is responsible for the pharmacy division, which includes 23 pharmacies in food centres, a central fill compounding and compliance packaging pharmacy, and five travel health clinics. “My role is one of leadership,” says Judy. “We use a team-based approach with internal and external partners to deliver exceptional customer service that is designed to enhance everyday living.”


Education: University of Saskatchewan (Pharmacy)

Current role: Pharmacy Operations Director, Calgary Co-operative Assn. Ltd.
What intrigued you about being a pharmacist?

Becoming a pharmacist was a natural choice for me. My immediate family includes pharmacists, physicians, teachers, and a social worker. The importance of helping people and making a difference in their lives is a family value that continues to motivate me in my work and in my vision for pharmacy practice.

What surprised you most about the profession once you graduated from school?

My first job was in community pharmacy at a high-volume dispensary where consultation services were limited to prescriptions handed out at the pick-up counter. The focus was on production. My biggest disappointment was the lack of collaboration between healthcare providers. There was no framework for a multidisciplinary, prevention-focused primary care model for a healthcare team. That framework is more commonplace today.

What challenges do pharmacists face today that they didn’t 20 years ago? Is the profession effectively meeting these challenges?

As pharmacists, we are fortunate to be afforded more opportunities now than ever before, but we are challenged by our willingness to fully embrace professional services. In community practice, individual pharmacists grapple with finding a balance between developing their professional competence, providing optimal patient care, and running a business. Many are attaining that balance. At Calgary Co-op, we have clinical pharmacists who only provide personalized, one-on-one consultations with patients.

Why are strong partnerships in these changing times so important for the profession?

As the scope of the profession evolves, it becomes critical to develop strong partnerships with like-minded members of the community to establish and solidify the role of the pharmacist as a viable, sustainable member of the healthcare team. Trusted, respected relationships and teamwork with partners facilitate an environment for the pharmacy team to provide accessible patient-focused care at neighbourhood pharmacies where pharmacists use their full scope of practice.

Do you remember the first partnership you were part of? Do you have any tips for pharmacists looking to establish their inaugural partnerships?

The first true partnership that stands out in my mind was with a pharmaceutical supplier who also had a strong belief in the strength of teams. The partner provided training and tools to improve our knowledge base and skill sets in specific disease states, and in turn, we could better educate patients and collaborate with physicians with confidence. The relationship had a positive impact on both of our organizations and ultimately provided patients in the community with positive health outcomes.

My best advice for pharmacists seeking to establish partnerships is to be open to collaboration with members of the community within and outside healthcare. Be passionate about what you do, both personally and professionally. It’s also important to take risks to maximize opportunities for personal growth and life-long learning. Play an active role in your community, and seek partnerships to support and enhance your contributions as a pharmacist.


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