Home » Innovations » Pharmacists Hold the Prescription to Health Care’s Future

Total health care spending in Canada is estimated to have reached $242 billion in 2017 with total drug spending estimated at $39.8 billion. With drug spending expected to surpass $50 billion by 2028, it’s clear that pharmacists, already key members of our health care teams, will have an even bigger role to play moving forward.

The 21st-century pharmacist

The modern pharmacist helps patients navigate an increasingly complex health care system, with the average pharmacy dispensing 54,350 prescriptions each year. With two in three Canadians over the age of 65 taking more than five medications, pharmacists are essential not just in helping patients understand and manage their medications, but in preventing adverse drug events. 

Pharmacists also provide a wide variety of patient-focused clinical activities, including comprehensive medication reviews, counselling, and administering vaccines. However, technology is rapidly changing the way health care services are provided and significant changes in population demographics have resulted in a surge in use of health services across the sector. As a result, the role of pharmacists is both evolving and expanding.

“Research-focused pharmacists are working on the best ways to provide patients with the highest level of care both in our current health care system and in the health care system of the future,” says Lisa Dolovich, a professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto.

Research-focused pharmacists are working on the best ways to provide patients with the highest level of care.

Lisa Dolovich, Professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy

The future of pharmacy

The Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy offers two distinct programs for students pursuing a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. The PharmD for Pharmacists program is designed for experienced pharmacists looking to expand their scope of practice. The undergraduate PharmD is an entry-to-practice professional program that delivers the skills, knowledge and experience required for aspiring pharmacists to become successful practitioners and leaders in healthcare.

Students in both programs are learning how to better understand the spectrum of patient care by building relationships with them as individuals. They are being taught the value of interpreting clinical information and are being prepared to be active in local health policy decision-making and as key members of inter-professional care teams. Most importantly, students are being encouraged to innovate and expand their horizons.

The Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy prepares students to become not only great pharmacists but also leaders of the profession.

Jakov Krezic, student in the PharmD undergraduate program

Pharmacy students making their mark

Recent PharmD for Pharmacists graduate Shellyza Moledina Sajwani was able to expand her horizons when she completed a rotation in Uganda. She reviewed the oncology pharmacy program for a hospital in northern Uganda that serves more than 300,000 patients per year. She worked with the hospital team to implement four recommendations, and her project received a merit award from the Canadian Association for Pharmacy in Oncology.

“The program provided me with the opportunity to apply my oncology pharmacist knowledge while also learning how pharmacy services could take place and be expanded in other countries,” says Sajwani

Students in the undergraduate PharmD program are also keen innovators. The unique program was integral in the creation of MedMe, a novel medication adherence platform created by students Jakov Krezic and Antony Choi, that aims to modernize the way people take medication. Conceived in The Hatchery, one of ten startup incubators based at the University of Toronto, MedMe takes a comprehensive approach to patient-centred care in order to meet the unique needs of patients and their loved ones.

“The future of pharmacy is full of opportunities beyond traditional medication dispensing, creating a landscape where new ideas and initiatives can be tested,” says Krezic. “This is why it’s so important that the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy prepares students to become not only great pharmacists but also leaders of the profession.”

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