Advanced Practice Pharmacist credentialing is key to the future of the profession, writes Shefali Parekh
Credentialing of Advanced Practice Pharmacists has been the talk of the town since the Australian Pharmacy Council announced the end of the national program last month.
Career advancement and struggle for identity in health care provision in Australia is one of the major reasons why many young pharmacists are leaving the profession. The Advanced Practice Pharmacist credential therefore presents a great opportunity be acknowledged for our active learning and ability to put our skills and knowledge into action.
What do pharmacists get out of it? While it may not be financial, the reward is the positive patient health outcomes. The reward is the pat on the back from your colleagues, friends and family.
In a time where there is said to be an oversupply of pharmacists, the reward is that extra qualification that will stand you out from the rest and be the point of differentiation when applying to positions.The reward is the potential for so many other opportunities and career paths.
The reward is job satisfaction. By demonstrating pharmacists can excel across a range of different areas such as clinical, education, research, leadership and management both within and outside the pharmacy profession; who knows, remuneration may follow.
It’s all well and good to say we want this to happen because pharmacy is at a crossroads, but if we do not do anything about it then what is the point of complaining?
We have come a long way in 10 years, so imagine how the profession will look in another 10 years, when we are able to collaborate with doctors in a specialist practice setting to assist prescribing decisions and manage chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes.
All pharmacists, regardless of workplace or stage of practice, are encouraged to highlight their strengths through the national credentialing framework so that we can be better equipped for a bright future of not just being a generally registered pharmacist.
Let’s create high standards so that we can be proud of our profession against others within the healthcare landscape.
In a profession where life-long learning is a part of the job description, it should come as no surprise when our colleagues go down different paths to work in different environments or professions, or further post-graduation study in order to develop, expand and specialise their role in optimising patient care.
For example, we have pharmacists who are experts in wound care and opioid abuse to name a few yet they are not nationally recognised for their innovation in service.
Much of the work done for creating advanced competencies in the new standards which are due for release soon is based on national credentialing, so our profession needs this program to showcase the impact of our practice rather than the knowledge. Because we all have the same baseline clinical knowledge from studying the same course, and graduating with the same degree.
As a student, I believe it is critical for my peers to aspire for great progression within a career which is so very versatile, especially since it can be easy to fall into the routine of pharmacy and not branch out into innovative streams.
A credential that recognises professional growth will gain the respect of not only other healthcare professions but also our patients.
I think there is a lack of awareness and real understanding of the advanced practice framework and where it fits in the bigger picture of pharmacy practice. Being an advanced practice pharmacist will motivate, inspire and remind people why they were excited about becoming a pharmacist in the first place.
Shefali Parekh is the president of the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association.