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Young Leader in Pharmacy Lori LeBlanc: " in Canada is being challenged and needs pharmacists to help bridge the gap in accessing care for Canadians."

For many years pharmacists have been known as the “pill counters” or “druggists” hidden behind the pharmacy counter, but the truth is pharmacists are a lot more than that and have proven so throughout the pandemic.
Lori Leblanc




B S Pharmacy, Université Laval, Quebec City, 2010

Executive MBA, Ivey Business School Western University, 2022

Current role:

VP, Pharmacy Services & Strategic Initiatives, Shoppers Drug Mart & Loblaw

What excites you about being a pharmacist?

The expansion of the pharmacist’s role and scope across the country. For many years pharmacists have been known as the “pill counters” or “druggists” hidden behind the pharmacy counter, but the truth is pharmacists are a lot more than that and have proven so throughout the pandemic. When our country was in crisis, pharmacists stepped up with their incredible response in vaccinating and testing Canadians during a time of need and their efforts helped keep Canadians safe and reopen the economy. Pharmacists have been known to be one of the most trusted and accessible healthcare professionals, and this reinforced trust and expanded awareness of the role pharmacists can play in providing access to primary care to Canadians has propelled the profession to new opportunities.  

How has your career evolved since your graduation?

After being an associate owner for Shoppers Drug Mart for 8 years and seeing the positive impact my team had on the community in which we operated, I wanted to grow and contribute across a broader scale. I absolutely loved the relationships that were developed with my patients and seeing the trust and confidence they put in me as a core member of their healthcare team. With that experience, I knew we could offer more, especially with the challenges we were already starting to face with accessing primary care providers in our region.

Fast forward to the pandemic, after being at our corporate office since 2019, we were helping support our associate owners through one of the most challenging times operating their businesses. I witnessed firsthand not only the commitment pharmacists had but also the resiliency in pivoting to providing Canadians frontline care that they badly needed.

All their hard work and efforts have enabled the profession to progress in ways that only I could dream about 10 years ago. I am fortunate to lead a team that helps support our pharmacists to provide the best and broader scope of patient care by enabling them with the proper digital tools, programs and training, to help ensure they are providing their patients the care they need, when they need it.

How important is mentoring in your career?

As an executive within our organization, I have been provided great mentoring opportunities and have been fortunate to have leaders invest in my growth and career progression. It Is one of my top priorities as a leader to provide those same opportunities to others. As the co-lead for Diversity Equity and Inclusion at Shoppers Drug Mart, one of our focuses is ensuring we have equity amongst our workforce and across our network of associate owners. As a profession that is female dominant, it is our collective responsibility to provide support and development opportunities for women to progress in their careers.

In 2022 and accentuated by the pandemic, as women, we still face barriers and I believe through leaders providing mentoring and sponsoring that we will help overcome some of these inequities we still face today. As a mother of 3 beautiful daughters, it is my goal that they are provided equal opportunities as their counterparts and the systemic barriers amongst us today are slowly removed through our collective efforts. As a believer in action, I hope making mentoring one of my key priorities will help directly contribute to a more equitable environment for everyone.

As a dynamic leader in the profession, what continues to drive you?

The current landscape of healthcare in Canada is being challenged and it needs pharmacists to help bridge the gap in accessing care for Canadians. The pandemic has highlighted some issues and we need to look at new ways to offer a more sustainable healthcare delivery for Canadians and that includes utilizing pharmacists to their fullest scope.

We have seen a recent increase in interventions required by pharmacists following medication reviews and care plans as many Canadians have been unmanaged through the pandemic. In addition, our pharmacists have recently begun offering point-of-care testing as an additional service for their diabetic patients.

With an increased number of retirements and difficulty in recruiting physicians, it is pharmacists’ time to play a broader role in offering primary care to Canadians. By sharing patient outcome data, we can help key stakeholders make decisions on increasing the scope and funding for pharmacists across different jurisdictions to provide primary care services like chronic disease management and initial prescribing (e.g., minor ailments).

Our focus continues to be on improving the delivery of care to Canadians and pharmacists are ready to contribute more. Everything we do and that our pharmacists are doing for their patients is centred around a purpose, a purpose to provide Canadians better healthcare. Ensuring that we continue to focus on “WHY” we are doing what we are doing will ensure better outcomes for all.

What advice would you give to new pharmacy graduates?

You are entering the profession during a time of need but also during a time of tremendous opportunity and excitement! Embrace your knowledge and expertise that you have gained and enter the workforce to offer Canadians the care they need and that you are trained to do.



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