Pharmacy U

Stacy Johnson never says no to opportunity


“Some pharmacists say that practice change is too difficult. One of my favourite quotes is ‘shouldn’t we try?’”



  • University of Alberta – Pharmacy

Current Role

  • Director of Pharmacy Professional Services at Canada Safeway Pharmacy

Stacy Johnson has taken every opportunity to move her career forward. Her willingness to change attracted the notice of senior leadership, who envisioned the part she could play in management. Her passion for showcasing the role of the pharmacist is apparent in every pharmacy project she is involved with.

What was it like when you first graduated?

I graduated before the shortage of pharmacists occurred. A full-time job was not a guarantee. I wanted to stay in a major city and was offered a floating position in Calgary for Safeway. After a few months, I was offered a part-time position at a great store. I was thrilled and took advantage of the opportunity. Shortly thereafter I was asked to move to a very challenging store. I did make the change (although inside I was reluctant) and in retrospect it was a good decision and a great learning experience.

When did you start working at the head office level?

I was exposed to many aspects of the business, and when the pharmacy projects manager went on maternity leave, I was asked if I would be interested in the position. It was a great opportunity, and I initially worked one day a week on these projects and still maintained four days in the pharmacy. Over time, this evolved to a full-time management position and eventually a promotion to director.

What was the role of mentors throughout your career?

The pharmacy leadership at Safeway has had a significant impact on my career. They were visionaries, incredible bosses and larger than life personalities. As I transitioned to having more responsibility and more exposure to the pharmacy industry nationally, I was not sure if I could demonstrate the same skills. During a conversation about this uncertainty, my boss told me I should always remember that my thoughts and opinions were just as valuable as anyone else’s. He explained it was more important to speak up and share what I thought than to be worried what anyone else thinks.

Tell us about your current position.

As the Director of Pharmacy Professional Services at Safeway I lead the professional practice programs at Safeway and provide marketing and direction on expanded services, in-store programs and pharmacist education. It is an incredible position, as I am able to look at a problem, work with my team to develop and implement a solution and monitor the success the program.

Why do you feel that there are so many great women in pharmacy?

One factor could be that women are very adaptable to change. In my experience women are comfortable making something out of nothing. We are able to multitask and, often in the absence of extensive tools and resources, take a jumble of ideas and find a way to make them work.

What would you tell new pharmacy graduates?

Take advantage of every opportunity. In a chain with over 1,000 pharmacists, an important way to be recognized is for your ability to change and adapt. There are many times more risk saying ‘no’ than trying a new opportunity. Confidence is so important for the practice of pharmacy. We need to become comfortable in who we are and what we can do for our patients.

Leaders in Pharmacy, including this independently written article, is supported by GenMed, a division of Pfizer