The next generation

Day One (24 Jan) of NAPSA Congress 2020 at the University of Newcastle. Photo credit: AJP

What roles do pharmacy students want for the future, and what percentage think community pharmacy should transition into a “consultation” model?

Pharmacy students are highly interested in prescribing and seeing community pharmacy transition into a consultation model, according to an interactive session held by PSA president Chris Freeman at NAPSA Congress on Friday.

Associate Professor Freeman hosted an interactive poll that asked NAPSA delegates what activities they would like to be doing in the future.

The poll drew the following responses: prescribing, pharmacovigilance, deprescribing, compounding, reviews, general practice, collaborating, vaccinations, triage ailments, and antibiotics, among others.

It was interesting to get the views of pharmacists-to-be and what the future will be for their practice, said A/Prof Freeman.

“I really hope we’ll be able to achieve those and I’m certainly committed to doing that as well.”

Interactive poll at NAPSA Congress 2020, run by Chris Freeman

A/Prof Freeman said the debate around prescribing – the most popular activity of choice among pharmacy students – had been around for over a decade.

“The sentiment being that pharmacists have got the most depth and experience in medicines, therefore why shouldn’t we be having the role of prescribing medicines?” he explained.

“Given that we’ve got nursing and other allied health professionals prescribing, it makes sense for pharmacists to do that. I in fact taught a course to nurse prescribers, I taught the clinical pharmacology component to them and yet I’m the one who can’t prescribe, it just doesn’t make sense.”

NAPSA President Erin Cooper told AJP that the biggest topic for students at the moment is being prepared for future roles.

“In pharmacy it’s very topical at the moment with lots of organisations wanting to organise new services for pharmacy, introduction of prescribing etc,” she said.

“I think it’s just the unknown of what the future could be, and lobbying towards improving what we can do in the future – and ensuring we can learn those skills now so that we have an easy transition into what the future may be.”

Nearly all (98%) delegates polled said that community pharmacy should transition into a “consultation” model of practice.

Interactive poll at NAPSA Congress 2020, run by Chris Freeman

“The consultation model shows the value of what pharmacists do, because at the moment, what people see pharmacists doing is sticking labels on boxes rather than having a genuine consultation with them,” said A/Prof Freeman.

However, according to a separate live vote, 20% of student delegates believe that pharmacists will one day be replaced by technology and artificial intelligence.

“I’m a bit concerned for the 20% of responses that do believe pharmacy will be replaced by tech,” he said.

We’ve always been at a crossroads, there will always be things that may threaten to undermine us. But we will evolve and take these things in our stride.

“My view is that if we transform the environment to a more consultation model, they’re going to see greater value in the role of pharmacists.

“Then tech won’t replace pharmacists in the future, it will assist us.”

Interactive poll at NAPSA Congress 2020, run by Chris Freeman

Despite a subsection of pharmacy students believing that the industry is threatened by technology, Ms Cooper believes most students are quite positive about the future.

“The mood is quite positive at the moment, especially compared to when I started,” she said.

“When I started, I feel like there was this myth going around that there was no jobs in pharmacy, why are you doing pharmacy… but I feel like that has changed a lot.

“I think there is a lot more positive approach to the future we have as pharmacists, we have somewhere to go. There’s no concern about jobs or future employment.”

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1 Comment

  1. Debbie Rigby

    Chris Freeman is a brilliant thought leader for pharmacy, who walks the talk.

    My thought on the overwhelming desire for pharmacist prescribing :
    Too often we read and hear of others simplifying dispensing (pick and stick) and not recognizing the complexity of the role – beyond the technical aspect (which can be done and checked by technology).

    Is the act of prescribing being oversimplified? Clearly prescribing involves more than writing a script. It is a complex process involving physical assessment, history-taking, differential diagnosis, medicine selection, patient counseling and much more. Being an expert in medicines is only part of the skill set to prescribe safely and appropriately.

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