Agenda setters: Joyce McSwan

Pain specialist Joyce McSwan

In the first of a new series, AJP chats with Joyce McSwan, who was voted by readers as pharmacy’s biggest Agenda Setter

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.

Our overall winner, Joyce McSwan, is well-known for her work in the area of pain management.

“Either through funding, or grass-roots teaching or mentoring, we need to really put something a bit more standardised together to help bring out talent and innovation in the pharmacy profession,” says Joyce McSwan, the founder of PainWISE.

“I’d like to try and stimulate that properly in a way which involves guidelines. People aren’t always able to spring out something from their hip pocket like I’ve been able to.”

Ms McSwan says that existing awards for innovation are a great start, but require pharmacists to already have invested significantly in their projects.

“When I think about how I started, I literally had to do my own pilot, my own feasibility study. While that’s fine, it wasn’t easy and certainly had I been limited in terms of funds or persistence, I might not be where I am now.

“So if we had some sort of conduit or platform within pharmacy to stimulate innovation, it would make it much easier to bring out talent. Having gone through that journey, I’d love to see something formal available.”

Also on Ms McSwan’s agenda is mentoring of early career pharmacists.

“For the first two years in the occupational therapy pathway after the interns have completed their internships, they’re really closely mentored,” she told the AJP.

“That really helps hold their hands a bit further – those mentors are paid to do it, it’s a structured mentoring process and they’re assigned to one or two mentors at that transitional point.

“I’d like to see some kind of mentoring outside pharmacists’ internships so that they’re not just left to fend for themselves out there.”

A third key issue for Ms McSwan will come as a surprise to none: changes in how pain is managed.

“We need to grow pharmacists to have more of that pain management capability. That’s not just for the MedsCheck process – they’re fundamentally within our scope of practice – but to be able to push pharmacists into that group-based allied health multiple type of service hub would make such a difference.”

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