Poll: Professional services and pharmacists

Do you think there should be a dedicated role for pharmacists who perform professional services?

Following a survey by UTS Pharmacy for its annual Barometer Report, AJP recently asked readers whether their workplace employed a pharmacist dedicated mainly to the provision of non-dispensing professional services.

Over two weeks, 301 AJP readers responded to the poll.

The results almost exactly reflected those of the UTS Pharmacy Barometer survey: 80% (240 votes) of respondents said their pharmacy did not have a dedicated professional services pharmacist.

However one fifth (20%, 61 votes) of respondents said their pharmacy did have someone in that role.

Interestingly readers and pharmacist organisations were divided on the concept of a dedicated professional services pharmacist altogether.

The Pharmacy Guild stated that: “The most frequently performed professional service in pharmacy in Australia is the dispensing of a prescription. 

“The other professional programs are extensions of this core service,” Guild acting national president Trent Twomey told AJP.

“All pharmacists need to be performing all of these tasks, so all Australians have the same level of access.

“All pharmacists are professional service pharmacists. There is no such thing as a non-professional service pharmacist.”

Some readers agreed with this premise, or questioned where funding would be coming from to support such a role.

“Considering the funding for professional services has essentially come out of the decreased remuneration from dispensing via price disclosure, it is disappointing that the alleged payback of funds through the delivery of professional services should come at the cost of another pharmacist on the payroll,” said reader Steve Flavel.

“Seriously, how many small pharmacies do you think are going to remain in existence if a dedicated ‘Professional service Pharmacist’ is expected to be the norm?”

Meanwhile others maintained that these roles are viable.

“Doctors are GPs and then there are specialists and then there are sub groups of them… why not apply this to pharmacists and pay them accordingly,” one reader wrote.

A community pharmacist on Facebook said: “The data shows that patient-facing services can’t be multitasked unlike the majority of pharmacist activities.

“Dispensing and services need to be both completed in a pharmacy, but advocacy for dedicated services roles need to exist because they are very different activities with different competencies.

“I hope that PSA acknowledges this in their advocacy for the 7CPA – at least 1/5 of the pharmacies surveyed had this role already, which tells you there’s a need!”

PSA called for more investment from the Community Pharmacy Agreement “to fund and help support pharmacists deliver these valuable and critical health services to the community”.

“Without this investment, community pharmacies will not be able to support pharmacists in this role more widely across the sector,” said PSA national president Dr Chris Freeman.

What do you think? Is there a place in the industry for pharmacists hired mainly for the purpose of providing non-dispensing professional services? Or are professional services something that all pharmacists should do?

Please tell us why you chose your answer in the comments section below.

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