I recently attended an event to hear Harry Cayton, a renowned expert and authority in regulatory reform, talk about his views on the transformation of how professions are regulated and the role of oversight authorities around the globe. Among the many powerful messages he shared with audience members, one in particular resonated with me: "Regulation provides a framework in which professionalism can flourish."
Such a powerful message, but also a simple one. Oftentimes, pharmacy professionals view their regulator as “the stick” and ultimately, the regulator does have a critical role to play in serving and protecting the public by creating and enabling the right systems, structures, programs and guidance to promote quality, safe and ethical pharmacy care. But there is also a role that pharmacy professionals must play to protect the profession in which they have chosen to practice. This means not only ensuring patients are first in every professional decision that’s made, but also in upholding the high ethical principles and standards that made pharmacists one of the most trusted healthcare professionals in the first place.
Earlier in March I was privileged to help launch Pharmacist Awareness Month at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy to celebrate the invaluable role that pharmacists – and pharmacy technicians – play in our health system and in the lives of patients. It was my pleasure to do so as both as the CEO and Registrar of the College and as a fellow pharmacist.
As I reflected on why I chose a career to serve the public and patients, I was reminded that those in our chosen profession had similar if not the same thinking – that the calling to help those in need, to gain the knowledge that’s necessary to practice in a specialized field, to become a Professional – was at the core of that decision. But what does it mean to be a Professional? With the title comes responsibility.
Regulation provides a framework in which professionalism can flourish.
Professionalism isn’t something that we do, but something that guides our actions. It is something that we feel and believe in. It is the foundation of our oath to serve and protect our patients and uphold our fiduciary duty as a regulated health professional.
Indeed, patients rely on the skill and expertise of pharmacy professionals every day in this province, and we expect that the role of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians as health professionals in Ontario will evolve over time just as the needs and expectations of patients evolve. Yet while we need to take these opportunities to recognize and celebrate our individual and collective professionalism, we must also work together to nurture it.
We all need to support one another and get the message out there that each one of us has a role to play when it comes to representing what the profession of pharmacy stands for. We must lead by example and hold ourselves and each other accountable for our actions, just as we celebrate the many accomplishments and contributions that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians make to the health and quality of life of patients every day.
CEO and Registrar
Ontario College of Pharmacists