I’m interested in becoming a general practice pharmacist. What steps do I need to take to get there?
From January 2020, incentives will be provided to general practices allowing for non-dispensing pharmacists to work within their practice. As a pharmacist with experience in this area, here are some tips starting out.
Do your research. Look into general practices and how they operate. Variations exists between practices, but having a basic understanding is vital. PSA have great resources on the general practice pharmacist career pathway, including online modules.
Think about your skill set. Write down what skills you already have from your pharmacy career and what skills you believe you could bring to the role. Being an accredited pharmacist is not essential but highly regarded, as this process prepares you for general practice.
Be proactive. Set up a meeting with the practice. Discuss the position and what it might look like for them. Ensure the duties fit with your scope and skill set. Being open and honest upfront forms strong relationships.
Offer time in the practice before going straight into employment, to show what you have to offer. This will allow you to gain a better understanding of the operational side of a general practice and what skills you can offer.
Build rapport. You are now working in a multidisciplinary team. Respect the roles of each health professional and learn how you can work together to enhance the care for the patients.
Join a support group. Experienced pharmacists exist in this role – contact them for advice and support.
Enjoy the experience. While it’s a learning curve, it also provides for a fulfilling and rewarding career.
Angela Nasone MPS has over 10 years’ experience as a non-dispensing pharmacist in general practice in Adelaide. She is also Home Medicines Review (HMR) accredited, performing HMRs for the practice as well as pharmacies within the local community. She has recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Primary Health Care (Diabetes Management and Education).
I grew up in a medical household with copies of the Medical Journal of Australia strewn perpetually across the coffee table. I ended up doing a science degree and working in pathology for a number of years before completing a pharmacy degree at the age of 32.
I quickly realised that community really wasn’t my thing though I very much enjoyed the patient engagement that it offered. I always envisaged myself involved in patient care but at the same time wanted the continuity that the hospital environment didn’t really offer.
I attended the Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy conference in 2016 as a newly accredited pharmacist. There was a call for pharmacists from Sydney who were interested in participating in the general practice pharmacist trial. I felt excited. My friend sitting next to me prompted me to put my name down and it all went from there.
The steps you would need to take to become a GP pharmacist would be:
- become an accredited pharmacist
- become a member of your local primary health network and attend their activities
- learn what is happening in general practice at the moment, about the Medical Benefits Schedule, and what role pharmacists can play
- get an understanding of what clinical governance means to general practice and how it will impact on the future of primary care
- become an active and reflective listener, hone your communication skills and understand that general practices work as teams
- consider gaining further qualifications in pharmacy
- be open to working with a variety of organisations and people both clinical and non-clinical.
Vinita Deshpande MPS works as a general practice pharmacist in Western Sydney as part of the WentWest Phn trial of pharmacists in general practice. She is an accredited pharmacist and has a background working in community, hospital and aged care environments. She is also a current Intern Training Workshop Facilitator with PSA and is studying towards a Masters of Clinical Pharmacy.
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To access PSA’s CPD, training and practice support tools for general practice pharmacists, visit www.psa.org.au/careerpathways
PSA is holding a Clinical Pharmacy Foundations Workshop in Sydney on Thursday 25 July, prior to PSA19. The workshop is ideal for pharmacists interested in working in general practice. For more information visit www.psa19.com/registration