An interview with Marlys LeBras, PharmD, a clinical pharmacist with RxFiles Academic Detailing Program.
by Winnie Ho, Program Coordinator
Winnie: Thank you for speaking with us today Marlys! Can you tell us a little bit about your work with the RxFiles Academic Detailing team?
Marlys: Absolutely! I’ve been with RxFiles for just over 4 years as an Information Support Pharmacist doing both frontline academic detailing as well as co-leading various academic detailing training sessions, with the most recent being this past April. Our program covers Saskatchewan, Canada, but our website, app, and book are used outside of the province and Canada as well.
W: RxFiles is definitely one of the larger and more established programs we’ve had the honor of partnering with through the years. Can you tell me how maintaining the daily operations of your program have been impacted by COVID-19?
M: One of the bigger things that’s changed for our team has been moving our academic detailing training sessions online for our team of 12 detailers. We had to shorten our two-day in-person training, and shifted to hosting shorter sessions and offering more pre-training day and post-training day webinars to cover all of the content, including “how-to virtually detail”.
W: No matter how well virtual substitutions are planned, it’s not the same as being together. We’re all really missing our colleagues, and it’s heightening a sense of isolation. How do you think your team has adjusted to moving the training online?
M: I think our team adjusted quite well to the training adaptations. We were able to give them enough notice about the shift. What came out from training days is that our team members really do miss being in-person and having that social interaction – even the chit-chat in between sessions. For in-person trainings, we typically have time for a team-building activity in the evening where people catch up. We’ve been trying to incorporate more games and fun into our virtual training to have that social aspect. Personally, I really miss debriefing with colleagues in-person after detailing visits.
W: It seems like keeping the team connected is a big part of your team culture. How has your team stayed connected through the pandemic?
M: We typically do a roundtable at the mid-point of a detailing topic. We typically go around and share a little bit about our detailing experiences. Pre-COVID, no one wanted to turn on their cameras. It was never a requirement, but now everyone is turning them on. It’s been really nice just seeing people’s faces. Also, one of the things that’s been nice about going virtual is that we are able to open up staff meetings and invite more detailers to participate with us. We would have never been able to do that as easily in person.
W: We’ve seen opportunities like these spring up as teams need to be particularly innovative under tough circumstances that prevent in-person connection. Speaking of teams, dream teams don’t come out of nowhere. A lot of work goes into creating and maintaining a strong, positive, and connected team. At NaRCAD, we talk a lot about what makes a good detailer, but what are some of the hallmarks of a strong detailing team?
M: Team work is a really interesting thing to dive into. I reflected on this question, and think that a strong detailing team supports one another. That support can be helping each other out in the detailing session itself (e.g. co-detailing), or through communicating with each other about the providers we serve and in between detailing sessions (e.g. a prescriber moved from one detailing area to another). We want the team to be successful in moving towards our goals together. Another thing that COVID brought to my attention is that a strong detailing team also has a positive attitude. I really feel that during our transitions, everyone has been really positive and embraced the changes.
W: You’ve shared a lot of examples of how your team regularly communicates at various points during a detailing campaign, which shows a culture of checking in and making sure no detailer is left out. Can you speak a little about how that culture’s been built up at RxFiles and how you maintain it?
M: I think Loren Regier, who is in charge of Projects, Transitions and Training, has been such an asset in the development of our program, has really emphasized checking in. He really showed us the value of that, and not only does he talk about it, he has made it very easy for someone to approach him and talk about how the detail went, both the successes and challenges.
W: Having access to mentorship, and making sure a team-based approach is emphasized by leadership is key. It’s clear that the RxFiles team is doing well in adapting to these challenges faced by so many detailing teams. Maintaining positivity and seeing challenges as opportunities for growth is something that’s critical for teams to continue to have an impact.
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Marlys LeBras is a clinical pharmacist with the RxFiles Academic Detailing Program at the University of Saskatchewan. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at the University of Saskatchewan, her Hospital Residency with the former Regina Qu’appelle Health Region, and her post-graduate Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree at the University of British Columbia.
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