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The feature articles below are "opinion" pieces and reflect the views of the individual authors. They are not the views of AusPharm.net.au P/L, its directors or editorial group unless explicitly stated to be so.


Opinion

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20 years of AusPharm :: Mark Dunn : 29/2/2016 : Back in 1995 I was the owner of a small pharmacy in Dover in southern Tasmania. As the local pharmacist I inevitably found myself on a range of local committees, one of which was to heavily influence how I spent much of my time over the next 20 years.

The Australian Telecentre Program was funded (initially in 1992/93) by the then federal Labor government in an attempt to reverse the decline of isolated communities by giving them access to information and services, facilities for training and distance education, and the opportunity to produce income through telecommuting.   More... premium


Autonomous or Automatons? :: Jarrod McMaugh : 23/2/2016 : It struck me recently that the view I have of pharmacy practice may not be the same view of pharmacy that is held by some other pharmacists.

For me, the idea of what a pharmacist is, what a pharmacist does, the role, the responsibility, is black and white: pharmacists protect patients.

Almost like an existential crisis I realised that some pharmacists don’t see it like that at all. For some pharmacists, their role is to interact with patients and provide advice, and service, but to avoid challenging “established knowledge” about their patients.   More... premium


Chemmart's myDNA test offers more than it can deliver :: Dr Ken Harvey and Dr Basia Diug : 17/2/2016 : When you enter a Chemmart pharmacy, it’s hard to miss the posters and brochures promoting its “revolutionary myDNA test”. The brochure states it’s “personalised medicine”, where “your DNA results … can help guide your future health and lifestyle choices”.   More... premium


Things that make you go ‘huh :: Irwin Lowe : 9/2/2016 : One retail pharmacy interaction which inevitably brings a smile to my dial is the droll alliterative speech of the Australian archetype. Living in Rural Australia (ie: not Sydney or Melbourne), it is doubly amusing when country mannerisms are thrown in. So when Pearl Burl Nursing home phones and it’s Merle the nurse on the line* and she delivers the line “It’s Merle from Pearl Burl,” in a straight bat worthy of Ritchie Benaud, my humorous reaction is only tempered by the inanity of the interaction which follows:

“It’s Merle,” in case I missed it, “from Pearl Burl…”

“Yes, Merle,” say I, stifling a titter.   More... premium


Evaluation of health literacy is a corner stone of good communication :: Karalyn Huxhagen : 2/2/2016 : The area in which I am working at the moment - the central highlands of Queensland -  does not have regular GPs and access to secondary and tertiary services requires a four hour drive at least.

The revolving door of locum GPs leads to a lack of continuity in patient management and follow up by the GP. The GP practice staff have taken on many tasks to manage this situation the best way they can and provide a phenomenal service. The domiciliary nursing services have a long list of patients to visit each day as the towns have a significant ageing population.  Every health professional I have encountered is working at maximum capacity to provide quality patient care to the community.

One of the corner stones of the towns is the community pharmacist who is consistent, caring and very well respected by the patients and the health professionals.   More... premium


Why Owning A Pharmacy Is Really Not That Great An Idea :: Veronica Nou : 19/1/2016 : Each January, during the traditionally quiet pharmacy news time, it is AusPharm's custom to republish some of our most popular stories from the archives.

Today's offer, written by Sydney community pharmacy owner Veronica Nou - originally published in April 2013 takes a tongue in cheek look at why owning a pharmacy is 'totally for suckers'.

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There’s always been a lot of appeal attached to the idea of owning your own pharmacy. Indeed for many pharmacists it’s a kind of penultimate goal, and even at a time when the pharmacy industry is arguably at its worst, somehow the supply/demand ratio for pharmacy ownership remains staggeringly high.
 
But what happens when you get on the other side?   More... premium


Memoirs of My Geishas :: Wendy Morton : 12/1/2016 :

Each January, during the traditionally quiet pharmacy news time, it is AusPharm's custom to republish some of our most popular stories from the archives. Today's offering - from Wendy Morton - was first published in August 2008.

