AJP chats with Dr Janet Sluggett, PSA’s SA/NT Pharmacist of the Year
1. Where and when did you graduate in pharmacy?
I completed a BPharm(Hons) at the University of South Australia in 2005, and my PhD in pharmacoepidemiology was conferred by the University of South Australia in August 2014.
I also undertook a Graduate Diploma in Clinical Epidemiology with the University of Newcastle concurrent to my PhD.
2. What is your current role/s and how long have you been there for?
I’m a Research Fellow (0.8 FTE) at the Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, Monash University, contributing to the NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre, which focuses on improving the lives of people with dementia.
I started this role in November 2015 after returning from a four-month Endeavour Research Fellowship with Kaiser Permanente, a large health maintenance organisation in the United States.
Since 2010, I’ve been employed as a professional services pharmacist (0.2 FTE) at CPIE Pharmacy Services, an innovative South Australian pharmacy, and I’m also an accredited pharmacist.
3. Tell us more about your work.
My research focuses on generating new evidence about the safety and efficacy of medicines in older people. This involves working collaboratively with large teams of researchers, consumers and carers, aged care providers, pharmacists and other health professionals.
Some of my research involves analysing and interpreting ‘big data’, including de-identified information about medicines dispensed by community pharmacists. My research also involves developing and implementing strategies to support clinicians to reduce the risk of medicines-related harm, particularly in residential aged care.
At CPIE Pharmacy Services, I am involved in optimising the provision of community pharmacy, aseptic compounding and hospital pharmacy services, and I contribute to the development and commercialisation of an innovative new ambulatory infusion device. I also collaborate on a large $1.1 million multidisciplinary project to improve the safety of antibiotic infusions administered to South Australians in their own homes.
4. What are some of your biggest contributions to this field so far?
I really enjoy working collaboratively and, in a unique partnership between Monash University and Helping Hand Age Care (a South Australian aged care provider organisation), I am embedded within Helping Hand two days per week. Being based within Helping Hand has been a really valuable experience and has enabled me to work closely with residents, family members and staff.
This collaboration has informed the development of the Medication Regimen Simplification Guide for Residential Aged Care (MRS GRACE). MRS GRACE is the first validated tool to assist pharmacists to determine whether the medications prescribed to a resident can be consolidated. I anticipate our manuscript and short video describing MRS GRACE will be available from the Clinical Interventions in Aging journal website within the next couple of weeks.
In my role as an embedded researcher, I currently lead a cluster randomised controlled trial across eight Helping Hand residential aged care facilities to reduce unnecessary medication complexity, known as the ‘SImplification of Medications Prescribed to Long-tErm care Residents’ (SIMPLER) study. The intervention for the SIMPLER study involves a pharmacist applying MRS GRACE to identify opportunities to simplify medication regimens for participating residents. The early findings from SIMPLER study have been positive and the project has now been expanded to involve clients receiving aged care services in their own homes.
5. If you could share your best piece of work-related advice to your fellow pharmacists, what would that be?
I think pharmacists can play a really important role in identifying opportunities for improvement in our health care system and being part of the solution. If you think that something can be improved then I’d encourage you to find a way to make this happen! This might be through implementing and evaluating small changes in your own workplace, or contributing to committees, working groups or professional organisations.