Pharmacy Leader Annette Robinson: "You need to step out from behind the pharmacy counter."
By Pharmacy U
B.Phm., University of British Columbia, 1984
Became a Certified Diabetes Educator in 2001
Medtronic insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring trainer 2005
Regional Pharmacy Manager for Pharmasave West
CPhA Board Member
BCPhA Board Member & President
BCPhA Nycomed Magnus Opus Award Winner for Advanced Learning 2010
Rexall Pharmacy Excellence in Patient Focused Services for Canada 2011
When you graduated, what did you envision for your future?
I graduated in 1984 so pharmacy looked a little different back then. Today there are many more career choices for pharmacists. My aspirations were similar to today’s graduating pharmacy student: I wanted to make a difference in the lives of my patients. I enjoyed working directly with patients and using my expertise to improve their health outcomes. I wanted my practice to be centred in BC and envisioned myself providing patient care in a community pharmacy setting. I pictured my work setting to be a place where patients would feel comfortable enough to drop in to chat, visit, fill a prescription and receive drug information. I feel that it is so important to build a rapport with and really get to know your patients. You need to step out from behind the pharmacy counter and to truly care about your patients. I wanted to be the reason that they continued coming to my pharmacy. Though I achieved much of what I envisioned, my career has taken me places I could never have imagined as a young graduate.
How has your career evolved since you first started in the profession?
I worked as a regional relief pharmacist and in many different pharmacy settings when I first became a licensed pharmacist. I enjoyed working with the public and as a part of a pharmacy team as a staff pharmacist. Six months later, I was offered a job as a pharmacy manager where I continued to gain the necessary skills and training to become very comfortable in the pharmacy manager role.
One of the wonderful qualities of pharmacy is how very adaptable it can be. While my husband and I were raising our children I returned to working as a staff pharmacist, then when they were older, I returned to full-time work as pharmacy manager.
Throughout my career I have had a particular interest in diabetes care. I decided to pursue a Certified Diabetes Educator designation, which I achieved in 2001. I used this designation both at my community pharmacy and later in my career working with The College of Pharmacists of British Columbia to explore pharmacist credentialing and with the Canadian Diabetes Association in an advocacy role. Several years ago, I accepted a position with Pharmasave where I presently work as a regional pharmacy manager and where I use my patient care expertise and business experience to support independent pharmacy owners in BC.
I have learned that the only thing constant is change and this is very apparent within the pharmacy profession. When I first became licenced, a pharmacist’s work was more technically centred, but gradually with change in scope, licensure of Regulated Pharmacy Technicians, and new technology, the pharmacist’s role has become more clinically focused on drug therapy decisions.
Looking at your career, what are you the proudest of? What have been some of the highlights of your career?
I was very proud to become a pharmacy manager very early in my career and at that time that I was one of only a few female pharmacy managers. Other memorable moments include becoming a Certified Diabetes Educator which allowed me to be recognized by peers as a diabetes expert and becoming a certified Medtronic Insulin and CGM trainer. I was also honoured to win two awards, the Nycomed Magnus Opus Award from the BCPhA, in 2010 and the Excellence in Patient focused Care for Rexall Canada in 2011. My most recent achievement was to be elected as a BCPhA and CPhA board member and being elected as the BCPhA president for 2021.
What advice would you give to new female pharmacy graduates?
The greatest advice I could give is to remember why you chose this profession. Remember the power you have to help save lives but also remember to take care of yourselves and take care of each other. Don’t be afraid to get involved even if that means stepping outside your comfort zone and consider saying yes to all opportunities no matter how small they may seem. This is a great way to network and quite often leads to additional opportunities you may never have suspected. Get involved with our professional bodies and pharmacy committees where you can advocate and drive the policy change that you want to see. We need women pharmacy leaders to bring our perspective to the table and drive change that allows women to continue to advance to more senior roles when their skills warrant.