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The other side of the counter

March 2, 2023
Deb Manz brings her perspective as a patient and a broader public view to her role on ACP’s Council.

When a representative from the Government of Alberta contacted Deb Manz to ask if she would be interested in being appointed to the Council for the Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP), she was eager to accept.

“I had submitted my resume to the government to let them know that I was interested in a public member role for a regulated health profession,” said Deb. “Joining ACP’s Council presented an opportunity to make a difference in an area of health that matters to all Albertans.”

The landscape of regulating health professions is not new for Deb. Before being appointed to ACP’s Council as a public member, she served as the CEO of the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors for 20 years.

Deb also has extensive experience representing and serving the public. She sits on a number of boards, including the University of Alberta Senate, the Alumni Council, and several other community boards.

Despite her busy schedule, Deb still wanted to get back to serving in the area of regulated health and she had a particular interest in pharmacy, both personally and professionally.

“I felt my participation would matter in a well-governed profession like pharmacy,” said Deb. “Also, I love my pharmacist – she has looked after me and my husband and has always been so personal and professional. She exemplifies the important role pharmacy professionals play to support the health of Albertans.”

Deb is one of seven public members of Council appointed by the Minister of Health. These public members serve alongside seven regulated members, including five pharmacists and two pharmacy technicians, who are elected by their peers. This 50-50 split between elected regulated members and appointed members of the public came into effect in 2021. Previously, there were three public members and nine elected regulated members on Council. The shift to equal participation emphasizes ACP’s mandate to serve, support, and protect the public. 

Deb explained that public members bring their personal patient perspective, while at the same time bringing a much broader perspective as a member of the public. Both the personal perspective and broader lens are essential for good governance.  

“The perspective of public members enhances and informs the governing process,” said Deb. “Public members can pose questions and start conversations that help the group look at situations from a patient’s perspective or from the eyes of the public.”

Deb said her perspective as a public member isn’t more important; it’s just different.

“It’s the collective of elected and public members that makes for success,” said Deb. “I’m not a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician, so I don’t have the same perspective as my elected colleagues. As a member of the public and a patient, I have a different lens.”

Deb explained that Council members’ diversity in backgrounds and expertise strengthens their decision making.

“Our Council members are an interesting group of people in terms of what they bring to the table,” said Deb. “My colleagues all bring perspectives that enhance the process and build a rich discussion.”

She said this diversity around the Council table reflects the diversity in the professions ACP regulates.

“Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians practise in different places and circumstances and situations across the province,” she said. “The professions are diverse, so having diverse perspectives at the Council table is helpful.”

Deb emphasized that there are no shortcuts in regulating health professions. For each decision, Council must look to the future and understand the impacts for regulated members and for patients. As a public member, Deb brings her expertise as a leader and her experience as a patient to contribute to making the best decisions possible for patients across Alberta.

“As a member of the public, I’m on the other side of the pharmacy counter,” said Deb. “I always ask myself, ‘How will this decision impact me as a patient and how will it impact patients like me?’”

Deb has recently been reappointed for an additional term on ACP’s Council by the Minister of Health, which means she will continue to serve in her role as a public member until 2025.