Pharmacy U

Pharmacy Leader profile: CFP’s Dayle Acorn advocates for the profession of pharmacy.


by donalee Moulton

The Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy, a registered charity, has a singular mission: to advance the profession of pharmacy. Its current primary focus is to fund practice research related to pharmacists’ expanded scope of practice, both to support adoption within the profession and to demonstrate pharmacists’ value to other stakeholders. Since Dayle Acorn joined the organization in 2007 as executive director, the Foundation has issued grants totalling more than $1 million for practice research projects through its Innovation Fund.

EDUCATION: York University (Physical Education)
CURRENT ROLE: Executive Director, Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy


How would you describe the Foundation to pharmacy students? What do you think would surprise them?

We’re funding research that shows the underlying value of pharmacy to the health sector. From urinary tract infection management to diabetes care to home-based medication reviews and travel vaccines, researchers funded by the Foundation share one thing in common: they demonstrate – and help fulfill – pharmacists’ largely untapped potential as primary healthcare providers. This research has an impact on the profession today. And tomorrow. Students may also unknowingly be very familiar with some of our other work. We spearheaded the development of Pharmacy Management in Canada, an updated textbook to help Canadian pharmacists and students learn how to manage a successful business. More than 100 authors and editors volunteered their time and expertise.

As a leader in pharmacy, what continues to drive you?

Government needs to understand the value they are getting for their dollar when pharmacists provide health services. This requires real-world evidence, and we need to provide that proof. Even if government does not buy into our evidence-based recommendations right away, research can be invaluable to prevent further cuts.

Is the profession generally skilled at taking action to enhance its value to patients? What could it do better?

We always have to be mindful of the need to put the patient at the centre of health care. Research indicates the healthcare system doesn’t always take a patient-first approach. The opportunity is there for pharmacists to have a stronger role, but much of what they do is transactional. We need to move beyond this.

What do you think the future holds for pharmacy?

The opportunity and need to proactively connect with patients in an ongoing way will grow. That will include taking a more longitudinal approach to support patients with chronic conditions and complex drug regimens. Moving forward, all healthcare professionals will be more accountable for the health outcomes of their patients. This outreach is starting to happen in pharmacy around adherence and medication synchronization. It will enable us to better position the patient at the centre of the services we provide. There is also a greater role available for pharmacy as we move further into customized health care and personalized medicine.

How does acting to enhance value for patients help advance the profession?

Enhancing value for patients is linked to enhancing the image of the pharmacy profession. There is no doubt we have to continue moving forward in this area. Cost-cutting initiatives by governments will continue to have an impact on the business. We must also recognize – and accept – that the business and the profession have to work in unison, for the benefit of the patient, if we want to continue moving forward. We still struggle with consumers’ belief that health care should be free, and the running of a business is often seen to conflict with this. We are approaching a critical point, but I’m still optimistic about the role of pharmacy. The accessibility of pharmacists is the cornerstone of their value to patients, and we can take greater advantage of this.

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The article appeared originally in Pharmacy Practice + Business and Canadian Healthcare Network.