It was one of the pinnacle moments of his professional career and, as it turns out, one of the most emotional.
Calgary community pharmacist Brad Couldwell was installed as president of ACP Council three weeks to the day after his daughter, Grace, was diagnosed with leukemia. As Brad addressed the gathering at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton, the emotions hit him, particularly as he talked about his experience in the health care system as the parent of a sick child.
“At one point, I was barely keeping it together,” said Brad. “I was looking down at my notes and was barely able to see the words because of the tears in my eyes. At one point, a tear dropped directly from the centre of my eye onto the sheet of paper. I was then able to see more clearly. It was like a release to move forward with the rest of my message.”
An important message it was. Brad encouraged pharmacy technicians and pharmacists to appreciate the position they have in providing care.
“To be involved with the people in our community who come to us every day, no matter what practice setting we’re in, is truly a gift,” he said. “These people are opening the door and saying, ‘Come in. Here I am.’ That gift as a pharmacist, for me, is precious. We need to treat it that way. When pharmacists and pharmacy technicians make a strong connection to the person in front of them, it changes that person’s ability to move forward in their health journey. We need to focus on that gift and enhance it.”
Another focus for Brad will be to explore ways to achieve ACP’s strategic goals, by concentrating on local issues, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach.
“It’s easy for us as Council to focus on complex solutions to global challenges,” he said. “The more time I’ve spent with Council and listening to those with more experience, the more I believe it should be about providing simple solutions to local problems. We need to continue to focus on individual communities. We need to empower individual practitioners to find local solutions so they are able to improve the health of their communities.”
Outgoing president Taciana Pereira believes Brad’s commitment to pharmacy practice comes from his passion.
“Brad is all-in,” said Taciana. “When Brad debates issues in Council, you can hear the passion in his voice. He’s always focused on what’s best for our professions and how we can keep moving forward. He challenges Council members to think about how we can best meet our communities’ needs.”
Encouraging fellow Council members to push ideas that are relevant to their own districts and bring their own unique perspectives to each agenda item, says Brad, will help find those local solutions.
“It’s so often about the search of what’s best for everyone,” said Brad. “I’m firmly convinced now that search lies within the individual practitioner in their own unique environment. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have the solutions. We need them to continually pursue what’s the best fit for their community.”
Brad officially began his one-year term on July 1. He’ll preside over his first Council meeting as president in October.