Bring back Advanced Practice Credentialling: NAPSA

pharmacist shouting call to action

Pharmacy students are often distressed about a perceived lack of opportunity within the profession – so initiatives like the discontinued National Credentialling Program of Advanced Practice Pharmacists matter a great deal, says NAPSA.

NAPSA has just released a position statement on the issue of the Advanced Practice Pharmacist Framework, following the Australian Pharmacy Council’s decision to end the National Credentialing Program last month.

The students’ association says that the concept supported by the APPF of elite pharmacy practitioners – assessing pharmacists against their performance rather than scope of practice – was and remains important for the profession.

“This is important as it is expected that all pharmacists have the same baseline clinical knowledge from studying the same course, and graduating with the same degree,” the statement says.

“It is the experience gained from working in different environments and/or further post-graduate study that allows some pharmacists to develop, expand and specialise their role in optimising patient care.

“The APPF hence presents a great opportunity for pharmacists to be acknowledged for their active learning and not only allows the significant advancement in skills and competencies of these pharmacists to be acknowledged; but in addition, recognises the substantial impact and contributions they make to health care – including different areas from clinical, education, research, leadership and management, to collaboration, communication and teamwork both within and outside the pharmacy profession.”

NAPSA says that the discontinuation of the credentialing program, “at a time where within our profession there has been [an] ongoing struggle to not only show our worth as pharmacists but to find our place within health care, is distressing to say the least”.

Students need the opportunity to be ambitious within the profession before they graduate, the statement says.

A recent National Pharmacy Students’ Survey found that 49% of Australian pharmacy students are concerned about career advancement and struggle for identity in health care provision, NAPSA says.

“It is one of the major reasons why many young pharmacists are leaving the profession.

“This is a staggering figure which shows that, despite progressions in establishing and recognising professional development, students remain distressed over the perceived lack of opportunities within this profession.”

NAPSA says it anticipates that issues around the sustainability of the APFF will be resolved with a long-term model in the near future.

“The 2015 NPSS survey demonstrated that 1 in 3 pharmacy students are unaware of career advancement opportunities such as national credentialing.

“Whether it is this similar lack of knowledge and awareness regarding the program and what it provides, or simply a lack of enthusiasm among pharmacists, that prevented minimum targets to be met during the pilot program, NAPSA would like to see action from the industry to improve the recognition process so that a sustainable model can be achieved.”

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  1. United we stand

    How would credentialling change the scope of your practice in a community setting? Short answer – at this point in time it doesn’t. Community pharmacists are dispense pharmacists first and foremost. Furthermore their advice and interventions are not adequately reimbursed. If they’re not reimbursed then they will stay on the same pay grade. Under these conditions who in their right mind would throw away $4000 to get a credential that is irrelevant in terms of employment. Almost no one. Hence the lack of interest.

    • Kevin Hayward

      Absolutely agree, this “qualification” does not provide you with a chance to expand your post registration opportunities. Even becoming an accredited pharmacist offers a paucity of opportunity. Better to add a vocational competency or quals in management, teaching or another health discipline.

  2. Jarrod McMaugh

    I can understand the point of view of the previous comments – the advanced credentialing is a significant investment, and there isn’t yet a lot of vocational recognition for them in practice.

    That being said, how does the industry develop remuneration structures and employment opportunities for advanced practice, unless the recognition of these skill levels are in place?

    Just like everything else in our society, we need early adopters to break ground and create acceptance, so that scope of practice and expertise are recognised.

    • Ron Batagol

      I agree. I completely understand concern over the absence of tangible rewards or immediate career advancement. However, look around at other professions. Nursing and medical professions have advanced practice programs as does pharmacy, as I understand it, in Great Britain. Yes, they’re further down the track in recognition and career rewards. It’s a slow process but we need to make a start, so that we can objectively measure pharmacy performance and skills at a defined range of advanced level performance. In that way, advanced levels of performance and scope of practice ( which I would suggest are already being demonstrated by many pharmacists within their various current scopes of pharmacy practice), can be universally recognised and acknowledged, both as a pathway to career development, and also in advancing the range of inter-professional collaborative health care practice formats that pharmacists.can participate in… ..

    • United we stand

      To be fair though, pharmacy operations and services are highly regulated and changes come about very slowly. Just to get the flu vaccination program rolling out in pharmacies took about 11 years.
      Under these conditions, it may take 10 to 20 years for advanced practice to have an actual place in pharmacy. So being an early adaptor doesn’t make much sense as what you were trained for is probably irrelevant by the time you get to practice it.
      We need to create new roles first then train pharmacists for them not the other way around.

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