RxA’s Leadership Cohort

RxA’s Leadership Cohort is a grassroots initiative to establish a province-wide group of pharmacist leaders willing and enabled to promote and share the work of RxA and pharmacists with other pharmacists, patients, policymakers, influencers, and elected officials, increasing understanding of the value of the profession. 

Leadership Cohort Members are responsible for:

  • Building relationships, leadership networks and opportunities to champion the role of pharmacists as valued members of the healthcare system.
  • Supporting pharmacists in their advocacy efforts and assist them in practicing in the Alberta Practice Model.
  • Providing grassroots, frontline feedback on policies and issues that affect practice and the profession.

Meet your Leadership Cohort.

Making a Difference…

Meet the Leadership Cohort members who are making a difference everyday.

Meet Mark Percy

It is an incredible honour to be your Alberta Pharmacists’ Association President for the 2022-2023 term. I am following in the footsteps of many outstanding Alberta pharmacy leaders that have pushed us forward. Since joining the RxA Board of Directors in 2017, one of my key learnings has been to better understand the interconnected nature of our healthcare system and what is required to enact change. RxA connects Alberta pharmacists to all facets, and it is important that RxA not only represents Alberta pharmacists but that Alberta pharmacists are united alongside RxA.

The last few years have been among the most challenging in recent history for front line healthcare providers. I am incredibly proud to see pharmacists step up to each challenge and bridge gaps. At a large scale, we have seen pharmacists provide immunization, triage, support chronic disease management, and navigate complex drug shortages through prescribing and critical thinking. Alberta pharmacists have professionally enjoyed our expanded scope of practice for many years, but both government and the general public have now recognized the important role that pharmacists play. With that said, there is so much more that we could do for the benefit of our patients and the healthcare system with some obstacles removed.

I strongly believe in RxA’s Leadership Cohort as a grassroots mechanism for change. The membership and role of the cohort should continue to expand because it has been successful on a number of levels. RxA created the Leadership Cohort to facilitate engagement across the province, share updates, provide guidance on key initiatives and gather feedback. The Leadership Cohort is also a mechanism to create alignment and knowledge translation across our profession. When elected officials and government hear the same message across the province, the impact is lasting and helps to focus change compared to many fractured messages.

In addition to grassroots engagement, RxA must look toward the future. Your RxA Board of Directors has proactively identified and explored emerging issues across the profession to provide a balanced perspective and plan. A strategic plan was created this past summer, defining many short term and long term goals, with many action items already in progress. An example includes the expansion of novel, targeted therapies that involve Patient Support Programs (PSPs) and dedicated pharmacies. Nearly every pharmacist has at least a few patients on one of these therapies, and the care provided to them is segmented. Based on pharmaceutical industry pipeline information, the list of therapies that will fall into this category will continue to expand and for disease states that are quite common. RxA created BioNavigate as a mechanism to educate pharmacists on this topic, provide tools so that they can care for their own patients, and potentially form partnerships that will allow pharmacists to take over the roles that PSPs have historically played. BioNavigate is one example of how RxA is taking action to prepare for the future, but the pharmacy landscape is quickly evolving with many driving factors.

Pharmacists in Alberta are diverse both personally and professionally. It does not matter rural vs urban, locally vs. internationally trained, hospital vs community; what unites us all is that we are pharmacists with a common goal and purpose. I hope throughout my term I can help to spread this message and that pharmacists from across the province can unite alongside RxA. RxA has developed and earned relationships with provincial leadership so that RxA leadership can be present and have a voice guiding meaningful change. The voice that comes forward must be that of a unified profession.  

Meet Brittany Zelmer

After graduating from the University of Alberta in 2005, Brittany continued developing her skill set by obtaining her injection certification, APA and Certificate in Travel Health. She worked as a relief pharmacist, staff pharmacist, manager and is now a District Manager for Sobeys, Safeway and FreshCo Pharmacies. Although she is no longer on the frontlines, Brittany continues to advocate for the profession through Sobeys National Pharmacy Advocacy Council and in RxA’s leadership cohort. She encourages and supports her teams to provide patient-centered care by using their full scope of practice.

What do I wish that people knew about RxA?

I wish that people knew all of the value that RxA brings to the table. They have been instrumental in negotiating the most robust reimbursement model for pharmacists in the country and that those negotiations didn’t come easy. With an expanded scope but no reimbursement for those services, the profession would not be sustainable. Membership is key to helping all pharmacists have a unified voice when we are at the table with government, and all pharmacists need to be engaged in advocacy efforts to further strengthen our position.

The greatest advice that anyone has given me related to pharmacy is

To not take things personally. To understand that many patients that lash out may be going through something that we are unaware of and to be patient, kind and listen.

You might be surprised to know that

I am a curler and was honoured to represent Alberta at the Everest Canadian Curling Club Championships last November.

Meet Randy Howden

As a pharmacist, what sorts of trends do you see?

I remember in university we were talking about patient care and care plans. When I graduated, we weren’t able (yet) to prescribe, adapt, renew, or inject medications. With our advanced scope of practice in Alberta, we have the privilege to support patients in all these areas.

