As the head of the Island’s professional advocacy organization, Erin MacKenzie serves as spokesperson for pharmacists in the province. She works closely with government to advance an expanded role of pharmacists in the healthcare system.
Education: Dalhousie University (Pharmacy)
Current role: Executive Director, Prince Edward Island Pharmacists Association, Stratford
As the head of the Island’s professional advocacy organization, Erin MacKenzie serves as spokesperson for pharmacists in the province. She works closely with government to advance an expanded role of pharmacists in the health system. MacKenzie also serves as Executive Director of the Dalhousie Pharmacy Endowment Fund and works as a pharmacist providing relief services.
What advice do you have for pharmacy students? What do you think will surprise them most after graduating?
One of my mantras is that students should get involved in the profession as soon as they can. It may come as a surprise that some of the skills acquired in school may not be supported in practice by legislation or tradition. With the involvement of our new practitioners, the profession can move forward to fully utilize the expertise of pharmacists. It is very rewarding to be able to have a say in the direction your profession takes!
As a leader in pharmacy, what continues to drive you?
I have seen firsthand how much pharmacists have been able to do for patients and how much more they could do. As the profession moves forward, we create best practices across the country. There is an environment of sharing.
Is the profession adept at creating value for the health system? What could it do better? The tagline for PEI’s health authority is “The right care, by the right provider, in the right place.” That captures what we do. Pharmacists are very accessible. We create access to frontline health care across this country. Pharmacists are important healthcare resources and are often a first point of contact for patients. We can provide many health services more conveniently and more economically than other providers and settings. There is always an opportunity to do more. Currently pharmacists are reimbursed for a small number of services. A few years ago we weren’t compensated for any of these, so we’ve come a long way. However, we can go much further.
What does the future hold for pharmacy? I envision a future where pharmacists are established as the go-to professionals to address many common ailments and access many other health services. This can help to reduce wait times and alleviate the burden on ERs and clinics. While patients currently can access these services at no cost from other providers, health care is not ‘free’ and its sustainability is at risk. A change in the reimbursement model must occur, and a covered service should be a covered service, regardless of provider. This will require a change in culture.
How has the perception of pharmacy changed in the last decade? Some of what we hope to see in the future is starting to happen now. What pharmacists used to do behind the counter was a mystery. It was seen as a technical role. Now that role is much clearer to the public. There has been a shift to a real respect and value for pharmacists and what they do.
This profile originally appeared in Pharmacy Practice + Business magazine and Canadian Healthcare Network.