The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand’s chief executive Richard Townley says he will “implement with vigour” the ten recommendations for action in the Early Career Pharmacists’ (ECPs) Building Blocks Report.
Mr Townley said “Keeping the profession strong means the enthusiasm, energy and aspirations of early career pharmacists must be strongly supported by the Society in its role as the pharmacy professional organisation.”
“The Society has recognised this and has had an ECP appointed to its National Executive since 2017. Future leaders of the profession must be listened to closely and the Society commits to raising the Early Career Pharmacists voice and will implement its’ ten recommendations for action with vigour.”
The pharmacy profession has a much younger age-profile than most other health professions, with 45% of the pharmacy profession under the age of 36 years of age.
The ECP consultation survey was designed to gather the views, experiences and challenges faced by ECPs (those with less than 10 years of experience post-graduation). The consultation survey was completed by 329 ECPs, which equates to a 23% response rate.
The Society’s ECP Steering Group identified the following four key themes as being important for ECPs:
Engagement and representation
Job satisfaction, recognition and remuneration
Innovation and technology
A big challenge for the profession
It is clear from the results of the consultation that ECPs are committed and passionate about their role as a pharmacist with 65% of ECPs indicating they are “somewhat or very satisfied” with their career as a pharmacist.
When asked if they felt they are making a useful contribution to their patients’ health, 89% of ECPs “agreed and strongly agreed” with this statement.
Despite this, ECPs are considering leaving the profession.
From the survey, 31% of respondents think it is unlikely they will be in the pharmacy profession in the next 5 years.
It is a big challenge for the profession to turn this trend around and reduce the number of ECPs who are considering leaving the profession.
Ten recommendations for action
The Society has established a National ECP group and will continue to build on this utilising an ECP representative from each of the branches across New Zealand.
Provide (online) opportunities for non-clinical education, personal self-development and discussions to occur.
Identify current and emerging roles for pharmacists, and work to develop supported pathways to enable career progression into these areas.
Explore the development of a framework to recognise current practice against a continuum of pharmacist experience
Develop a toolkit to provide guidance and support for job interview questions and negotiations
Promote the benefits and opportunities for the use of robotics and information technology
Establish a Foundation programme for ECPs post registration
Develop alternative models of (pharmacist) service delivery and advocate for these along with appropriate remuneration
Raise awareness, with the public and other health professionals, of the full extent of a Pharmacists scope, skill and expertise.
Facilitate access to independent legal advice and support for employment concerns
Making it happen
“The Society is committed to working alongside ECPs to implement the recommendations in the report and help shape the future of the profession in a positive way,” said Townley.
The Society acknowledged the members of the ECP Steering Group (and especially previous chair Fiona Bradley) for their dedication and hard work. The Society’s current Early Career Pharmacist Co-opted National Executive Member, Michael Hammond, will co-ordinate this movement moving forward.
The establishment of a National ECP group is considered the most vital action required. It is an essential step to achieve the other actions. This group will be supported by the Society to provide the leadership and develop and drive forward the work required to achieve the other actions.
Each Branch will select an ECP Champion who will be part of the National group. This would be a leadership development opportunity for Early Career Pharmacists in line with the objectives of the Pharmacy Action Plan.