I see pharmacists becoming an even more integral part of primary care and chronic disease management teams. I believe that in working collaboratively with physicians and other team members, we as a profession can help alleviate the primary care shortage now and in the future.

The greatest advice anyone has given me related to pharmacy is…

To find an area of practice you are passionate about helping people and pursue it. We can only learn so much from books and studying. At some point we need to learn by practicing and providing the service.

Don’t be afraid to start something new.

(I really like quotes. I collect them and share them. There are so many quotes from so many wise people)

My favourite quote is…

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou

Meet Cassandra Woit

Cassandra graduated from the University of Alberta in 2016 and went on to complete her MSc in Pharmacy Practice in 2019. Her research focused on prescribing competence and confidence in pharmacy and medicine. She has practiced in supportive living facilities and independent pharmacies, where she collaborated with physicians, nursing staff and patients to quickly expand her practice and knowledge to provide comprehensive pharmacy services. In 2021, a new opportunity presented itself, and she joined the pharmacy team at North Central CO-OP Pharmacy in Chappelle. She has been with this team for the last year and has been able to focus on the community’s needs while advocating for the profession.

A perfect day on the job… would be one where all medications were in stock, there were no problems with insurance, and I was able to help make a positive impact on my patients health.  

If I wasn’t a pharmacist… I would be a performer. My backup plan if I didn’t get into pharmacy was to audition to dance on cruise ships.

In my spare time… I can be found reading a mystery novel or working on a new crochet project. 

Meet Darren Erickson

I would like to comment on two trends I am witnessing at my pharmacy.  I am seeing some increase in the number of patients being forced to use pharmacy services outside of our present patient-pharmacist relationship.  This includes specialty pharmacies, mail orders or preferred pharmacies with arrangements made by your insurance company.  On the good side, I’m seeing lots of opportunities for point-of-care testing, initial prescribing and adaptation opportunities. These have existed in Alberta for over ten years, but I am noticing more pharmacists, physicians, and patients accepting the idea and looking into or suggesting these services. 

The best advice I have ever received… is to get involved in your career.  This means more than just arriving at work, filling Rx’s with services, and heading home.   Stay involved with ACP and RxA and you will notice your career becomes fuller and more exciting.  Consider sitting on one of the boards, and you will be able to share your ideas with your associations and understand their limitations. 

To expand on this, in life, it is important to enjoy what you do and to expand on those parts that you enjoy every single day.  This includes pharmacy, family, hobbies and relaxation.

Meet Aileen Jang

What do you wish other people knew about RxA? The history of RxA and the amazing things that have been accomplished!  So many pharmacists don’t remember what it took to get to this point where Alberta is the envy of all provinces and countries.  Before I became a Board member, I was like most; proud of being a pharmacist, buying a membership but not really knowing what amazing things RxA did.  It is always easiest to sit on the sidelines and comment or criticize.  Get involved in your profession, whether it be running for Board or participating on committees.  Pride in your profession and satisfaction in your career …………..guaranteed!

In my spare time I…I love to cook and have friends and family over to enjoy the fruits of my labor!  I do my best at gardening and have a posse of pharmacists willing to participate in the planting and harvesting.  I love to read, travel and meeting new people.  I love meeting pharmacy students whether it be through the mentoring programs, precepting or as an employer.  They keep me grounded and excited about new trends and initiatives.  

In life it’s important to…love what you do and the people you do it with.  Life goes by so quickly, it is important to have a great work / life balance.  I have truly been blessed with having so many wonderful people in my life, most of them are my pharmacy family.  A good friend of mine refers to this as our Pharmily.  Surround yourself with people who are supportive in your personal and professional life.

Meet Bruce Winston

What do you wish other people knew about RxA? I truly wish pharmacists in Alberta better appreciated how talented and hard working the staff at RxA are. It’s a relatively small but mighty team, lead by a CEO that any of the other provinces would love to have represent their interests. As I get closer to the end of my term limit on the RxA board, I am still astonished by the high quality output that is generated by such a small group and by the number of times Margaret and her team have managed to avoid potential disaster for pharmacy and pharmacists in Alberta through their actions on our behalf.

If I wasn’t a pharmacist, I would be… I am flattered by how many people have followed my blogging in the last couple of years. In most of their comments they tell me they really enjoy my writing style. So, if I wasn’t a pharmacist, perhaps I would become a more focused blogger or writer about the great things that pharmacists can do to provide care for their patients, especially in Alberta.

The greatest advice anyone has given me related to pharmacy is… Care comes before commerce. If you provide great care, then commerce should take care of itself. Al Chilton, founder of Rubicon Pharmacies, was very well known for espousing this type of stance. At the root of this, we are perfectly aligned, but as time marches on, I think it is vitally important for pharmacists across Canada to advocate with stakeholders for a sustainable financial model that will ensure the profession remains viable into the future.

Meet Jill Mason

My perfect day on the job would include… resolving every DRP for my patients, providing my pharmacy team with enough time to complete all of the tasks in front of them with a zero percent error rate, being allowed to administer publicly funded measles vaccine to help combat the resurgence of the disease, and also a lunch break.

If I wasn’t a pharmacist… I would be a wedding planner.

My favorite quote is… No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.  (Elenor Roosevelt)