Overview: Loren Regier, a NaRCAD Expert Training Facilitator, joins us to reflect on nearly 25 years of his AD career, his experiences in learning AD for the first time, and his role in being a mentor to a new generation of academic detailers. Loren is a hospital pharmacist by training and has served with the RxFiles Academic Detailing Program and the Centre for Effective Practice, both longstanding Canadian AD programs.
by Winnie Ho, Program Coordinator
Tags: Detailing Visits, International, Program Management, Sustainability, Training
Winnie: We’re delighted to hear more about your AD journey, especially about the ways in which you continue to be a leader and supporter of the AD journeys of many others. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started in this field?
Loren: I was a hospital pharmacist doing a lot of work related to clinical decision-making, public speaking, and education. The Director for our Saskatoon Health Region (SK, Canada) had come across academic detailing from a colleague in Vancouver, and was interested in piloting something similar to what is now the British Columbia Provincial AD (BC PAD) Service.
Our region needed someone who would take on this project and build something from scratch. Only partly knowing what I was in for, I said “yes”. To train and learn more, I had the chance to shadow Terryn Naumann in June of 1997. Terryn was the pioneering solo detailer in North/West Vancouver. What was initially a 1-year project for us, became a 2-year, and then a 3-year project, eventually morphing into an ongoing AD service that expanded to cover our province of Saskatchewan.
W: That’s incredibly fortuitous that you had Terryn to turn to for help! We’ve gotten to interview her before at DETAILS and know that she was a trailblazer for AD across Canada.
Before I ask you about your experiences now as a mentor to others, I would love your reflections on your experiences as a mentee back in the days when you were learning AD as a new trainee with Terryn as your guide.
L: There are both good days and difficult days to think back to – it involved a lot of hard work, but I was fortunate to have an awesome mandate and the opportunity to see another successful service in operation.
Most importantly, I was able to see what a successful visit looked like. I joined Terryn for 7 visits over 2 days. After each visit, we reflected on how the visit went, what we liked, and if there was anything one might handle differently. The opportunity to shadow Terryn instilled in me the vision that academic detailing was about both relationship and service, and that clinicians could find both aspects valuable and enjoyable.
W: We do encourage a lot of new people starting AD for the first time to try and find someone to tag along with. You were especially lucky with Terryn because she had had a few years to build up her network and relationships in her community.
L: Relationships are key in AD – and witnessing those relationships and the resulting AD conversations – was educational and inspiring.
W: Is there a particularly strong piece of advice or a mentorship experience that sticks with you to this day?
L: One of the things I recall is that she said, “One day, when you have a tough visit, I want you to call me, because I’m one of the only people who will understand what you’re going through.” Well, the day came when I had to call Terryn and we were able to debrief on a challenge I had faced. That was a critical moment that served to propel me forward with greater insight and confidence.
W: You bring up something important – our work is focused on creating safe learning spaces for providers in order to enact change. What we’ve been able to expand on are the connections between individual members of the detailing community. Luckily, the field has grown and new detailers have many more role models and teachers to learn from.
Let’s also talk about this vulnerable moment, because it requires a lot of trust to go to someone when something goes wrong.
L: The mentorship process ideally involves deep, authentic discussions about being a detailer. Being a detailer involves constantly putting your best self forward. Trust allowed both of us to open up to each other with lots of safe space to discuss our different approaches and experiences.
Trust is essential for effectively exploring differences of opinion, and how to turn challenges into opportunities. Without it, you don’t get to understand where someone is coming from or to truly grow and learn.
In addition, I need to mention Frank May who also became valued mentor over the years. Frank helped pioneer academic detailing in Australia. His thoughtful conversations and leadership were instrumental in my growth in AD, as well as my eventual role in helping train and mentor new detailers.
W: I have definitely seen the large and small ways that mentorship has propagated through the AD community. In the process of learning and educating others in this field, we never truly stop being mentors or mentees – it’s not a binary. It’s a great lifelong process.
Let’s flash forward to now: given your experiences, how have you continued to integrate mentorship into your current work?
L: A big part of my role these days has been training, mentoring, and supporting others - both academic detailers and those who are moving into program leadership. It’s important to recognize that the world needs more people to do this kind of work and that we need to pass the baton. That involves coming alongside their journey, having good discussions, and being able to dig deep into those critical ingredients for success.
It has meant being transparent about my decisions and leadership so that my team can not only see how I’m thinking and processing things, but also provide their own input and ideas. Being a mentor to me means modeling the approach of learning together and working enthusiastically and collaboratively when pursuing opportunities.
W: You’re in a capacity now where you’re training future leaders in AD. You provide an important link and opportunity to reflect on where AD has been, but also the space to give new AD folks a chance to figure out where AD may go next. The people you mentor now will likely go on to mentor others, just as Terryn and Frank did for you. What advice would you give to those who are seeking to be strong mentors?
L: People can sense if they are respected and valued. If they know you care and are interested in their growth, they will open up, share the important stuff, and work together to address the challenges of academic detailing. If you add some fun and enjoyment along the way, the process serves as a model of what will eventually happen between the detailer and those they detail.
W: That’s wonderful advice, because one of the best things you can do for someone who is learning is to fully believe in their potential and strengths. They’re already a part of your team – they’re there for a reason.
L: Somebody once asked the coach for Bobby Orr, one of the greatest Canadian Hockey players of all time, “How do you coach Bobby Orr?” and the reply was, “You don’t coach Bobby Orr, you give him room to play the game.”
There’s some truth in applying that to leadership and in AD. You need to appreciate where your team members excel and empower them. It means coming alongside, supporting their input, and also giving them the freedom to make their own mistakes and learn from them. Give people the support they need to do best. They’ll show you what they’re capable of.
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LoLoren Regier is a Pharmacist and Consultant Editor with RxFiles Academic Detailing Service in Saskatoon, SK, Canada. Loren has guided the development of this provincial academic detailing service since the first “ground breaking” pilot project began in 1997. Loren is active as a member of the Canadian Academic Detailing Collaboration and provides training and consultation to various programs and initiatives. Loren’s interests cover the practical application of evidence to practice and the ongoing development of multifaceted interventions that support academic detailing. Additionally, Loren serves as a faculty facilitator for NaRCAD’s Academic Detailing Techniques trainings.
Loren is co-editor of the RxFiles Drug Comparison Charts – 10th Edition and a contributor/reviewer for Geri-RxFiles and the RxFiles – Bringing Evidence to Practicesection of Canadian Family Physician journal. Loren obtained his degree from the University of Saskatchewan, College of Pharmacy in 1988 which he followed with a hospital pharmacy residency. He serves as a lecturer, instructor and preceptor in the areas of evidence informed drug therapy decision making, educational outreach and chronic pain management in a wide variety of professional settings
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