‘Pharmacists need a seat at the table.’

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ECP leaders call for expanded roles for pharmacists – including fully funded positions in transition of care and more seats “at the table, where decisions are being made”

Pharmacists play a big role in healthcare for Australians but have “so much more to offer”, PSA Queensland branch president Shane MacDonald told NAPSA Congress delegates during an ECP panel session over the weekend.

Speaking to pharmacy students about extending influence and opportunities, Mr MacDonald said the most important question is not ‘how’ or ‘what’, but ‘why’.

“As in: ‘why do you get up in the morning?’ What’s your cause, your purpose, your belief?” he said.

“What’s my ‘why’? I believe that all Australians should have access to the world’s best healthcare, and that’s a pretty big ‘why’.

I believe pharmacists have a very big role in healthcare for Australians but we have so much more to offer. We have to advocate to attain those roles and provide those services to communities.

He also shared the importance of getting involved with advocacy groups including the PSA, having initially become involved with the ECP group in Queensland.

“This is how I can achieve my ‘why’,” Mr MacDonald said, adding that he has since had several advocacy opportunities and had a seat on various committees and working groups “to advance the profession, all with the aim of benefitting the community”.

Lauren Burton, a national ECP Board Member with the PSA, also shared the importance of getting connected with peers for support.

“Just out of curiosity I joined the local ECP working group and immediately found my tribe, people who were willing to engage in conversations to do with pharmacy and get our nerd on,” she said.

“It was a very safe place. To be able to practise and learn from other people and test ways of going about it within the ECP environment was a godsend.”

Moderator Ethan Kreutzer, president of NAPSA, asked panelists how pharmacists could be better utilised over the coming years.

“I actually feel very strongly about pharmacists having a seat at the table where there is any decision around medicines management,” Ms Burton argued.

“We need pharmacists wherever decisions are being made,” she said.

Pharmacists are incredibly good at patient care, but when it comes to being at the table, where decisions are being made, where is the pharmacist?

“Being a director on the ECP branch, I can be at the table but also learn at the same time. That’s one thing I would one to see more: pharmacists wherever these decisions are being made, both micro and macro.”

Meanwhile Mr MacDonald called for more pharmacist involvement in transitions of care.

“The reason why I think pharmacists obviously would play a pivotal role in transition of care: we can see there’s facts like, three out of five (so 60%) of discharge summaries where pharmacists are not involved have a medication error,” he told delegates.

“Only one in five changes made to medication regimen were then explained adequately at discharge.

“Having a fully funded transition of care pharmacist in that position would allow pharmacists to do more and reduce those errors.

“It will help the economy because taxpayers pay for all of those medication errors at the end of the day. This is one area where pharmacists can really help.”

Panelist Kerri Barwick, trainer and assessor lead at the PSA, shared her view that pharmacists could do more in wound care.

“If I was thinking about where pharmacists be better utilised, their skills, mine is wound care. I think it’s an area where a lot of pharmacists aren’t very confident, but it’s a really important area especially with the growing numbers of diabetes,” said Ms Barwick.

“That is quite a specialised area, it’s not something that supermarkets are going to steal off us.

“If you walk into a pharmacy, I think there should be someone there who has specialised knowledge in that, I think that’s a really big area for pharmacists.”

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