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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : November 2006
psa ’M sure those who attended the Phar- macy Australia Congress (PAC) in Cairns would have found much to get them thinking about their profession. It was a fascinating conference and I congratulate PSA’s Queensland branch for making it so interesting and informa- tive. A lot of the discussion at the plenary sessions—and indeed through conference events—was about the direction of phar- macy in the future, not just the next year or two, but over the medium and long term. The big message I got was that many pharmacists want the profession to adopt an even stronger focus on its push into new areas of healthcare. There was a feeling that the profession was perhaps too focused on government- funded initiatives and not doing enough to develop its own programs that con- sumers would find beneficial and be will- ing to pay for. I found the example of the activities of one group of allied health profession- als—nurses, particularly nurse educators —to be especially instructive. Nurse educators have been quite proac- tive in extending their activities into new areas, some of which are clearly appro- priate areas for the pharmacy profession to take a wider role in, for example the management of asthma and diabetes. Of course the pharmacy profession is already doing good work in these areas, but the message from those at PAC was there needed to be a renewed focus in such activities throughout the profession. Another area which will become more important in coming years is the estab- lishment of primary healthcare units. The pharmacy profession must be ready to actively establish its proper place in such from the president Pharmaceutical Society of Australia president Brian Grogan What’s your specialty? Finding a firm footing for pharmacy I units, otherwise the gap will by necessity be filled by others. As a side note, I was talking at PAC to Victoria’s Alastair Lloyd about progress in planning the 150th anniversary celebra- tion of PSA in that state. His research has uncovered the minutes of background discussions behind the formation of the PSA and some of the issues being faced by the profession back then strongly resem- ble those facing us today. Some 150 years ago pharmacists were examining ways to extend the profession’s role in the health system, just as we are doing today. I believe there should be specialist pharmacists in a string of fields—for example working directly inside medical practices —really developing their clinical skills Another major debate at PAC con- cerned whether there was a need for spe- cialisation within our profession and whether it is desirable. There were strong proponents both for and against speciali- sation at an extremely interesting plenary session hosted by Emeritus Professor Lloyd Sansom. My personal view is that if there are pharmacists who want to specialise, that’s good. The pharmacy profession has much 18 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.87 NOVEMBER 2006 to contribute and specialisation can help further develop some very valuable skills. I believe there should be specialist phar- macists in a string of fields—for example working directly inside medical prac- tices—really developing their clinical skills. All of what I have said so far in this col- umn ties in with what I said during my speech to officially open PAC. The PSA understands the impatience of some members—particularly recent graduates who have been exposed to the potential for so many exciting opportuni- ties for the profession through their learn- ing process—for the Society to undertake rapid change so pharmacy can extend its reach as quickly as possible. With the potential for new programs to open up through the Fourth Community Pharmacy Agreement, these boundaries will be further extended, more so if the profession can also develop a greater range of programs. The PSA recognises the valuable work of the pharmacy profession’s ‘front-run- ners’, those who are pushing back the boundaries of what pharmacy can do. We need the input and feedback from these pharmacists who are always testing the ‘front line’, but as we help to move the whole profession forward we also have an obligation to make sure that it is founded on solid ground. So, by necessity, the PSA must ‘hasten slowly’ to ensure the profession as a whole can take up the opportunities that will arise. Equally, when opportunities solidify, the wider profession has to be ready to step up to the mark and make the most of them. The PSA is its members and it is for this reason we must make sure that whatever direction we develop in offers a firm foot- ing for all. ¦