Supporting Innovation in Pharmacy for a Healthier Canada

Gearing up for a new breed of pharmacist


JANUARY 2014 - With the expanding role of pharmacists, Canada's universities have a key role to play in admitting the right kinds of candidates into pharmacy programs, believes Dr. David Edwards, Hallman Director and Associate Dean at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy.

Speaking at the most recent Pharmacy Forum hosted by the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy, Dr. Edwards noted that while pharmacists have a strong desire to implement patient services, they're struggling to integrate them into everyday practice. "Being the only co-op program in Canada gives us a real-world perspective on what students are seeing [in the workplace]," he said. "There's pressure to achieve clinical quotas, but an inconsistency in the scope and level of practice."

Dr. Edwards noted that the typical characteristics of pharmacists (i.e., detail-oriented and risk-averse) can make clinical decision-making difficult in real-life practice. "We have 15 to 20 courses on medication management whereas doctors have one," he said. "Our student are getting so much more information yet they still lack confidence, and that's something we in academia have to address."

In addition to strong intellectual competence, the pharmacists of the future need strong communication skills, leadership qualities and community engagement, said Dr. Edwards. "Our role must be to recruit students who will embrace patient-centric medication management and to provide them with a curriculum that will prepare them for this role."