On June 13, Waterloo Pharmacy instructor Elaine Lillie was recognized with the Association of Faculties of Pharmacies of Canada (AFPC) National Award for Excellence in Education. Lillie is Waterloo Pharmacy’s Director of Interprofessional Education and Curriculum Development and has been an instructor in the program since the School opened in 2008.
“Elaine’s contributions to the School of Pharmacy are numerous and impressive,” says Hallman Director David Edwards. “Building foundational communication skills in students, guiding curricular design, developing innovative courses, partnering with other health education institutions – these are key areas where Elaine’s leadership has enhanced our program and our ability to produce well-rounded and talented pharmacists.”
The award was bestowed at the annual AFPC conference – the largest gathering of pharmacy educators in Canada. It recognizes a pharmacy educator who has made significant contributions to pharmacy education.
“It is a tremendous honour to win this award and I am forever grateful for the privilege of working with such supportive and inspiring students and colleagues,” says Lillie.
When Lillie joined the School in 2008, she was responsible for developing a communications program to foster effective writing, presenting, and interpersonal skills in students. Today, Waterloo Pharmacy students and alumni are lauded for their communication abilities, and that success stems from the foundational courses and capstone symposium courses designed and taught by Lillie.
As the School’s first director responsible for interprofessional education, Lillie faced significant challenges. Interprofessional collaboration is an essential skill for pharmacists in the field: the profession relies heavily on sharing information and knowledge with other health care providers like physicians, nurses, social workers, and more. As director, Lillie had to develop programming to ensure Waterloo Pharmacy students saw this kind of collaboration modelled and practiced it themselves.
Accreditation requirements for pharmacy education also call for collaboration with medicine and nursing students. However, the University of Waterloo does not offer these programs. Thus, Lillie had to look outward to other institutions to build partnerships. Over time, she has established collaborations with McMaster University, Western University, Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University, and others. Now Waterloo Pharmacy students experience one mandatory interprofessional event, offered in tandem with partners, in every year of the program.
The AFPC award also recognizes educators who have made innovations in pharmacy education. Lillie has done this in numerous ways. As curriculum committee co-chair, she led the process of revising Waterloo Pharmacy’s program in 2013. The goal was to transition the school from offering a BScPhm to the new entry-to-practice PharmD. Less than 9 months after Lillie started conducting a best practice analysis, Waterloo Pharmacy began offering PharmD courses: the School’s ability to seize the opportunity and turn it to action is a testament to Lillie’s effective leadership.
Lillie has also led numerous projects to develop courses that fill important gaps in pharmacy education. Working in partnership with McMaster University, she developed a course to teach health care students about providing competent care to transgender patients and is now building an online professionalism platform for healthcare learners. Indigenizing Waterloo Pharmacy’s curriculum is also on her agenda. She has presented on these and other unique projects at numerous education and pharmacy conferences.
On top of all her accomplishments in programming and education, Elaine is a stalwart mentor to pharmacy students, both current and past. She has supported numerous alumni in returning to the School as instructors, helping them develop courses and supporting their efforts as course coordinators.