As a single gal kept busy juggling fulltime work, kids, home, community interests and a rather active social life, several wags have passed comment that I would really benefit from setting about finding myself a wife. Like many working women, at each fresh suggestion I of course laugh as if it is the first time I've ever heard the joke - for I don't wish to seem impolite - and promise to keep an eye out.

But you know what? After several years working as a pharmacist in a broad range of locales, there's no way I would be settling for a common or garden wife in my life! I want so much more...    More... premium


RGH E-Bulletin: all good things come to an end :: Chris Alderman : 21/12/2015 : Sadly, internal reorganisations within SA Health mean that today's RGH E-Bulletin (below) will be the last one published.

In AusPharm today, EB editor Dr Chris Alderman takes a look back at its 15 year history.

AusPharm is honoured to have served as an archive website for the E-Bulletin.

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The RGH Pharmacy E-Bulletin was first distributed to the “all users” email distribution list at the Repatriation General Hospital on March 12, 2001.
   More... premium


Appropriate use of your Return of Unwanted Medicines (RUM) bins :: Toni Riley Project Manager, National Return and Disposal of Unwanted Medicines (RUM) : 21/12/2015 : Recently, I conducted a small scale audit of some filled RUM bins awaiting incineration and thought it was an appropriate time to remind all community pharmacists of their responsibility to ensure the appropriate use of the RUM collection bins and handling of all returned and unwanted medicines.

I was alarmed to find that a large percentage of these RUM bins contained Schedule 8 drugs that were not rendered unusable, and were easily identifiable.   More... premium


Options, Options, Options :: Jarrod McMaugh : 15/12/2015 : Now that the option to discount PBS prescriptions by up to $1 is a reality, pharmacists need to start looking at a strategy on what their pharmacy will do.   More... premium


Why average is not average anymore! :: Norman Thurecht : 8/12/2015 : In today's AusPharm feature, Pitcher Pharmacy's Norman Thurecht looks at the effect of the 6CPA changes in PBS funding models on the dispensary profitability of a number of different community pharmacy formats.

The 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement has created a level of certainty for community pharmacy over the next 5 years. However, competition for the customer remains high and the impact on dispensary margins needs to be closely managed.   More... premium


If I wanted to be a doctor, I would be :: Jarrod McMaugh : 1/12/2015 : There is one thing that gets me annoyed very quickly, and that is when people make assumptions about me or my job. I get especially annoyed when people make assumptions about pharmacists in general, like we do nothing more than stick labels on a box, or that we must supply something once a doctor has prescribed it, or that the role of a community pharmacist has no clinical input.

It's a common issue - anyone who loves their job is going to assume that everyone else just doesn't get it, and would love it too if they saw it from your point of view. Aside from this, it's also a symptom of poor communication; the pharmacy profession doesn't communicate to the rest of the health industry about the critical role we play in medication management, and other health professionals fail to communicate with our profession to address their perceived problems with us.   More... premium


Why the Scheduling Issue was never about Scheduling :: Jarrod McMaugh : 20/11/2015 : I doubt there is any pharmacist in Australia who isn't aware that codeine scheduling was a hot topic. We've had petitions, impassioned pleas, and irate opinions. We've had commentary from both sides of the issue, some lambasting anyone who disagrees with rescheduling as "unprofessional", while others lambasted those for rescheduling as undeserving of the profession.

Ironically, the schedule of codeine shouldn't have been the issue at hand. So why did this issue arise at all, why is there so much passion on both sides of the argument, and what is the real issue that everyone should be focusing on?   More... premium


Pharmacists’ wages – time for debate :: Joe Demarte : 17/11/2015 : A Pharmaceutical Society of Australia membership survey in August 2015 was undertaken to gain feedback from members on a wide range of strategic activities undertaken by PSA and to better understand what is important to our members, how they think PSA performed and what they think about the various services that we provide.

We also asked how we could help address any challenges identified.

