It’s an exciting time to be in pharmacy, says PSA Young Pharmacist of the Year 2015 Amy Page—and the profession now has the numbers to expand where it practices and move into non-traditional roles.
“I’m really excited about where pharmacy is going: I think there’s more and more new and different roles for pharmacists, and we just have to be brave enough and try them – and also to build these roles for ourselves, as well,” Page told the AJP.
“There’s new initiatives and career paths for people to undertake, and I think working with other professions and other people our role in communication and information can be huge. When I say working with other people, I don’t just mean medical practitioners: I also mean allied health, carers, the community.”
Page, who was recently named as Young Pharmacist of the Year at the PSA15 conference, is a non-dispensing pharmacist who works in a GP clinic and is currently completing her PhD at the University of Western Australia on deprescribing.
“I’m very interested in individualising medicine,” she told the AJP. “Medicines are often very much needed, but sometimes modifying someone’s risk at any age can cause side-effects, so every medicine has its risks and benefits.
“As people go through their lives their body changes, their overall risks change, it’s a continuous process but often their medication regime will stay the same over many years.
“Sometimes it’s a prescribing cascade and it hasn’t been identified that an existing medicine is causing effects, rather than a new condition.
“Polypharmacy is known to be extraordinarily common – almost more the norm than it is the exception in older adults – and we know that there are inherent risks with polypharmacy. We just don’t know if it’s the canary in the coal mine for an individual, or it’s causing the poorer outcomes itself.”
A strong proponent of HMRs and other reviews, Page describes the cap on these services as “dreadful”.
“A reasonable cap is okay,” she says. “Of course there’s only a certain amount of HMRs you can do. But at the moment, it’s an unreasonably low cap.
“I think a pharmacist should be able to have a full-time job doing these. At the moment it’s capped so that if you take three hours to do an HMR, you can work on them 60 hours a month.
“That’s not bad if you’re toying with the idea of working part-time, but it’s not a full-time job.”
Page says the cap is even less reasonable for pharmacists performing reviews in rural and remote areas, as they may need to perform numerous reviews while visiting a remote location and the monthly restriction can prevent services from being performed.
Overall, however, the growth of professional services is very exciting, she says.
“I’d like to see us using more and more of our cognitive services,” she says. “And we need to realise that we’re all pharmacists, regardless of where we’re working.
“We’re all doing such important and different roles now, and so we need to support each other to grow in these roles.
“Pharmacy is in a really exciting era where we’re limited only by our imagination in what we can do. We’ve got enough people in pharmacy now to do all the essential roles.
“Now, we can expand into exciting and novel roles in providing information, in communicating and providing new services; we can fill all the essential roles and that means pharmacy can take on all the extra things we can be doing.
“Instead of only working in community and hospital settings, we can also move into multidisciplinary teams including GP practices.”