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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 P/L, its directors or editorial group unless explicitly stated to be so.


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Hay fever :: John Bell : 1/9/2011 : August and September in Australia are the windy months, and that means all those airborne pollutants and newly sprung pollens are blown into our nasal passages.

Spring Is generally regarded as the start of the peak season for hay fever but the condition  is so common in Australia all year round that the terms seasonal and perennial have been superseded by a new classification: intermittent and persistent.   More... premium

It's who you know :: Justin Lee : 29/8/2011 : Not what you know. Read any book on networking and you are bound to encounter the phrase in some form or other. Whilst this is rarely a problem for extroverts, many introverts, despite boasting enviable academic achievements, are often left lamenting their inability to secure an employment opportunity at the expense of their more well-connected colleagues.

It may seem clichéd but it is entirely true that the vast majority of employment opportunities are never advertised. Some have gone so far as to say that 80% of opportunities fall into this category. Networking then becomes not simply a social activity, rather, a vital component of career progression.   More... premium

Managing incompetence :: Robin Tang : 25/8/2011 : Dealing with a boss who appears to lack competence can be frustrating and mentally and emotionally exhausting.  This may lead to poor motivation, low productivity and a generally flat work environment.  Not an easy issue to deal with but if it happens, how can we manage a situation where a leader lacks competence? 

Here are some tips.   More... premium

E-Health Will Fail Unless Pharmacy and Doctors Have the Lead Roles :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 22/8/2011 : Over 25 years ago the Hawke Labor Government embraced an idea floated at the 1985 Tax Summit for a national identification card for all Australian citizens. It was aimed at bringing together other government identification systems with a view to overcoming the tax avoidance of the Fraser years and preventing health and social security fraud.

The card known as the Australia Card was furiously opposed by the Coalition Opposition and unbeknown to many younger pharmacists by the Pharmacy Guild. In fact many in Government credited the Pharmacy Guild’s campaign against the Australia Card as being instrumental in its abandonment which happened in 1987.   More... premium

Mens sana: Debate continues over combination antidepressant treatment :: Chris Alderman : 18/8/2011 : It will come as no surprise to any dispensing pharmacist that combination treatment with two concurrent antidepressant drugs is currently relatively commonplace in Australia. Although empirical treatment of this type is commonly encountered, this does not necessarily mean that the practice is safe, or for that matter, effective.

A prominent academic psychiatrist who has been a vocal advocate of the practice has added to the debate by publishing similar commentaries in both the Australian Family Physician and the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. In the journal Australasian Psychiatry (2007), the same author published the results of a survey conducted in 2004, at that time promoting combination antidepressant treatment on the basis that 79% of respondents had “already used” combination antidepressants.   More... premium

Customers check my prices, get advice and buy elsewhere :: Bruce Annabel : 16/8/2011 : ‘You laugh at me because I’m different. I laugh at you because you’re all the same’ - Lady Gaga

In today's AusPharm feature, JR Pharmacy Services consultant, Bruce Annabel, highlights the importance of cross channel marketing and of pharmacist / customer engagement.

'Customers drive the pharmacy agenda now more than ever and they are using alternative channels to buy traditional pharmacy lines. So it is no wonder I am commonly asked: ‘What can I do about customers who come into my pharmacy to check my prices but then leave to buy  elsewhere, usually at the warehouse pharmacy or online?’

And some customers don’t even bother coming in now as buying online means they don’t have to!'   More... premium

Collection of under co-payment data by the government :: Tony Rowland : 11/8/2011 : After owning a country pharmacy for 12 years Tony Rowland moved to Canberra to work as Pharmaceutical Adviser with the Health Insurance Commission (now part of Medicare Australia). He has also worked for the Pharmacy Guild and the (now defunct) Victorian Pharmacy Board.

In today's feature he gives us the good oil on what the collection of under co-payment data by the government does, and doesn't, mean for pharmacy.   More... premium

Responding Immediately :: Robin Tang : 11/8/2011 : We live in a time where answers to questions are expected instantly through the click of a few buttons, a phone call or an email.

Next time you're under the pump from a red, exclamation marked email, a voicemail when you're inundated with other work or a request to call back urgently from your employer or a customer, considering these three tips:   More... premium

National Medicines Policy must be honoured :: PSA National President Grant Kardachi : 9/8/2011 : PSA usually doesn’t’ usually comment on business issues but changes to the way medicines are distributed to pharmacies have created a great deal of debate throughout the profession as to whether the wholesaler model of distribution to which we have become accustomed is under threat.

Pfizer’s decision to move from wholesalers to an exclusive direct distribution system with pharmacies caught many in the profession by surprise, and prompted a great deal of discussion as to the viability of the decision for the industry and the long-term impacts it may have.   More... premium

Joy in your work :: Robin Tang : 4/8/2011 : We’ve all been there.  Wake up in the morning with a dreadful feeling that overwhelms you when you realise that there are 5 more days of work to go before the weekend! You have only one reason to work - it sustains you financially.