The resulting survey report makes it clear that the biggest challenge facing members is the issue of low wages for pharmacists, and when this finding is coupled with another key finding of the survey “that only 12% saw pharmacy ownership as a career path that they are interested in pursuing” then clearly community pharmacy is facing a major problem in attracting the next generation of pharmacy owners.   More... premium


Bit. Fit. :: Irwin Lowe : 10/11/2015 : I always used to maintain that, as a day-to-day label stickering pharmacist, I was in the fortunate position of being able to obtain a good deal of incidental exercise without very much additional effort. You might work on biceps and upper body should a zinc paste require trituration. To dispense a prescription that included Aspirin and Zarontin involved walking to both ends of the dispensary. A suspension requiring a damn good shake provided, in my estimation, all the exercise that a growing lad (or ladette) might need.

Intellectually I do comprehend the need for exercise, even appreciate the scientifically-supported wealth of evidence for the health benefits that pounding the pavement and other forms of self-flagellation provide. The problem, you see, is that exercise is anathema to me.   More... premium


Gender disparity in pharmacy :: Jarrod McMaugh : 3/11/2015 : Malcolm Turnbull, 29th Prime Minister, assumed office in September, and very promptly created a government that has the greatest number of female ministers since parliament began. What’s really interesting, is that this is considered news-worthy, rather than normal. Clearly women are just as capable as men, yet we still see a disproportionate response to women performing just about any role in our society.

Anyone who attended PSA15 or followed along on twitter may have noticed the issue of gender disparity in the pharmacy profession. It’s something that I don’t truly understand, and I certainly don’t have any answers – but I wonder if it’s possible to get a conversation started.   More... premium


Real-time monitoring system will guide pharmacist decisions and support evidence-based policy reforms :: Deon Schoombie, CEO, Australian Self Medication Industry : 29/10/2015 : During the last few weeks there has been substantial discussion about the potential for a real-time monitoring system to reduce the risk of consumers ‘pharmacy shopping’ for over-the-counter (OTC) codeine-containing analgesics.

I have been asked how this system will work and how it will address issues of misuse and addiction to Schedule 3 (S3) codeine-containing analgesics.   More... premium


Something on the side :: Justin Lee : 27/10/2015 : I have come across many young pharmacists who express a desire to pursue a different career path, yet remain in pharmacy because they have not found a suitable opportunity. They appear to have an all-or-nothing mentality - either I get a better / new job or I stay in pharmacy. Unfortunately, opportunities rarely look for a person; instead, it is a person who takes steps to actively seek opportunities that usually finds one ripe to exploit.

On the other hand, I have met other young pharmacists working in pharmacy and dabbling in a different business opportunity on the side. These pharmacists use the security of employment as a pharmacist to fund their entrepreneurial venture. To casual observers, it may seem ludicrous for a person to want to have a day job and also spend their ‘free time’ working on another job, especially a person who needs to balance this with family responsibilities.   More... premium


ASMI fighting OTC codeine interim decision :: Steven Scarff : 16/10/2015 : Steven Scarff is the Australian Self Medication Industry's Director, Regulatory and Scientific Affairs

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ASMI is opposed to the interim decision to up-schedule OTC codeine medicines to Schedule 4 and we are fighting to turn this decision around. The interim decision represents unnecessary over-regulation and will result in a huge increase in costs for both consumers and government. It will delay treatment and increase the difficulty for consumers of accessing medicines for self-limiting conditions such as cold/flu, migraine and dental pain.   More... premium


4 Very Sharp Corners :: Jarrod McMaugh : 6/10/2015 : Medicare, and specifically the Medical Benefits Schedule, is an amazing piece of public policy that allows for “universal” health care for Australian citizens in a way that is comparable to some other countries like Canada and the United Kingdom. Universal may not be completely accurate, since patients still have out of pocket expenses for some treatments, but generally speaking, it provides quick and affordable access to the best healthcare the system can provide.

Of course, it’s not without its flaws, and this is why Sussan Ley and the Government are currently implementing a review of the system – to weed out services that aren’t supported by evidence, and to improve the efficiency of the medical sector, much the same way the Community Pharmacy Agreement has done for the pharmacy sector.   More... premium




About this page 

This features page will be updated with new opinion pieces regularly. Unlike the hard copy publications that publish all their content once each week/fortnight/month we will publish on a rolling basis.


Got something to say? Fancy yourself as a features writer? 

At AusPharm.net.au we are always on the lookout for people with an opinion to express. If you think you fit the bill, contact Mark Dunn to express an interest or to get further information.


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