‘Pushing the boundaries of traditional pharmacist practice’: AJP chats with a Brisbane fertility pharmacist about her innovative role and what it involves
What is a fertility pharmacist, you ask? Well, that’s what AJP set out to discover when speaking with Brisbane pharmacist Kylie Neville, from TerryWhite Chemmart Arana Hills, who specialises in the niche area of fertility.
Here we find out what she does in her role and how she fell into this area.
1. What exactly is a fertility pharmacist and what kinds of activities does your role entail?
A large part of my role involves talking with patients who are undergoing fertility treatments and answering questions about their medications.
In addition to the supply of IVF medications, a fertility pharmacist is on hand to demonstrate how to use various injectable devices and accessories. For most fertility patients this is their first experience of injecting themselves, which can often be daunting.
Working within a community pharmacy setting provides convenient access for patients. For example, if their injection device fails on a Sunday, I am available to assist.
Many patients using fertility treatments will experience side effects. Providing advice on ways to reduce their discomfort is valuable to someone who may be quite distressed. Having knowledge of what other medications the patient can safely take and advising on these strengthens the rapport between patient and pharmacist.
2. How many hours a week do you spend on fertility services and do you continue to provide other community pharmacy services as well?
Around one-third of my working week involves all aspects of the fertility services we offer at the pharmacy. Stock control is important as many medications used in assisted reproduction are high cost and having adequate stock on hand is essential.
I am fortunate to work within a dynamic team that also offers a variety of other professional pharmacy services.
Pre-natal and ante-natal classes run by our registered midwife provide a perfect opportunity to collaborate, resulting in a wonderful “full circle” effect for patients.
I also work alongside Kasey, our credentialed diabetes educator/pharmacist, and Peter who is a Men’s Health Downunder consultant pharmacist. Our combined team approach leads to both excellence in patient care and provides opportunities for conducting everyday pharmacy services such as MedsChecks.
3. How did your career unfold to being in your current role?
Most of my career has been centred around community pharmacy. A few years back I began working within a private hospital pharmacy setting, and this is where I gained experience within a fertility clinic. It was a steep learning curve however the clinic nurses were very welcoming and encouraged me to sit in with patient consultations.
Self-education is essential as you may see medication combinations and dosages not usually seen outside of a fertility setting. In 2020 I joined my current pharmacy team, with the attraction being a community location offering specialised professional services.
4. What are you most interested about in the space of fertility? Does this also include men’s fertility, and what areas of women’s health do you also cover?
Assisted reproduction is an interesting field as it can involve a variety of approaches. I enjoy seeing the diversity of prescribing and treatment protocols by different fertility specialists. When I come across a dose or medication combination I’ve never seen before I am keen to learn more!
Men’s fertility is equally important and it is a subject not often mentioned. In the case of hormonal imbalances that affect sperm development, male patients may also be treated using hormone injections.
I am passionate about women’s health and in particular helping patients navigate the large amount of information regarding pre-conception, pregnancy, and post-natal supplementation.
5. Where do you see specialist pharmacist roles heading in the future – is there going to be growth in this area for community pharmacy?
As community pharmacy continues to evolve, I feel strongly that patient-focused services are integral in providing customer satisfaction.
Being part of Karen Brown’s (Terry Chemmart Arana Hills owner) innovative team provides the opportunity to push out the boundaries of traditional pharmacist practice. Suburban population growth suggests community pharmacies can be successful in offering more specialised solutions to patients in their local area.
There’s no doubt that taking on a speciality role leads to more career fulfillment and I would like to see more training and accreditation for speciality pharmacist positions.
You may be interested in reading our article ‘Get inspired’, where we interview pharmacists people in speciality roles covering mental health, women’s & newborns, antimicrobial stewardship and more