Margaret Wing oversees the administration and operation of RxA, which promotes pharmacists and their role in supporting and advancing the health of Albertans. “One of our primary roles,” she says, “is working with elected officials in Alberta so they better understand and acknowledge the contribution pharmacists can make to the healthcare system.”
Education: University of Alberta (Pharmacy), Athabasca University (MBA)
Current role: CEO, Alberta Pharmacists’ Association (RxA), Alberta
How would you describe a great day at work?
I believe I have the best job in the world. Every day is different. We work with stakeholders in such diverse areas as economic modeling and electronic health records. I work with 10 board members and seven staff. As a team, we may work on some projects for many months. When what you’ve been working on becomes reality, those are great days. Everything comes together and you create change that positively affects pharmacy practice.
What is or has been your greatest challenge as a pharmacist?
There are many daunting challenges, but because of this there are also many opportunities and incredible moments. One of the best days I’ve experienced was back in 2012 when the Minister of Health announced government’s support for a full suite of pharmacy services, the Pharmacy Services Framework. We had been working on this for more than three years. Now Alberta is leading the way in all of this – and not just in Canada. We’re in an amazing place. Since that time pharmacists have provided $47 million worth of services– that means that currently Alberta pharmacists are providing more than 100,000 services per month.
Was there an “aha” moment for you, a moment when you knew you were making a difference?
It was a great moment when pharmacists in Alberta were granted access to the public influenza immunization program. We had worked on that for years. RxA spent more than two years creating an education program that enables pharmacists to administer injections. Now Alberta pharmacists are administering more than one third of influenza vaccines in the province. That’s a huge “aha” moment.
In April 2014, three new agreements were signed with the government after months of meetings. They include an MOU between RxA and Alberta Health – and this was historic. It provided pharmacists with a voice in important health and professional matters related to the delivery of pharmacy care.
How does advocacy help advance the work of pharmacy?
All my “aha” moments are founded in advocacy. We would not have the achievements we have today without professional associations advocating on pharmacists’ behalf. There is a presumption that advocacy is easy. When I first started at RxA, I attended a meeting where I was asked why the association did not meet with the health department and get billing numbers for pharmacists the same as doctors have. I was surprised that a pharmacist would think all we had to do was walk across the street and request billing numbers. Often people don’t understand how challenging and complex advocacy actually is.
Why is advocacy important to you?
Advocacy is my job, but I am extremely passionate about this profession. What makes it easy to be an advocate is that I have witnessed firsthand what my pharmacist colleagues have done for their patients.