At its best, our workplace allows us to learn, grow and be challenged as individuals and as a team. Unfortunately, when work reduces our self confidence and our self esteem and we become unmotivated, it is time to question ourselves: How do I bring enjoyment back to work?    More... premium

When does safety matter? :: Justin Lee : 2/8/2011 : Safety has been a hot topic in the news with the grounding of Tiger Airways by Australia’s air safety watchdog, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). This follows reports that CASA had been monitoring a string of safety breaches by the budget airline over a period of time. Running in parallel in the pharma media were numerous comments by a variety of influential pharmacists on the perceived oversupply of pharmacists in the workforce and corresponding decline in employee community pharmacist wages. 
A link between the two topics above started to form in my mind based on conversations I had with a number of early career pharmacists (ECP). One of these was an ECP owner who had worked in a variety of pharmacies in the lead-up to the purchase of his first pharmacy a couple of years ago.   More... premium

The Real Team :: Robin Tang : 28/7/2011 : Have you ever asked yourself  whether your team is a ‘real’ team?  Is there a difference between a ‘group’ of people and a ‘team’ of people? 

Most managers / leaders focus on building individual relationships within their group, managing person by person and paying too little attention to the collective performance of the team.    More... premium

Dealing with dementia :: John Bell : 28/7/2011 : More than a quarter of a million Australians are directly affected by dementia and this figure is predicted to rise to more than a million people over the next 40 years. For many of these people, their families and their carers, pharmacies are the first port of call for information about the condition and for assistance with managing it.

As yet there is no cure for dementia and the way our brain and nervous system works is not yet fully understood. Thus it is all the more remarkable that it was the German neurologist, Alois Alzheimer, born nearly 150 years ago, who is credited as being the first to identify and give his name to a condition that has now become so common in the developed world.   More... premium

Pharmacists and mental health :: Liesel Wett : 25/7/2011 : The mental health debate has taken a new twist with the move by the Government to reverse the Budget decision to cut allied health worker funding under the Better Access scheme.

With mental health again in the spotlight, it is timely to highlight the role pharmacists can, and should play in the treatment of mental health.   More... premium

I have become addicted to pharmacy :: Veronica Nou : 18/7/2011 : 'Listers may know that Sydney pharmacist and occasional AusPharm columnist Veronica Nou gave birth to a healthy baby girl (Natalie) last week. Just prior to entering her 'confinement', she sent along the following.

"I have become addicted to pharmacy.
This only lends weight to my assertion that pharmacy as a career is a contagious disease. No, really. Once upon a time, it was something I fell into, thanks to the gentle prodding of my dad. Now, it seems that every time I turn around there are more pharmacists coming out of the woodwork. My sister has just passed her oral exam to become one; my brother and cousin are both studying to do this, and my husband completed a Masters as his third degree."
   More... premium

Retaining Employees :: Robin Tang : 14/7/2011 : Successful businesses always revolve around a team that is cohesive and where individuals, through great individual talents and skills, complement each other.  As a leader / manager of a business, how do you ensure that you keep your star employees? 

Here are some tips.   More... premium

Pharmacists Ignore Social Media At Their Peril :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 12/7/2011 : Pharmacists over 40 years old may not have noticed it but over  the last few weeks pharmacy issues were front and centre of a campaign using social media. But it wasn't the Pharmacy organisations that catapulted Pharmacy into the world of Facebook and the Twitterverse but rather a cleverly run campaign by the Consumer Health Forum against the Government's drug deferrals policy which has seen over 21 drugs denied access to the PBS.

It’s a campaign that is about to be replicated by the wholesalers organisation, the National Pharmaceutical Services Association and many banner groups over the Direct to Pharmacy supply changes embraced by the world's biggest drug manufacturer, Pfizer.   More... premium

Evaluate for High Performance :: Robin Tang : 7/7/2011 : Our work performance can be inconsistent - some days we feel completely on top of things and other days we just get by.  Human performances are inconsistent - even world class athletes can have off days.  The key to high class performance is to maintain a consistently high standard, day in and day out. 

Many managers / owners tend to focus on their team members' and employees' shortcomings when it comes to evaluation and providing feedback and comments. This can lead to negativity and lack of confidence.  So how do we evaluate with the aim of producing high performance?    More... premium

Success with Professional Services – making it happen :: Aaron D'Souza : 5/7/2011 : I’m a bit anxious at the moment.  My sister just messaged me saying her first born baby is on the way.  It’s the first of the next generation of our family and will be an exciting addition, challenge and change for all of us; most of all for my sister Bronia and her husband Eric.

While this seems daunting, I see making preparations as core components of any period of change: getting the right stuff (infrastructure), making sure there are helping hands (staffing) and fine-tuning a routine (workflow).  We’re all familiar with these components in pharmacy.  So when it comes to the professional services of 5CPA I think we’re not dealing with a first-born, we’re more like experienced parents.    More... premium

Re-align your team :: Robin Tang : 30/6/2011 : Sometimes in a workplace, individuals work really hard on a task without fully understanding how their efforts actually contribute to overall organisational goals. 

Here are some tips on re-alignment that might help you find direction the next time your team is unsure where it is heading and why.   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 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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