End the negativity about pharmacy

end the negativity about pharmacy: Taren Gill

Negativity about pharmacy amongst young pharmacists is misplaced, writes PSA Young Pharmacist of the Year Taren Gill

It’s an exciting time to be a young pharmacist in Australia: every problem we may encounter is an opportunity for a solution. Many new pharmacists speak to me about the negativity in the industry and I remind them that positivity is a choice – the amount of negativity we are hearing is comical and indicative of people who see change as a bad thing.

Across my relatively short career I have seen a gap between what we think patients want and what they actually want. The simple secret to getting anywhere in pharmacy is to listen closely to your patients. Pharmacists are not only medicines experts but also relationship experts – the relationships with our patients, with the government via the Guild, and other health professionals especially doctors are why we are so trusted.

Pharmacists have a huge opportunity to find out what new services can emerge from these relationships. What are our patients and customers of the future telling me now that they need from me, that my entire profession doesn’t currently do?

In an age where every patient is an expert on their health thanks to the internet, how can we package the information we provide as “insight” rather than merely repeating what can be found on the web? How do we educate our patients with knowledge that it is relevant and tailored to every individual, and see a monetary return for that? Workplace health and wellness solutions are an area that no other health professional does well and pharmacy most definitely could by providing health check days, flu vaccinations, weight loss programs and smoking cessation programs.

There are many areas in pharmacy that I believe could be included in the 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement. I have extensive experience in aged care and find it distressing to see aged care facilities serviced so badly by local pharmacy on many occasions.

If pharmacies had to engage in special accreditation just to have the right to provide medication supply to a RACF, perhaps they would need to invest more in the endeavour and not be allowed to be sloppy in their approach, and with PBS price reduction rendering these services not as financially viable, a weekly packing fee from the government for aggregating medicines for the most vulnerable in our community, the aged, is important.

Pharmacists who spend time and money doing a post-graduate specialisation should have their skills and service subsidised by Medicare for their detailed screening in pharmacy and working with medical specialists to provide a cut-above service to that unique patient. This would lead to better health outcomes and less hospitalisations, particularly for chronic disease states.

Let’s help keep people in their homes in the community for longer. The taxpayer should be parting with money for proven outcomes: an example of monitoring the legitimacy of a Health Outcome Fee Payment may be submitting a HbA1c report before and after a pharmacy has worked with a patient, which would provide even more evidence to the government that pharmacy should be in the hands of pharmacists.

I would like to see us clinically equipped enough to do continuance supply and have prescribing rights on a range of medicines enhancing compliance of our patients, and a Medicare consult fee for S3 consults as detailed information collection-and-advice sessions is going to be an important feature of pharmacy to prevent further strain on GP’s.

Pharmacies who don’t meet the minimum advice standards should be stripped of the right to provide Pharmacist Only Medicines till they deliver the service as intended.

The scope of practice for pharmacists into the future is wide and varied with plenty of opportunity for us to innovate and find operationally efficient ways to provide our health services and advice. Regardless of our place of practice we should be building better pharmacies to help our communities and trying new initiatives to ensure sustainability.


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  1. United we stand

    Hard to stay positive when my girlfriend earns more money than me selling headphones @ JB Hifi.

    My dear friend, Taren Gill, although I admire your positivity, the reality is quite the contrary. Once you worked 8 years full-time earning $25.80/hr without ever receiving a raise or a bonus, because the price disclosure, pharmacist oversupply, ever-reducing pharmacist salary, blah blah blah…you realise the negativity amongst your colleagues was valid after-all.

    Sad thing is when I was planning on doing Pharmacy, pharmacists used to earn $40-$45/hr, housing was far more affordable, rent was lower, transport was cheaper and saving up to own your own pharmacy was not a pipe dream.

    God forbid if Guild and Chemist warehouse get their way and get rid off the minimum wage and penalty rates all together, we’ll be in an even bigger mess.

    • Mary

      The Guild ,what a spineless self serving bunch they are and always have been.
      Pharmacy is going down ,the guild deal with chemist wharehouse which are destroying the profession.
      The guild wants wage reductions for pharmacists!!! And then put on the sob story because of the latest negative press.
      The industry has a facade of being caring and wonderful yet somehow organisations like chemist wharehouse have two guys owning hundreds of pharmacies that care about their bottom line and nothing else .Meanwhile new pharamacists have no work or earn a pittance .
      Play the money game and then bitch about supermarkets maybe getting pharmacy.
      Can’t have it both ways .
      Guild are a joke .
      Pharmacy owners would turn on each other in a second no solidarity at all ,cut throat and therefore no strength to stand up to the destruction of the profession .
      The AMA would never let doctors cop what’s happening to pharmacy.
      Time to sell headphones buddy .

  2. Jon Coleman

    You are young, give it time and you will soon begin to see that all the negativity is justified!

  3. Peter Smith

    When you study for 5 years and get paid $25 what’s there to be positive about?

    I love it when the guild, PSA etc have these awards patting themeselves in the back, yet dont know how the real workforce feel.

    Edited [defamatory]

  4. Kate

    We are the only group of healthcare professionals where those who are supposed to lobby on our behalf continually stab us in the back. The Guild have all the money, and all the lobbying power. The PSA, as lofty as their goals are, have no negotiating power in terms of wages or services. The Guild tell us time and time again how we should all be proud when they negotiate a new CPA promising more funding for professional services, all of the funding for which goes to owners, not to the pharmacists on the coal face. The worst of it is, we are demonised by consumers who assume everyday pharmacists are the ones trying to rip them off – hence their reluctance to trust us when it comes to generic substitution, or the sale of supplements and herbal remedies that we do not necessarily support. We should be represented by the PSA, not the Guild, and the distinction between the two should be made clear.

    At this point, I’m almost for deregulation in order to unite the industry and lend us more power as individual pharmacists. I hate where the industry is going and I hate that had I quit school and become a manager at Coles I would make more than I do now, with far less professional responsibility and a board to answer to. The kinds of decisions we make and the training we undergo means absolutely nothing to owners, customers, fellow health professionals and our own back pockets. I love my job, but I’m sick of being considered either a shill or a lackey. Good luck Taryn, you’ll need it. Im sure your employer’s income from all the extra services you work hard to provide will boost your income enormously in the coming years. Or not.

    • United we stand

      Couldn’t say it any better. I really hope new graduates and Pharmacy students are reading these valuable statements. For many of us it’s too late already 🙁

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