What’s in a name? Harnessing the true potential of Pharmacy Assistants

At the Pharmacy Expo held in Sydney from 4-6 June there was much discussion about the evolving role of the Pharmacy Assistant in the modern pharmacy environment.

The Footy Show in Melbourne leads in with their theme “It’s more than a Game”, but in Community Pharmacy land, the role of the Pharmacy Assistant is certainly “more than a name”. They come into the pharmacy industry with wide-eyed enthusiasm, but is their title really appropriate – one which reflects their status in their role in the Pharmacy healthcare team?

Pharmacy Assistants are fundamentally important to the survival of Community Pharmacy as we know it. As the ‘coalface’ representatives, they offer the caring perspective with which the pharmacy industry is entrusted and must multi-task every day. An average day in Pharmacy sees the whole spectrum of humanity – from those with minor illnesses, to impatient individuals and drug-dependent people with accompanying overt behaviour. Being passionate, understanding, knowledgeable, structured and organised are elementary requirements for a career in this challenging environment.

As an increasing number of Australians look to the pharmacy for ‘everyday’ management of their health concerns, the Pharmacy Assistant will become an increasingly important entity within the business. Pharmacists do expect Pharmacy Assistants to keep abreast of the latest information on treatments and disease areas, but are they encouraged and rewarded for this ongoing career development? There are a number of ways we can do this:

  • Consider initiating a specialised pathway which allows career development in a particular area – diabetes, natural medicines, wound care or cardiovascular health -  complementing the role of the Pharmacist
  • Encourage improvement of their professional skills by providing relevant courses and seminars
  • Provide the opportunity for online study/learning, and incentivise with appropriate rewards
  • Ensure they are kept informed of the latest product news and launches via the pharmacy media, particularly PostScript and Contact
  • Always consider the messages and language appropriate to this audience and focus on helping them to have the confidence to conduct a consultation with customers that offers real solutions
  • Highlight great work – showcase ‘stars’ through appropriate communications channels so all Pharmacy Assistants recognise what ‘the best in the business’ is all about.

Now is the time for the role of Pharmacy Assistants to be recognised and re-branded. What’s in a name? Let us know your thoughts below…

This blog has been co-authored by Gerald Quigley, practicing Community Pharmacist & Accredited Herbalist & Lisa Burling from Cube

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