In a landscape of increasing opportunities for pharmacists, last week PSA launched its foundation stage training program for those wanting to work as a general practice pharmacist.1
Are you looking for the next step in your career? Discover the rewards of working at the coalface of primary care – talking to patients about managing their medicines, identifying medicine issues, influencing prescribing choices, collaborating with GPs and the primary care team, and ensuring quality use of medicines is embedded in patient care.
As a relatively new phenomenon in Australia, working as a general practice pharmacist may be uncharted territory for both the pharmacist and the general practice.
The role needs to be developed in collaboration with new colleagues. Consider how to obtain patient consultations, what practice-level activities (e.g. clinical audits) to undertake, and what training/education you could provide to patients and fellow health professionals. There may be barriers along the way, but it’s important to be able to take constructive criticism.
According to Greer Meredith, a PSA Project Officer working with Primary Health Networks (PHNs) in Melbourne, this proactive approach requires resilience and robustness.
One person with both is Mina Naguib MPS, a general practice pharmacist working at Glenroy and Calder Medical Centres in the north-west suburbs of Melbourne. His foray into the field began with a PSA-managed pilot program, when he realised this was a career he wanted to pursue.
‘Working in general practice gives me the opportunity to directly collaborate as a member of the multidisciplinary health care team and gain professional satisfaction through using my knowledge and training to improve patients’ health outcomes,’ Mr Naguib said.
The work can be rewarding, with real differences in patient outcomes. He recalls an elderly patient discharged from hospital on a 14-day course of frusemide and a potassium supplement. Although 14 days of frusemide was supplied, the potassium pack contained 200 tablets. The patient continued taking potassium alone until his post-discharge consultation with Mr Naguib in the third week, who immediately raised the issue with the patient’s GP. A biochemistry test that day identified elevated potassium levels. Potassium was ceased and harm was prevented well before the next GP consultation.
PSA and the general practice pharmacist
In its Pharmacists in 20232 report PSA recommends embedding pharmacists in general practice and recognises the need to prepare pharmacists for this new frontier. Its foundation course and practice support tools are available now.
For information on the role of the general practice pharmacist, refer to PSA’s Pharmacists in 2023: Roles and Remuneration report.3 As described in the report, it is recommended that pharmacists have these prerequisites:
- Current AHPRA registration as a pharmacist
- Minimum 2 years’ experience post-registration
- Medication Management Review accreditation desirable but not essential
The program consists of 12 online modules and access to a training manual, readiness quiz and an online forum.
The foundation program is designed for pharmacists new to or interested in working in general practice. Training includes the role of the general practice pharmacist, an overview of primary care in a general practice, medical software introduction, billing sources, and integration into the general practice team. A support tool is available to inform practice teams about what pharmacists can do as well as support pharmacists in the team.
For members the cost is $550 and $825 for non-members.
Mr Naguib had no such support when starting out. ‘If you are thinking about becoming or already are a general practice pharmacist, I certainly recommend the PSA’s foundation program, which paves the way for pharmacists through their journey in the GP space,’ he told Australian Pharmacist.
Pharmacists can be a part of the Workforce Incentive Program when it begins on 1 January next year.
Interested pharmacists can also attend an upcoming workshop on pharmacists in general practice and aged care. This will complement the foundation program online modules and will be held in Adelaide on 23 November. To find out more and to register, click here.