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2017 M.J. Huston Pharmacist of Distinction: Ryan Abell


ryan abell
director, pharmacy services
central zone, alberta health services
red deer

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Ryan Abell, clinical pharmacist and Director of Pharmacy Services for Alberta Health Services (AHS), Central Zone, is the 2017 recipient for the M.J. Huston Pharmacist of Distinction Award.

When asked what excellence in pharmacy practice means to him, Ryan responds with, “On a daily basis, asking yourself, ‘what can I do to make a difference?’ and then following through on it.”

The AHS Central zone, in particular Red Deer Regional Hospital (RDRHC), is a leader in innovation and pharmacy practice and Ryan has played a large role in this. “I’ve always been that guy that asks a lot of questions and wants to understand the “why” behind current practice.  Invariably, that leads to rolling up the sleeves and looking for better ways to do things”, he adds.   This has resulted in a lifetime commitment to continuous quality improvement for Ryan.

Ryan finds it rewarding to champion quality and safety initiatives that ultimately affect so many more patients than he could have interacted with on a personal level. Maximizing the scope of practice for pharmacy technicians and assistants has been instrumental in reducing pharmacist time in the dispensary, enabling Pharmacists to focus on direct patient care as an integral part of the unit’s health care team.

Ryan recognizes that those providing clinical services only have a finite amount of time to provide care.  He believes that leaders need to work with those on the front lines to ensure that pharmacy’s value is maximized and understood by those who influence decisions. Ryan feels fortunate to practice in a province that is leading the way for pharmacist scope of practice and embraces this change with a strong focus and expectation that pharmacists have and use their Additional Prescribing Authorization to add value to patient care. Ryan reflects, “It is nice to see clinical pharmacy services expand and grow and know that you were a part of making that happen.”

Ryan’s leadership and vision for the value that pharmacists can add to patient care was pivotal in expanding unit-based pharmacist services at RDRHC. The hospital is among provincial leaders in providing comprehensive clinical support for inpatient and ambulatory units.  Nominator and fellow pharmacist, Stan Dyjur, says this about Ryan, “His greatest strength is his ability to motivate and inspire others. He recognizes potential leaders quickly, develops their strengths and supports them in moving forward and building on their successes.”