A warm welcome to our newest staff member, Pharmacist Ignatius Anane-Ansah, just in time for Pharmacist Awareness Month
In recognition of Pharmacist Awareness Month, we brought Randy Sloan and newcomer Ignatius Anane-Ansah together to discuss their experiences providing clinical care as pharmacists at the WBPCN, and also the changing public perception of their profession. "Ignatius is coming into the PCN environment with a fresh set of eyes," Randy enthuses, "I've been here for ten years, I'm very accustomed to working in our team environment, but the vast majority of Ignatius' career has been in a retail pharmacy setting. Right now, still acclimatizing to this change, he must have a very unique perspective."
Ignatius grins. Already, there are clearly differences in his daily routine that are striking. "I am able to sit down with patients, review all of their medications, and focus on their diseases and their quality of life," he explains, before punctuating the sentiment: "Not as the exception, but rather as the rule. With each and every visit, I feel like I have enough time to make a positive impact on their wellbeing. It's a different mindset entirely. In retail I was largely focused on turnaround, on pure efficiency -- quickly helping one customer in order to help the next -- whereas at the WBPCN I have large blocks of time to think about nothing but the patient's quality of life... not just the instructions and cautions associated with any one particular medication, but about their overall wellbeing. I have time to explore the other factors at play."
Randy nods and concedes that the novelty of practicing at the PCN has not entirely left him: "If anyone told me twenty years ago, when I was already ten years into my career as a community pharmacist, that there would be a day when patients would book appointments to see me... I would have laughed. Even today, the idea of going to see a pharmacist by appointment is still very new. But really, as pharmacists, we receive a large amount of training that is not immediately apparent to, for example, the average customer at a pharmacy. We're already understood to be experts in the medications used to treat chronic diseases, but our training also encompasses many other aspects of how to effectively help patients to manage these diseases. There is no way to extricate the pharmacist from the programming at the PCN, we are tightly integrated into the vast majority of our programs and services, especially when it comes to the care of patients with Diabetes or Cardiovascular Disease, which are both very pharmacotherapy-intensive."
Indeed, many people still tend to see pharmacists as dispensers of medications prescribed by a physician and counsellors on the proper use of that medication; however, at the WBPCN, Pharmacists Randy Sloan and Ignatius Anane-Ansah provide complex patient care that is quite different from what you might expect to see in a setting like a retail pharmacy environment:
- WBPCN Pharmacists are committed to providing optimal drug therapy outcomes for patients through patient-centered care.
- WBPCN Pharmacists care for patients with chronic diseases like Diabetes, and even initiate them on new medications in consultation with physicians, as both Randy and Ignatius have additional prescribing authority.
- WBPCN Pharmacists conduct the PCN's Smoking Cessation program.
- If you are taking multiple medications, WBPCN Pharmacists can conduct a medication review by evaluating the appropriateness and effectiveness of a patient's medication.
- WBPCN Pharmacists call on their clinical experience to solve health problems through the rational use of medications; in the process, they may renew and extend certain prescriptions.
Our conversation is interrupted momentarily as a registered nurse swings by to drop off a patient file for Randy's review, a reminder that our discussion is unfolding in an office in a busy clinical area teeming with activity. Ignatius gestures to the brief interaction between Randy and the RN and provides commentary: "This is such a dramatic shift. Working as a community pharmacist, you often feel as though you are on the fringes of the healthcare world. You really are on your own: even when you make a concerted effort to collaborate, waiting for a response from other providers can take days. Here at the PCN, I can just walk down the hall and immediately speak with a dietitian, or a respiratory therapist for their input in addressing specific health and wellness concerns as they arise."
The anecdote elicits Randy's memories from the early days of the WBPCN: "Even ten years ago, in the formative conversations that led to the inception of the PCN, that was one of our primary focuses: to improve access. In the community pharmacy setting, every time you attempt to transfer care to another discipline -- i.e. referring a patient to a dietitian -- you risk losing patients due to the amount of time involved. Being able to knock on the door of one of your colleagues during an appointment removes the burden from the patient. These interdisciplinary dialogues about a patient's care can unfold in a matter of minutes, in the presence of the patient, instead of over days or weeks. This is an extremely effective and fulfilling style of care delivery, both for the practitioner and for the patient."
"Our profession is still in transition," Randy continues, "more and more pharmacists are working in clinical settings, all the more so as PCNs in Alberta continue to evolve. This will culminate in the very near future with a new generation of pharmacists graduating with PharmD's (Doctorate degrees in Pharmacy); they will leave the academic world ready to do what Ignatius and I have spent years of additional professional development beyond graduation preparing for and acclimating to. I have spent the past ten years focusing on the provision of care to Type I & II Diabetics in a clinical setting, collaborating directly with endocrinologists, nephrologists, physicians, nurses, dietitians, exercise specialists, mental health therapists, and respiratory therapists. The stereotype of the Pharmacist is that of the pill-dispenser at a pharmacy, but that in no way resembles my work. Ignatius and I are pharmacists, but the way that we practice has not yet entered into public consciousness. That's changing, though: the profession is being redefined."
Pharmacists are an integral part of the WBPCN multidisciplinary team; patients from a wide range of our programs benefit from their care and unique expertise. We are delighted to formally welcome Ignatius Anane-Ansah to the WBPCN: to us, welcoming another highly-skilled pharmacist to our team is the perfect way to celebrate Pharmacist Awareness Month.