Mits Miyata has spent the past 16 years working to ensure that pharmacists and their expertise are fully integrated into all aspects of patient care and multidisciplinary teams.
Mits Miyata has spent 35 years as a pharmacist, supervisor, manager and director. But no matter his title, he’s always been a dedicated leader. So it may come as a surprise to learn he left his career to chance.
As a university student he had his heart set on becoming an engineer. Then he developed a friendship with a locker mate studying pharmacy who made it sound intriguing and convinced Mits to flip a coin – best two out of three – to choose his major.
The rest was history: a distinguished career in pharmacy which began with a 19-year stint at St. Paul’s Hospital and culminated in 16 years of innovation and mentorship at Fraser Health.
The irony is that when Mits decided to join Fraser Health, it was again due to a twist of fate.
“The same guy who talked me into going into pharmacy, talked me into going to Fraser Health,” Mits recalled of his locker mate, Bob Nakagawa, now the registrar for the College of Pharmacists of BC, who recruited him when he served as director of pharmacy for Fraser Health.
Mits has left nothing else about the way he works on pharmacy improvement up to chance. Since he joined Fraser Health in 2001, he’s been an advocate of bringing clinical pharmacists away from a strict dispensing role and toward direct involvement in patient care as part of multidisciplinary teams.
In 2004, he and the regional director implemented the Medication Management Program, doing extensive consultation with leaders and securing funding to launch a pioneering community health initiative which saw pharmacists working in Home Health.
As Lower Mainland Pharmacy Services manager, he was also involved in creating new pharmacy units, including the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre, where he helped establish a dispensary and outpatient clinical pharmacy services. In the new Surrey Memorial Hospital Critical Care Tower he helped found dedicated pharmacy services for neonatal and pediatric patients to improve infant medication safety.
“In clinical pharmacy you make a difference to the patient that is in front of you,” Mits explained. “In management you make a difference to many patients who aren’t in front of you.”
Mits is also known for his ability to boost morale and employee retention in struggling units, and his talent for mentoring pharmacists into new management roles. Employees speak fondly of the annual holiday lunches he hosts and the yearly ode to employees he writes to celebrate their achievements and personal growth. Mits sets an example for employees through his own personal growth pursuits: he is an endurance athlete who has challenged himself in multiple marathons, triathlons, ultramarathons and remote mountain treks over the years.
“He always works to encourage others to achieve their best, never looking for the recognition himself, but celebrating the achievements his employees attain,” said colleague Alison Alleyne.
“He is a firm guiding hand who has always shown compassion and graciousness to his employees,” agreed colleague Ray Jang. “He fans the flame of greatness around him.”
Outside of Fraser Health, Mits has served more than 12 years with the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada in executive roles, helping set a national standard for evaluating pharmacists, which has eased barriers to practicing in different provinces.
He has volunteered his time advising the BC Provincial Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and the Ministry of Health’s Drug Benefits Council, and has filled committee and council roles with the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists and the Society’s BC-branch, which honoured him with a Distinguished Service Award.
Yet Mits deflects his many achievements back onto his employees. “What I like about managing is being able to move people forward. I wouldn’t have been able to get anything done that was credited to me if it wasn’t for the employees. They don’t work for me, I work with them.”