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A pharmacist's journey – one year in

Who knew that in my 37th year post-graduation as a pharmacist, I’d still have so much I want to accomplish before my professional journey is complete? What an interesting year I’ve had. November 30th marked the one-year anniversary since the sale of Sandstone Pharmacies to Neighbourly Pharmacy. I don’t want to bury the lead but not one day have I regretted my decision to sell and join the Neighbourly team. I don’t miss dealing with lenders and landlords. I don’t miss the constant pressure of cashflow analysis and most of all, I don’t miss being the person always making the final decision.

I was ready to turn my attention to areas more focused on practice related issues.

I think it helped immensely that I picked the right partner to sell to in Neighbourly, and that I came into my new employment with a great attitude. I set out to do my very best to help successfully transition both the business and our Sandstone employees. I also set out to learn new things and get a different perspective from the bigger team I was now a part of, and I had a few projects I wanted to concentrate on that I didn’t previously have the time as an employer to fully dig into. Of course, it didn’t hurt that due to my highly competitive nature, I wanted to show that this old dog could still deliver value!

So, in this blog and my follow-up blog next week, I’ll provide a synopsis of how I’ve spent my first year as an employee at Neighbourly Pharmacy.

As anyone who has sold a business knows, it takes a few months to wind up the books and tax filings. It’s tedious work that must get done, but it was certainly not exciting work. Enough said about that!

I think I spent the first few months letting people know I was not retired. I told them I’m here to work, I’m here to help, and I still have a lot I want to accomplish before I hang up my spatula.

In past years with Sandstone, I annually acted as a preceptor to one fourth year UofA PharmD candidate who expressed interest in ownership or management. In 2022, I made a mistake in thinking I’d have plenty of extra time on my hands, so I agreed to precept three students (total of 24 weeks). Lesson learned! I will assuredly continue to precept students, but three students are too many for me next year. I can’t think of anything that keeps me as engaged in pharmacy practice as spending time with students. I feel enormous internal pressure to do everything I can to help them embark successfully on their careers, a career that has been immensely gratifying and rewarding to me. I’ll just have to rein it in a bit.

Early in 2022 I started to dig in on my desire to create a “Made in Alberta” solution for specialty pharmacy. The next phase of the Alberta biosimilar initiative was set for May 1, and I wanted to have the Alberta Neighbourly network of pharmacies ready. That also meant I needed to get our infusion clinic in Calgary ready to open. For sure it helped that my goal for specialty is completely aligned with the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association’s (RxA) mission. We are both striving for a system that is based on open and unrestricted access for patients to receive their specialty/biologic/biosimilar medication at the community pharmacy of their choice. Period!

You may ask, “Have you made any progress yet?” Watch for my blog next week and I’ll provide an update on specialty, along with letting you know what else I’ve been occupied with in 2022.



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