Carlo Berardi has been a pharmacist for more than 30 years. He owns four pharmacies in the Sudbury area including the Nickel Centre Pharmacy in Sudbury, a traditional community pharmacy. “People depend on us as a source of medical advice, product selection, vaccinations and everything in between,” says Berardi. “We play a large role.”
Education: University of Toronto (Pharmacy) Western (MBA)
Current role: Pharmacist-owner, Nickel Centre Pharmacy and three other stores, Sudbury
How do you build trusted relationships with patients? You build these relationships one patient at a time. You have to take the time to address each person’s individual health concerns. I always ask if there is anything more I can do for a patient. You are not going to build a trusted relationship by advertising. It requires much more than that. Customers choose to come to you, and they have high expectations of the value you have to offer them. You have to be on your game to meet those expectations.
What would you say to new pharmacists about demonstrating their value to the broader health system? New graduates are incredibly well educated and trained—better than at any other time in our history. The biggest challenge is self-confidence. I would tell graduates not to be afraid to apply themselves. Take responsibility to meet the needs of your customers. At our pharmacy, for example, we make appointments with patients in their homes to review complex prescriptions with a pharmacist.
How is the perception of pharmacists changing within the health system and with patients? The public is seeing us move away from our primary role of dispensing medication. That’s why it is important for pharmacists to step out from behind the counter and help patients navigate their health concerns. This will help us to be seen as a valued member of the health system. The system too has changed. There is no longer any significant reluctance to turn to the pharmacist for health services. Today many doctors refer patients to pharmacists for services and this is only going to grow.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a pharmacist today? The external environment in which we operate can be very challenging. It seems that every time our profession talks to government we’re talking about withdrawal of services or reducing and limiting the ones we provide. It should be the other way around. Governments have limited resources and we can help.
We have to prove there is value in expanding pharmacists’ services. We have studies now quantifying their value. Still, it can be difficult to persuade payers and others.
What do you find most satisfying about being part of the pharmacy profession? I still love going to work. Every day my job lets me say, “How can I help you?” I know we make a difference as a profession. But it is important to get involved in associations. I urge pharmacists to become knowledgeable about the issues and speak up. It is essential we get involved at the community level. We are healthcare professionals and our community relies on our engagement. We play an important leadership role.
Leaders in Pharmacy, including this independently written article, is supported by Pfizer Canada Inc.