Although Derek Desrosiers jokingly describes his role at the BCPhA as “chief cook and bottle washer,” he primarily helps members with professional practice and business management issues.
Education: University of British Columbia (Pharmacy)
Current role: Director, Pharmacy Practice Support, British Columbia Pharmacy Association (BCPhA), Vancouver
Although Derek Desrosiers jokingly describes his role at the BCPhA as “chief cook and bottle washer,” he primarily helps members with professional practice and business management issues. This includes developing training programs, addressing member inquiries related to third-party payer policies, product supply issues and audits and, above all, advocating for the profession.
What qualities are needed to be an effective pharmacist today? You need to be empathetic. Pharmacists by nature tend to be science-oriented individuals and sometimes struggle to have effective communication with patients. There is a tendency to feel our role is to provide a lot of information, but that may not be effective. It’s about figuring out what information a patient needs at the time. It’s about being a good listener. Patients have access to a lot of information today, but not all of it is reliable. Pharmacists need to help decipher it for them. As the push for collaborative care increases, we also need to be open to hearing the perspectives of other healthcare providers and see ourselves on equal footing.
What are the important lessons you’ve learned in your career? Developing strong relationships with patients and getting to know them at a personal level is very important. At the end of the day, you can know you changed someone’s life today. Developing and nurturing relationships with other healthcare providers is also essential. Too many pharmacists fear communicating with doctors. They don’t have the confidence in their skills, but developing and nurturing those relationships is critical to improved patient outcomes. Pharmacy is a small profession, so never burn bridges with anyone.
How does pharmacy add value to Canada’s healthcare system? Our value continues to change and evolve as our scope of practice changes. We improve patients’ access to primary care, particularly in rural areas where there are shortages of healthcare professionals. We can be a conduit to help people access other points of care. There is great value in being the drug experts; we improve therapy outcomes. We are a cost-effective provider of care.
What is essential to help ensure the profession continues to add value? We need to continue to make full use of the scope of practice we have available to us today. Not enough pharmacists step up to provide these services. That makes it difficult for patients to understand what services we can provide. The more we go beyond dispensing, the more awareness we will create. We need to walk the talk. We need to value ourselves, and that means charging for services. Our healthcare system leads people to conclude services are free. They’re not. We also need to do a better job of marketing ourselves—other healthcare providers should be referring to us. We must move away from the stereotype that pharmacy is just a distribution system.
What advice would you give new pharmacists? You need to do whatever you can to help each patient individually. You should see yourself as a pillar of your community. Let people know you can be counted on. And get involved in your profession. You’re helping to mould the next generation of practitioners.
Leaders in Pharmacy, including this independently written article, is supported by Pfizer Canada Inc.