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2023 Pillar of Pharmacy Award: Bill Wilson

2023 Pillar of Pharmacy Award | Picture of Bill Wilson - Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy

2023 Pillar of Pharmacy Award: Bill Wilson

Bill Wilson is the 2023 recipient of the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy’s prestigious Pillar of Pharmacy Award.

“Bill has poured his heart and soul into pharmacy, and we’re so pleased to be able to thank him for all he has done,” says Linda Prytula, Executive Director of CFP.

Wilson has witnessed—and helped shepherd—a lot of change in the profession since graduating from the University of Saskatchewan’s pharmacy faculty more than 50 years ago. Having worked primarily in hospital pharmacy practice, Wilson has always been deeply committed to patient safety and the role that pharmacists play as system leaders in safe medication practice. He retired as Director of Pharmacy for Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, in 2016.

Wilson worked as a relief community pharmacist for more than 30 years, maintaining his active licence until just a few years ago. He established his own consulting firm in 1992 to take on additional projects for hospital pharmacy practice and advise pharmaceutical companies. During this time, he continued to broaden his influence as a pharmacy leader through his various roles in education and advocacy. He was a lecturer at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy from 1984 until 2017.

Wilson’s volunteer work also spans decades. He served on boards and took on the role of president for numerous pharmacy associations, including the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists (nationally and the Ontario branch), the Canadian Pharmacists Association. He also served on the Board of the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA), and all three associations have bestowed their own awards in recognition of his achievements. He volunteered for CFP from 2012 to 2020, serving as President in his final year.

In July 2018 he came out of retirement to serve as interim CEO of the OPA until September 2019.

In 2019, Wilson was inducted into the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Pharmacy and Nutrition Hall of Fame.

“Looking back, what really stands out for me is I had the chance to work with so many visionaries, starting from my profs in my undergraduate years and then in the hospitals, community practice and through all of my association work. I learned a lot from them and they really inspired me to do my part,” says Wilson.

Additional training in executive management and leadership, most recently with the Rotman School of Business Health Care Leadership Institute in 2012, helped him do his part as a director of hospital pharmacy, an educator and a volunteer. “When asked about my leadership style I used to say, ‘I like to point the way and then get the hell out of the way’,” jokes Wilson.

The pace of positive change in both hospital and community pharmacies has accelerated in the past decade. “In hospital, we evolved from dispensing pills in the basement, to pharmacy clinicians working on the nursing units as vital members of the healthcare team. Over time pharmacists have proven themselves to be very valuable with respect to the most important part of practice, which is patient safety.”

Wilson encourages today’s pharmacists to seek out and work with the visionaries in their own lives, to keep the momentum going. However, despite the strides made in recent years, he advises patience. “People seem to want rapid change or they think change should happen more quickly. But real progress, for the most part, is a journey. It takes time to build good working relationships and networks. Keeping a focus on patient care and needs should always be our guided. Whether you’re in pharmacy or nursing or government or a pharmaceutical company, we all have our job to do and have to work together.” CFP will honour Bill Wilson on November 22 at the Pillar of Pharmacy Dinner in Toronto. Click here for details and to make your reservation.

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