Remembering Stephen Long (1957-2019)

It is with heavy hearts that we mark the passing of alumnus and PDW founder, Stephen Long (BSc 1981) on July 24, 2019.

06 August 2019

Steve Long graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy with the class of 1981. Along with classmates Barb Boulina and Camille Boulet, and with the support of Dean Dr. Gordon Myers, Long hosted the first ever Professional Development Week (PDW) which is now a proud legacy of our Faculty and students, with this year marking the 31st PDW.

Long went on to receive his MBA at the University of Calgary in 1990 and became the Director of Pharmacy at Rockyview Hospital. In 1995, he became the Director of Pharmacy for Calgary Regional Health Authority. An exceptional administrator, Long developed innovative pharmacy organization for the hospitals he worked in and made extensive use of pharmacy technicians. In 2008, he joined Alberta Health and Wellness. Here, he was a key contributor in the administration of drug benefit programs and guided provincial pharmaceutical programs until 2012.

Long was awarded an Honourary Life Membership at Alberta College of Pharmacy's (ACP) most recent Celebration of Leadership event for his commitment and contribution to pharmacy throughout his career. Before his passing, he was looking forward to attending the Alberta Pharmacist's Association's (RxA) meeting this fall to receive a prestigious award from the Canadian Foundation of Pharmacy (CFP) for his championing of the pharmacy profession and, ultimately, the health system.

He will be dearly missed.

Read Stephen Long's obituary here.

The History of Professional Development Week

The genesis of PDW came out of need. In the Spring of 1980, three third year pharmacy students were sitting in the Pharmacy Student Lounge contemplating their futures. Cam Boulet aspired to be Class President and was looking for a winning platform, Barb Bulina was a CAPSI junior and looking to do something remarkable as a CAPSI senior, and Steve Long was tired of listening to his engineering student roommate expound on the triumph that engineers had over Aggies during an Edmonton-hosted national engineering student conference.

Together, the three of them created a plan to host a national conference of pharmacy students and to co-opt the student body by getting Cam elected. The concept was simple: if engineers, aggies, and even commerce students could organize and put on national student conferences in Edmonton, then why couldn't pharmacy students accomplish the same feat?

The plan worked! Cam was elected, Barb was assigned the task of working through CAPSI to spread the word, and Steve was to organize and Co-Chair the event. They chose early January to host the first, and subsequent editions, of PDW. Barb used her CAPSI connection and their monthly teleconference, the Faculty and Dean Gordon Myers' support, and some faculty linkages with industry to help launch the concept of the event.

The first PDW would involve educational sessions with speakers, outside of the usual faculty members, speaking on topics of professional interest beyond the usual curriculum. Many of the presentations were donated by industry, with speaker and travel costs covered by sponsors. Social events were planned to support student interaction and allow everyone to gain insights into the student experience at other schools of pharmacy. A Friday night icebreaker, Saturday education sessions, and a Saturday night mixer were planned. Each visiting student group raised their own funds to travel and some money raised to create grants helped out as well. For accommodation, Edmonton-based students signed up to host visiting students for the weekend.

All events were held on the University of Alberta campus. Dean Myers provided access to lecture and common room spaces, and the Students' Union allowed the use of the Dinwoodie Lounge for the Saturday night party. Over 100 students came to Edmonton from across Canada!

The University of Toronto hosted the next event in 1982, and CAPSI was petitioned at the CPHA conference in Winnipeg in June of 1981 to embrace PDW as a legacy to celebrate pharmacy students and build on to the Centennial Scholar program.

In the 38 years since the first PDW, 31 PDWs have occurred, with over 600 pharmacy students converging on Edmonton in 2018 for the 30th PDW. PDW continues to provide students with the opportunity to meet their peers from other universities and learn more about the profession. The interprovincial interaction of pharmacy students creates an environment to encourage and develop the sharing of ideas and evolve pharmacy practice and education. It eliminates barriers to pan-Canadian thinking and helps advance pharmacy practice in the country.

PDW would not be what it is today without the contributions of Steve Long. He will be missed.