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Pharmacists are seeing themselves as their own worst enemy when it comes to embracing change

by Angela Alexander

At the 15th Social Pharmacy Workshop held in Queenstown, New Zealand (8 to 11 July, 2008), 125 delegates — pharmacists, psychologists and sociologists from 28 countries — gathered to discuss pharmacy in a social context, with the emphasis on globalisation, marketing and transcultural practices.


John Shaw, head of School of Pharmacy, University of Auckland, highlighted the seven star roles of the pharmacist, identified by the World Health Organization:

  • Care giver
  • Decision maker
  • Communicator
  • Leader
  • Manager
  • Life-long learner
  • Teacher

Many of the research presentations, policy and opinion papers gave an insight into aspects of these roles around the world. The following are those that are of relevance to the development of pharmacy in the UK.

In Australia, the key management issues facing community pharmacy were found to be similar to those identified by other managers in industry.

Lesley White, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney, presented the results of a study in which pharmacists were asked to prioritise factors that would have the most impact on their businesses in the next 12 months. Recruitment and retention of talented staff were seen as key.

The need to find viable business models to respond to practice change was required to increase pharmacy’s ability to integrate cognitive services into core business and professional practice. Eleonora Feletto, Faculty of Pharmacy, Sydney, suggested that organisational flexibility was needed.

Tools to build capability to change and increase performance were being developed and trialled with pharmacies in Australia. The application of non-pharmacy related theoretical bases was proving useful, and in addition highlighting gaps in the theories.

A study of collaboration between GPs and pharmacists in New Zealand was presented by Linda Bryant, Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Auckland.

She had studied perceptions of pharmacists’ roles in four areas:

  • Mandate — believing there is the authority to do something
  • Legitimacy — believing they should be doing something
  • Adequacy — believing they are able to do something competently
  • Effectiveness — believing that it would be worthwhile to do something

Looking at medication review services, pharmacists expressed a desire to participate, but perceived a lack of adequacy and a lack of mandate. They also held the view that the role was not legitimate or a priority in relation to their core business.

Since GPs were not giving back to pharmacists, they were not aware of how well they were doing, and so effectiveness was not being demonstrated.

A national survey to explore pharmacist’s views on a range of current and future roles had been undertaken in New Zealand in 2006. Pharmacists perceived themselves to be the highest barriers to change, exhibiting apathy, having a narrow, inward focus and a subservient approach.

On a more positive side though, they believed that they had an adequate skill set. In presenting these findings, Shane Scahill, School of Pharmacy, University of Auckland equated pharmacy to the possum — it either had to move or it would become road kill.

A move to support patients with the chronic conditions of hypertension and diabetes has been piloted in Denmark. Charlotte Rossing, Pharmakon, described the programme, which was based on a model to empower patients in the use of their medicines.

The study had shown that the programme led to significant improvements in clinical outcomes, patient knowledge and health-related quality of life. The more comprehensive intervention showed greater potential for patient self-management and empowerment.

However the brief version was thought to be more economical.

Citation: Electronicjuice URI: 10026189

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