A prominent voice for advancing the role of hospital pharmacists, Erica Tong was voted by AJP readers as the ninth leading Agenda Setter in pharmacy

Erica Tong is a highly trusted figure in the hospital pharmacy setting.

She holds many roles at Alfred Health in Melbourne, concurrently Chief Pharmacy Information Officer, Deputy Director of Pharmacy and Lead Clinical Pharmacist, Emergency and Acute Medicine.

At the same time, Ms Tong is a part-time PhD candidate at Monash University, working on building evidence towards advancing roles for pharmacists in the hospital setting.

She is part of a team that developed a charting model at the Alfred Hospital, where pharmacists chart medications for patients alongside the doctor.

“It’s a collaboration with the doctor,” she tells AJP. “The doctor and the pharmacist are there at the point when the patient comes in … and together they come up with a plan for the medication.”

Following a successful randomised controlled trial that showed the model significantly reduced medication errors on admission, the Department of Health provided funding to roll it out to seven other hospitals in Victoria.

“My hope is that it actually paves the way for pharmacist prescribing rights,” says Ms Tong.

“It’s almost like role sharing. We’re trying to gather evidence to show that the pharmacists’ role actually makes it safer for the patient.

“I hope in the future, pharmacists are here 24 hours a day just like our medical and nursing colleagues are, because there’s an acknowledgement and evidence that our role is just as critical as those roles.”

Ms Tong’s research on pharmacists’ role in reducing medication errors in hospital discharge summaries was also recognised for excellence this year by the Medical Journal of Australia and the Australian Medical Association.

What you said:

“Leading research that gives pharmacists the evidence to demonstrate what advanced roles they can play to improve patient care. Breaking the barriers of the so-called turf war.”

“Pushing the collaborative partnership between doctors and pharmacists through practice-based research, which is being implemented at multiple hospitals around the country.”

The Agenda Setters campaign asked AJP readers to vote for the pharmacists they feel are showing the way forward for the profession. We finished with a list of 13 winners as voted by you: see the full list here.

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