This is the first of a series in which AJP meets some Early Career Pharmacists
Taren Gill was the first Early Career Pharmacist to be appointed as a PSA National Board Director.
As a multi-skilled pharmacist, she works in several areas of practice including as Deputy Director of Pharmacy at Orange Hospital, a community pharmacist at Blooms the Chemist Orange and as a pharmacy lecturer at Charles Sturt University supporting students at Orange and Wagga Wagga.
Ms Gill said she “will take this role and platform that I have been provided to voice issues for ECPs and devote the necessary time and effort to fulfil this important position.”
What can early career pharmacists offer the profession in general? And to a pharmacy in which they work (including a hospital pharmacy) in particular?
Our generation has the benefit and/or burden of choice when we finish high school, ECPs have made a very intentional decision to be pharmacists and to contribute to better health outcomes and wellness of all Australians. I think generally we understand that our initial degree in pharmacy is not enough to excel at what we do and often we are looking to further upskill ourselves, whether it be clinically (HMR accreditation, diabetes educators, respiratory specialists, Masters in Clinical pharmacy etc) or seeking skills outside of pharmacy such as in management, HR, finance, IT etc.
An ECP offers enthusiasm and often are looking to innovate. When employing an ECP I find they are the first to embrace chance or initiate change and with the right support are able to see the bigger picture. Within the hospital sector the ECP’s I worked with formed excellent relationships and had great communication skills within a multidisciplinary team, in particular medical officers, which meant better collaboration and better health outcomes for the patients. In the community sector they are often the first to undertake a course, such as flu vaccination or mental health first aid – to facilitate the roll out in their pharmacy.
In terms of careers, do you think that your peers are (as a group) having their expectations met? What can be done to improve this?
My peers tend to be ECPs that forge a path for their own future. You see them at conferences and other networking events building relationships that may very well be their next job or opportunity.
That’s not to say the challenges are not there regarding remuneration and career pathways. Via both PSA member surveys and our ECP White paper consultation ECPs have made it clear that remuneration and knowledge of how to achieve different career pathways once completing intern training programs is a concern. When it comes to being seen as a health professional and pharmacy as a health destination, ECPs are also concerned of public perception regarding our role and the ‘race to the bottom’ on price does not help. Through advocacy, PSA is working on ways to help these issues.
Is enough done by pharmacy as a whole to highlight and advance the role of ECPs?
The appointment of a PSA ECP Board director in 2016 has certainly put the spotlight on ECPs generally and I think the profession is starting to take notice of pharmacy as a diverse workforce generally. There is always work to be done in empowering ECPs to reach their full potential.
There would be no-one out there that wouldn’t correlate remuneration with job satisfaction, as well as the ability to have a professionally satisfying career by contributing to what should be, a world class health system. ECPs have the most to gain or lose by decisions being made by government and other organisations, it directly impacts our future so we should be involved in consultation.
The NAPSA and PSA ECP movement are important for the future of pharmacy, not to mention its a lot of fun!
What is your group working on within PSA to promote and advance the role of ECPs?
We have state based ECP Working groups which I would encourage ECP’s and students to get involved in (contact our branch to find out more). Each working group is there to meet the needs of ECPs in their area and feed back to their national representatives who then feedback to myself to report to the board.
The PSA board is interested in the needs of ECPS. The working groups also organise and help to facilitate training to meet a gap, the PSA Confidence to Say No workshops around the country have been incredibly popular, some ECP WG are involved in local advocacy, and are a good stepping stone to building skills for branch committee members. I am excited to see the outcome of PSA Branch elections as many ECPs are nominated across the country.
In regards to the ECP White paper which will be launched at PSA17 in Sydney in July – at the beginning of my appointment I had wondered ‘what does success look like for an ECP’, our CEO Lance Emerson suggested a white paper which has involved face-to-face consultation and online survey available to any ECP (regardless of PSA membership).
The recommendations from this white paper are for the whole profession, and ECPs hope that all organisations will consider the recommendations when looking at a strategy for the future of Pharmacy in Australia.
What are some innovative career pathways people can be looking at within pharmacy?
The list is endless. PSA is working on a number of formal career pathways such as medication review pharmacist, aboriginal health services pharmacist, professional services pharmacist, pharmacist manager, general practice pharmacist. But as far as a career pathway, when pharmacists look at themselves as health professionals who provide solutions then there is no stopping them.
At the Victorian Pharmacy conference I met compounding pharmacists who making products I have never heard of, a pharmacist who is the Victorian Health governments ambassador to China, pharmacists working within the private hospital sector and as consultants to organisations on looking at inefficiencies.
Any further thoughts?
It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a pharmacist! Thank goodness we are always at a ‘cross-roads’ in pharmacy, it means there will always be someone ready to innovate, every problem is an opportunity for a solution.
AJP wants to know who you think are pharmacy’s rising stars. Vote here!