The Opportunity of a Changing World
The world around us has changed dramatically over the past several months. It is impossible to go about our professional and personal lives without being immersed in the realities of the COVID-19 global pandemic, and the impact it has had on us, our health system and our economy, or the harsh reminders of systemic racism and discrimination in our society.
But with change comes opportunity – for a vaccine in the near term, for society to finally hear the suffering of our racialized communities and push for action, for better patient outcomes and a more sustainable healthcare system with the acceleration of technology use to support care, and for better access to care with the expansion in scope of practice for pharmacists.
How will the profession respond to the opportunity? One of the true tests of the strength of a profession is how it responds to change and contributes to meaningful and lasting solutions that make our society better for everyone – for patients, the health system and the community at large.
COVID-19: a collective rise to the challenge
Pharmacy professionals respond by rising up to the challenge. As Premier Ford acknowledged in one of his daily media briefings in late June, pharmacy professionals are making a tremendous contribution to the province’s ability to respond to the pandemic and deserve our collective gratitude.
There is no question that our collective experience with our current public health crisis has caused great strain, anxiety and frustration for everyone in our community. As it became clear in February that we were on the precipice of a global pandemic, there was a realization that despite preparedness efforts that many organizations, including the College, have implemented over the years, a public health crisis of this scale and significance was, and still is, unprecedented in our lifetime. New strategies needed to be conceived, new policies created, new solutions developed and implemented all while learning from the rapidly evolving challenges that this public health crisis has thrown at all of us every day.
For all healthcare professionals, including pharmacies and pharmacy professionals, this was an immense challenge and also an opportunity to rethink our propensity to cling to the way things are done. The shift to virtual care, finding new ways to deliver care, and the collaboration across health professions have resulted in a better appreciation for what each of us brings to the table and the start of a stronger foundation on which to build for the future.
Building momentum towards shared accountability principles
A stronger foundation also means addressing the challenges within the pharmacy profession to support the change to broader scope, strengthened professionalism and improved quality and safe patient care. We have heard through our many consultations and Regional Meetings that we need to work together to address the challenges in the community pharmacy practice environment. We have a shared accountability to make change in the practice environment and sustain it, but we need the commitment of all partners, including our front line professionals. The College has a role to play in laying the foundation by leading the development of shared principles and ensuring they are upheld.
One of the true tests of the strength of a profession is how it responds to change and contributes to meaningful and lasting solutions that make our society better for everyone
Industry leaders, owners and front line pharmacy professionals build on the foundation by participating in the development of shared principles and committing to working together to uphold and act on them, holding each other accountable for implementation and seizing opportunities that support professionalism. Patients and the public support the foundation by holding us all accountable to ensuring we continue to nurture a positive practice environment, understanding the role of the profession, communicating their expectations in the level of care and giving the profession the time to provide that care.
These are early days and we look forward to continuing the work with our Community Practice Environment Advisory Group (CPEAG) to develop a set of shared accountability principles. Please watch for more updates as this work moves forward over the coming months. More information is available on our website under Key Initiatives.
We owe it to ourselves and each other to enable an environment that supports optimal care from the profession to improve quality and safe patient care. The alternative is a profession that becomes irrelevant, and in the end, it is the public that loses the benefit of the knowledge and access to care that the profession brings.
Embracing change for a better society
In this issue of Pharmacy Connection you will see a statement published jointly by myself and Laura Weyland, Board Chair, which emphasizes that we all must take the time to reflect, learn and act when it comes to the elimination of systemic racism and discrimination in our society. Doing so is not the responsibility of a single group or institution, but is a collective duty that everyone in our society shares.
As pharmacy professionals, we must continue to hold ourselves and each other accountable to the Code of Ethics that clearly states expectations of our profession and emphasizes just how important a role those who work in pharmacy can play in contributing to safer, more inclusiveness and fair communities for all. Please take time to reflect on your obligations as a pharmacy professional, including reacquainting yourselves with each of the e-learning modules we’ve developed on the Code of Ethics to support your own reflection as well as the discussions that we encourage all of you to have with your colleagues and teams on how we can collectively contribute to the elimination of racism and discrimination in all its forms in our health system and society.