Can we safeguard pharmacy’s future?


With significant concerns around what the future holds for the profession, what can be done? asks Marc Clavin

With evolving customer relationship technology and a growing consumer demand for accessible and affordable healthcare, the future of the pharmacy industry is bright.

However, just how bulletproof our industry is now and will be into the future is a point of significant discussion.

A recent report by Professional Pharmacists Australia (2018 Community Pharmacists Report) aimed at lifting the lid on the future of careers and prospects in pharmacies, and concluded that many pharmacists were turning their backs on the industry; be that for low pay, inadequate training conditions or simply seeing no future in this rewarding profession.

The report comes at a key turning point of change in our industry. The avalanche of health advice and information available for our patients can, and often is, overwhelming and conflicted. Moreover, the parameters of our services are being questioned and assessed by our important customers and healthcare stakeholders.

When it comes to attracting and maintaining top talent in an industry amid such disruption, how can we safeguard the very future of our profession? How can we ensure our pharmacy’s suite of services are valued by the community such that remuneration for those services is expected?

It starts with a bold commitment. A promise from pharmacies at all levels to ensure our training and skills programs are second to none to give our future pharmacists the opportunity to be ingrained in what makes us unique in our fields.

That is to ensure we make it the lifeline of any pharmacy to offer accessible and holistic patient health solutions to attract top pharmacy talent – and, indeed, encourage young people to consider it as a profession from the outset.

Put simply, pharmacists are set up for success when they are given a more holistic view of their practice. Combining this with the opportunity to compliment healthcare skills with retailing and other fundamental disciplines, sets our pharmacies up for successful futures.

This is in addition to Clinical CPD and Dispensary Excellence Programs, such as the Amcal and Guardian’s Leadership, Engagement, Analytics, People and Physicals Program (LEAPP), which ensure we are offering a full suite of practice-relevant CPD each year.

At Amcal and Guardian pharmacies, the number of pharmacists choosing to join with our brands is increasing. This stems from not only the growth in young people seeing the challenging and rewarding role a vocation in pharmacy can provide, but also to the extent in which we strive for, and already adhering to, our industry guidelines.

A recent example of this being brought to life is through the LEAPP Dispensary Excellence program. Now undertaken by over 500 pharmacy team members, including 250 pharmacists, the LEAPP program trains our pharmacists and their teams to utilise their professional skills, specifically in relation to leadership, coaching and mentoring.

This program also involves the restructuring of their dispensary workflows and improvements to their general communications skills. Overall, these training modules help pharmacists in finding the necessary time and space to practice as they intended to – using their wealth of knowledge to improve the health of their local community. This program attracts talent and rewards them with meaningful career opportunities.

The results we have seen since introducing the LEAPP Dispensary Excellence program is phenomenal. In fact, 140 pharmacies across the Amcal and Guardian pharmacy network have improved parts of their in-store experience for patients.

Moreover, the program has also successfully supported enhancements in other areas, such as dispensary workflow efficiencies, pharmacist leadership, team culture and overall patient engagement and counselling.

Collectively, these benefits have resulted in improved patient health outcomes and pharmacy profitability. Notably, a LEAPP accredited pharmacy on average achieves a 3.8 per cent** prescription growth year on year compared to non-LEAPP pharmacies.

Last year at the PSA Refresher Conference industry analyst, Bruce Annabel, summed it up best, stating, “Amcal and Guardian are the only national banners that have developed and are implementing…a change management program that offers their pharmacists innovative practices that have the patient as the focus and not the process – this is LEAPP.”

Safeguarding the future of the profession starts and ends by building a strong base of professional services.

Coupling our suites of services available to the public along with comprehensive training programs which rewards and motivates our partners, we are confident the future of pharmacy will remain bright. We encourage members of the industry to join the conversation and mark a commitment to play their role in creating this future.

Marc Clavin is President of the Amcal and Guardian National Council.

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