Congratulations to Dr. David Gardner (College of Pharmacy and Department of Psychiatry) who was awarded the Canadian Pharmacist of the Year Award for 2012 by the Canadian Pharmacists Association. This prestigious award recognizes a pharmacist who demonstrates leadership and exemplifies the evolution of the pharmacy profession toward an expanded role in health care. Dr. Gardner received the award at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Pharmacists Association in Whistler, BC in early June.
Dr. Gardner is acknowledged as a trusted and respected teacher, researcher, clinician and advocate for mental health. He is constantly striving to increase the role pharmacists play in the lives of those with mental illness. He has been an educator and mentor to a wide range of learners and has been awarded six excellence in teaching awards, local and national, since joining Dalhousie University in 1997. Dr. Gardner has been an integral part of the teaching curriculum with both the College of Pharmacy and Department of Psychiatry. In the College of Pharmacy, he is recognized for his passion and consistent excellence in teaching the undergraduate mental health and psychopharmacology content, which includes a contract-based anti-stigma session. Collaborating with colleagues across the country in a randomized trial, this session was recently found to significantly improve negative attitudes and stigma about mental illness by undergraduate students. Dr. Gardner is also recognized as a curriculum innovator with the development, implementation and evaluation of the undergraduate clinical appraisal series of courses. In the Faculty of Medicine, his teaching contributions are similarly highly regarded, among undergraduates and residents alike. Among his professional peers, Dr. Gardner is known as an excellent teacher who has developed and provided numerous local, national and international lectures, courses and workshops.
Dr. Gardner’s publication and research records are extensive and he strives to bring his research and similar pursuits back to key stakeholders in the mental health community. His knowledge and expertise have led to speaking and consultation invitations nationally and internationally. He regularly provides peer reviews of grants and manuscripts and has contributed professional texts and other practice tools. He practices clinically as a consulting pharmacist with the Nova Scotia Early Psychosis Unit (NSEPP) and provides other psychopharmacology consults, and in doing so mentors both pharmacy and medical students.
Some of Dr. Gardner’s most important work has been with local and national advocacy and support organizations. For over three years he worked with the Mental Health Commission of Canada in various roles and prior to that he was a member of the Canadian Collaborative Mental Health Initiative for its five year project. Locally, he regularly volunteers his time and support for mental health organizations, including Laing House and the Schizophrenia Society, determined to better the lives of those living with mental illness. “What we have been doing for these people and their families is simply not enough,” he says, acknowledging the serious gaps in care faced by those with mental health issues.
The award, he believes, “is in recognition of the important, but often under-appreciated role that pharmacists play in the area of community mental health.” Congratulations again to Dr. Gardner on his award – a very deserving honour – one he says is the result of “a lot of good fortune, being connected to the right people and having an unexpected, unrelenting passion for what you do.”