‘Hospital pharmacy is booming.’

Peter Fowler
Peter Fowler.

AJP had a chat with Peter Fowler, the new president of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia

At the conclusion of SHPA’s record-breaking Medicines Management 2018 in November, Peter Fowler was announced as incoming SHPA President. Mr Fowler says he intends to build on the transformative presidency of his predecessor Professor Michael Dooley at a pivotal time for hospital pharmacy.

“Hospital pharmacy is booming,” he says.

“While hospital pharmacy roles now comprise more than 20% of all positions in Australian pharmacy, in recent years 45% of all new jobs have been in this sector, including many opportunities to specialise.

“Against this backdrop SHPA is anticipating the future needs of pharmacy. As President, I will focus on building the accessibility and quality of our career-spanning resources, programs and support for pharmacists and technicians.

“From our brand new CPD planning and recording tool, CPD Central, to credentialing of advanced practice, in 2019 we will continue to throw our weight behind programs that educate, upskill and develop hospital pharmacists to become more capable, effective and influential in their practice and in their care.”

Mr Fowler says central to this commitment is continued expansion of the SHPA Residency Program.

“The values of active learning among peers, on the wards and in the clinics, is in being increasingly recognised, with growing demand for these opportunities,” he says. “SHPA is increasing investment in Australia’s only formalised and structured pharmacy residency program in 2019.

“This year we are complementing Foundation Residencies – which are well-established at 37 sites across the country – with the development of next-stage Advanced Training Residencies, strengthening this platform for growing the next wave of Australian pharmacy leaders.”

Mr Fowler says at a state, territory and national level, SHPA will continue to foster and advocate for the unique expertise and impact of hospital pharmacists.

“In a range of roles and care settings, our members practice at a high level, caring for complex patients with complex medicines management needs, in a multidisciplinary environment.

“This presents us with a clear mandate. As hospital pharmacists’ professional partner, SHPA will work to support and develop the workforce to meet the rising demand for advanced skills.

“At the same time, SHPA will continue to harness members’ experiences and amplify their voices. We want to ensure the value that other healthcare professions place on hospital pharmacy always translates into a range of rewarding roles and career paths being open to practitioners across the country.”

Mr Fowler says the strong response to innovative programs – such as Specialty Practice – ensure they are poised for further growth.

“Along with our ever-expanding Residencies, successfully piloted Mentoring Program and the return of Advancing Practice credentialing to Australia, Specialty Practice is an incredibly valuable offering for pharmacists of all levels.

“The ability to connect and learn from like-minded peers across 24 disciplines, from students and interns to internationally recognised pharmacists, in an open and accessible framework exemplifies what makes SHPA special.

“As we approach its two-year mark, the tangible outcomes of Specialty Practice are beginning to flow. In 2019 we will see Standards of Practice published across multiple streams, while members will continue to shape national pharmacy policy, education and innovation in their areas of expertise.”

Mr Fowler says shaping policy will remain a priority as SHPA’s influence continues to grow.

“We will continue to work with members, and healthcare and government stakeholders, to push for evidence-based policy change and, in doing so, highlight the valuable contribution made by hospital pharmacists.

“The very first day of 2019 saw Australia’s new mandated system for managing and communicating shortages through the TGA come into effect. This was a fitting way to mark 18 months since SHPA’s point prevalence study highlighted the issue of medicines shortages in the national health conversation and a sign of things to come.”

Above all, Mr Fowler says hospital pharmacy in 2019 and beyond is about collaboration in the name of quality care.

“In November, we released the report of the first Australian study to comprehensively analyse current hospital pharmacy practices around opioid analgesia in the surgical setting.

“This year we look forward to building a coordinated, multidisciplinary response given the clear links between the prescribing and supply of opioids after surgery in hospitals and heightened risk of long-term misuse and dependence.

“SHPA members are key members of multidisciplinary teams in hospitals across Australia, and we are proud of their commitment to respond to this public health challenge.

“We will continue to work with members, and healthcare and government stakeholders, to push for evidence-based policy change. This year you can also expect to see more from us regarding achieving equity in indigenous pharmacy programs and improving supply and accessibility to important medicines.

“Likewise, when it comes to ensuring best stewardship of government funding – with hospitals overseeing 20% of PBS spending – hospital pharmacists should be part of associated funding conversations that support the supply chain and improve the quality use of these medicines.”

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