Portrait of Lisa McCarthy

Ontario Pharmacists Association award recognizes McCarthy’s impact in changing culture of medication use and deprescribing practices

University of Toronto researcher Lisa McCarthy has received the Ontario Pharmacists Association’s Exceptional Achievement in Research and Academia Award, for her work on deprescribing and medication management.

The award recognizes a pharmacist who has advanced the profession through academic research, and McCarthy accepted the honour at the association’s virtual conference on June 5.

“It’s an honour to be acknowledged by my colleagues for trying to make a difference in our profession”

“It’s an honour to be acknowledged by my colleagues for trying to make a difference in our profession,” said McCarthy, an associate professor at U of T’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and a clinician scientist and pharmacist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga. “It’s a sign that the small steps I take every day — in partnership with talented students, colleagues and patients — are culminating in a collective impact toward my goal of helping people get the most benefit from their medications.”

McCarthy’s research is directly aimed at improving pharmacy practice and patient care by improving medication management and optimization, and she has become a recognized leader in deprescribing, when medications are stopped or doses are reduced because they are no longer providing benefit.

Her work as co-lead on many initiatives with the Bruyère Deprescribing Research Team has changed medication management practices: organizations in Canada and abroad have incorporated the team’s research related to deprescribing guidelines into decision support tools and platforms for clinicians so that they have resources to help patients stop taking medications.

Government agencies have also used the guidelines in standards and policies.

McCarthy said that she is particularly proud of the group’s work to enhance deprescribing in long-term care homes, especially because they have successfully engaged so many stakeholders in the work. The research team has been consulting with a large group of patient and caregiver stakeholders as well as organizations in long-term care to examine how to change the culture of medication use in long-term care. That work continues to build momentum.

On top of her research program, McCarthy practices at Trillium Health Partners and sits on national and provincial committees related to pharmacy and medication safety. She is also a preceptor for PharmD students, research mentor for the pharmacy residency programs and graduate student supervisor.

McCarthy has supervised more than 50 students at all levels in the last 10 years.

“I’ve always supervised students as a way of giving back to the profession, but I also get a lot out of working with students,” she said.

“I think students make us better pharmacists. They challenge our thinking and push us in creative new directions.”

With a challenging career that touches so many aspects of the pharmacy profession, including students and patients, McCarthy said that she has many rewarding moments.

“I am a pharmacist who gets to teach others and study things that interest me and that can ultimately lead to improved experiences for patients,” she said. “Hearing accounts of how people have seen positive changes in themselves or a family member after stopping a medication is very rewarding.”

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