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Pharmacy leaders encouraged to apply for Fellowship in Health System Improvement

July 20, 2017

The University of Alberta’s School of Public Health is once again offering a Fellowship in Health System Improvement to take place over six weekends starting in September.

The professional development program is intended to increase your knowledge of health and health system performance, enhance your leadership skills, build your understanding of international health systems, and develop your ability to lead transformative change. The fellowship is aimed at current leaders or senior managers in health systems across Canada.

“Schools of public health are expected to have a role in improving the health system,” said Don Philippon, Program Director and Professor Emeritus. “We look at the health system very broadly, not just the care system. We look at all the determinants of health in a society, and that goes far beyond the traditional health care system as we know it.”

Don said there is a critical need in Canada for leaders who can bring about transformative change in the health system, not just tweaking at the edges, which is where most change seems to occur. That’s why the fellowship program takes a close look at health systems in other countries, specifically the U.K., Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand.

“Other countries are doing more radical things, more fundamental things, and making more dramatic change,” said Don, a former Deputy Minister of Health in Alberta. “We need a bolder approach to change in Canada. We look at the underlying ways of how our system is organized and how we can change it to have different outcomes both from a care standpoint and a population health standpoint.”

The program brings in an impressive roster of guest speakers. Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow, former federal Minister of Health Anne McLellan and former Alberta Minister of Health and Wellness Fred Horne all spoke at last year’s events.

Pharmacists encouaged to apply

Cheryl Sadowski, Professor with the Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta, is one of three pharmacists who participated in last year’s fellowship. Cheryl said the experience made her appreciate how broad the health system is and how we need people with other expertise, not just clinicians, to make it better.

And she felt it was important for pharmacists to be at the table.

“The way we work with teams and move between the publicly funded system and the private aspect in terms of delivery in community pharmacies gives pharmacists an advantage in challenging the health system and providing leadership to bring about change,” Cheryl said. “Because of our training and background, pharmacists understand how business ideas could help solve problems or address needs in the health system.”

Don hopes more pharmacists apply to take part in the fellowship this year, adding their input is crucial in the pursuit of meaningful change to the health system.

“Pharmacists are not involved as much as they could be in designing the system and yet they’re probably the most accessible health professionals people have to go to,” he said. “Pharmacists can play a much greater role in the overall system design and their knowledge is critical to do that.”

For more information on the Fellowship in Health System Improvement and how to apply, click here.


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