Dr. Christine Landry on the expanding role of the pharmacist

Faculty of Medicine

By Michelle Read

Writer, Faculty of Medicine

A professor assists two pharmacy students
Director Dr. Christine Landry shares her vision for uOttawa’s new PharmD program, set to train bilingual pharmacists to contribute to the heightened need for pharmaceutical care within French minority settings.

Dr. Christine Landry is excited to train students to respond to the growing responsibilities of the pharmacist in the health care field.

Dr. Landry was recently appointed director of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine’s new Doctor of Pharmacy program, gearing up to welcome its first cohort of student in September 2023. She was also named director of the program’s professional accreditation.

Amidst the changing landscape of health care in Canada, the scope of a pharmacist’s practice is expanding beyond an already challenging slate of duties. Add to this a shortage of services available to French minority communities, and the undergraduate PharmD program was born, offering an innovative curriculum to train bilingual pharmacists who can integrate into the complex interprofessional health care field and address the lack of pharmaceutical care and services in francophone minority communities.

Dr. Landry took time from her role as assistant professor in the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine, as well as clinical pharmacist at Hôpital Montfort, to share her vision for the highly anticipated—and much needed—PharmD program.

Dr. Christine Landry

“There is a major shortage of staff in the health care field, [and] there’s an even more critical shortage of professionals who can provide care in French in a minority setting.”

Dr. Christine Landry, director of the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine PharmD program

What is your vision for the Faculty of Medicine’s new PharmD program?

To be named director of the newly created Doctor of Pharmacy program is both a real honour and a great challenge. We have a fantastic team that has been working on curriculum development for the past four years. My vision for the program is aligned with the team’s vision from the beginning: that each graduate of the University of Ottawa PharmD program be a bilingual pharmacist who communicates effectively with members of his or her French-speaking minority community to provide personalized care and contribute proactively to health services as a health care professional.

We’re seeing intense staffing and funding crises in primary care—how will the Faculty’s PharmD program address this?

There is a major shortage of staff in the health care field, and this is greatly affecting pharmacists, particularly in community and hospital settings. There’s an even more critical shortage of professionals who can provide care in French in a minority setting. The Faculty of Medicine has demonstrated leadership, social responsibility and a remarkable commitment by expanding training and developing this new pharmacy program. Training pharmacists who are ready to practice in interprofessional collaboration in our health care teams will help address the currently overloaded health care system.

How will the program guide learners in understanding the expanding role of pharmacists in health care?

Our graduates will be prepared to practice within the expanded scope by practicing, for example, for certain minor conditions listed in Ontario from their first year of training. It is essential for our students to understand their responsibility in the health care system and to proactively demonstrate their role as health care professionals. The pharmacist is often one of the first health professional a patient contacts with a health problem, and their role in this "triage" assessment is essential to properly direct patients in need of an immediate consultation.

Why is there a shortage of pharmacists in francophone minority communities?

The reason for the lack of pharmacists who can provide services in French is multifactorial. The data shows that the two programs currently offered in French in Quebec are highly coveted and competitive, resulting in a limited number of spots available to train Francophones outside of Quebec.)

Why is it important to you to observe Mois de la francophonie?

Actually, March is both Mois de la francophonie and Pharmacy Appreciation Month. To me, the combination of these two aspects is all the more integral in raising awareness: of the importance of actively offering care in French, and of the essential role that our pharmacy teams play in the health care system. Whether you’re a doctor with a question about a medication or a new treatment, or a patient with a fear related to vaccination or a concern about a new symptom, your pharmacist is there to answer you. In March, we take the time to say thank you to our pharmacist, and we practice actively offering care in French by starting with a "Bonjour, hello" as we deliver that health care.)

Read a 2020 interview with Dr. Christie Landry.

Visit Dr. Christine Landry’s Twitter account.

Check out the PharmD program on LinkedIn.

Consider supporting the University of Ottawa

The Office Of Francophone Affairs At The Faculty Of Medicine Fund was created to provide financial assistance to Franco-Ontarian students enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine whose education would otherwise be compromised.