Pharmacy U

Pharmacy Leader profile: Bruce Winston – “We’re the stewards of our profession.”


Bruce Winston purchased his first community pharmacy one year after graduating. Today, he is an CEO and owner of Sandstone Pharmacies, which operates  pharmacies throughout Calgary and rural Alberta.

Education: University of Alberta (Pharmacy)

Current role: CEO and owner, Sandstone Pharmacies, Alberta


Bruce Winston purchased his first community pharmacy one year after graduating. Today, he is CEO and owner of Sandstone Pharmacies, which operates pharmacies throughout Calgary and rural Alberta. “I prefer to be able to get up in the morning, go visit one of my pharmacies and be home at the end of the day,” he says.


Sandstone offers a “person-centred” healthcare model. Can you describe the model and why it is so important?

When I attend conferences, presenters always show models with the patient in the middle. This concept looks good on a slide, but it often fails at the counter level. Patients continue to tell us they don’t really understand why they are taking a medication or what it actually does. Pharmacists are well positioned to help provide that information. We must play a bigger role. I encourage my team to focus on the care of the person on the other side of the counter. We want to be their health concierge.


What advice would you give new pharmacists about delivering person-centred care in the years ahead?

Move out from behind the counter whenever you have a chance. That wide counter can offer great comfort, but the most meaningful engagement occurs when you’re face to face with the patient. The care plan process in Alberta has created fantastic opportunities to learn more about the overall health of our patients. Pharmacists and patients are now participating in setting health goals together.


How is enhanced value an integral part of the work you do?

Twenty years ago as a pharmacist, I regurgitated facts and information. I didn’t know enough about my patients. The value pharmacists can bring now is so much greater, especially for prescribing pharmacists, and momentum will only continue to build if we demonstrate our value. I believe we sometimes forget our goal is improving outcomes for patients. I try to remember that every professional service dollar we bill is attached to a patient, and the patient had to benefit from that service.


Why is it critical that pharmacists be leaders in healthcare?

We’re the stewards of our profession. We know payers want to pay less for dispensing, so we’d better decide what pivotal role we want to play. Years ago, I received an award for creating a multidisciplinary healthcare team in my pharmacy. That program grew out of my feeling hampered in what I could do for a complicated diabetic patient. The multidisciplinary team was a workaround. Now, our broader scope of practice has provided us with so many opportunities to directly impact our patients’ health, especially with chronic disease management.

How has this leadership role changed since you graduated?

If pharmacists don’t step up, other professions will. My role has evolved. I can’t help my pharmacists clinically. They’re better trained than I am. However, I can assist them with their moral and ethical questions. I’m a coach. All I see when I step behind the counter is opportunity. My wish for the future: that pharmacists would stop talking about expanded scope of practice and just live it. The services we provide today are the standard of care. They are not an add-on, they are central to good pharmacy practice. We need to move out of the past and embrace our future.