The past several months have certainly been challenging, and particularly so for pharmacy professionals dealing with the uncertainties of providing safe, quality pharmacy care during a global pandemic. The rapidly evolving situation has tested the profession, and I want to thank you for your commitment to being there for patients when it matters most.
And despite the challenges, pharmacy professionals have adapted and innovated to ensure patients continued to receive the best possible pharmacy care. While physicians’ offices were moving to virtual appointments across the province, pharmacies remained open. For many patients, pharmacists were the most accessible option for non-emergent care throughout most of 2020.
Here at the College, we have also had to find innovative solutions to meeting our obligations as a regulator while also protecting registrants and our own staff. We embraced virtual modes of interaction that made effective use of video—now the majority of practice and operational assessments, investigations and hearings are conducted virtually. Our Board continues to meet using video conferencing technology. And most of our College staff have been working remotely, while continuing to move our important work forward.
While COVID-19 remains a challenge for us all, the College remains focused on several important initiatives.
In the last edition of Pharmacy Connection, Laura Weyland, Chair of the OCP Board of Directors, co-wrote a letter with me about the College’s responsibility to listen, reflect and act to eliminate social injustice in the pharmacy profession. Our Board has committed to work collaboratively with our academic partners to better understand how pharmacy students represent our diverse population, and we continue to look for ways to create dialogue and action that can make a difference to the communities we serve.
Part of that work involves understanding how the College and pharmacy professionals can better serve Indigenous communities, and in this edition of Pharmacy Connection I am pleased to share an interview with Dr. Jaris Swidrovich, Canada’s first self-identified First Nations Doctor of Pharmacy. Jaris shares his insights about how the profession can work towards improving health outcomes for Indigenous patients, always with the understanding that the term “Indigenous” does not refer to a homogenous group.
Also in this edition is an article about Pharmacy Awareness of Indigenous Health (PAIH), a student-run group at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy that is seeking to bring awareness of healthcare barriers faced by Indigenous patients. Their work is helping to educate pharmacy professionals and improve cultural competency within the profession.
And you will read about the College’s commitment to using data to inform quality improvement. The College has recently released data from its Assurance and Improvement in Medication Safety (AIMS) Program and its Quality Indicators initiative, using an interactive online tool that gives pharmacy professionals access to relevant data that may help focus their efforts when developing continuous quality improvement plans. As I mention in my Registrar’s Reflection, I am passionate about using data to drive quality improvement and to inform our own work as a regulator, and I encourage you to consider how you can use data to achieve better health outcomes for your patients.
I know many pharmacy professionals are already in the midst of a busier-than-normal flu vaccination season, made even more challenging by the ongoing pandemic. The College is committed to continuing to support your important work, and I know that together we will help each other—and patients across Ontario—stay well and stay safe.
CEO and Registrar
Ontario College of Pharmacists