NAPSA Advanced Practice Pharmacist Framework Position Statement
On October 12th 2016, the Australian Pharmacy Council (APC) ended the National Credentialing Program of Advanced Practice Pharmacists due to sustainability issuesı.
The Advanced Practice Pharmacist Framework (APPF) is recognised by the National Pharmacy Students' Association (NAPSA) and its members as an integral part of the progression of the pharmacy profession.
This document outlines the position of NAPSA on the APPF, and entails a series of proposals to be put forward to the Pharmacy Practitioner Development Committee (PPDC), which NAPSA has representation on.
The APPF was an initiative of the PPDC developed in 2012 in response to the National Competency Standards review in 2010². The APPF was designed to recognise the achievements of pharmacists who demonstrate a significantly higher level of expertise and performance, developed through experience in practice, than from initial registration. The APC was recognised as an appropriate body to assess and provide credentialing for Advanced Practice Pharmacists in accordance with the APPF.
Evaluation and implications of the APPF
The development of the APPF gives rise to the concept of having elite pharmacy practitioners within the profession, assessing pharmacists against their performance rather than scope of practice. This is important as it is expected that all pharmacists have the same baseline clinical knowledge from studying the same course, and graduating with the same degree. It is the experience gained from working in different environments and/or further post-graduate study that allows some pharmacists to develop, expand and specialise their role in optimising patient care. The APPF hence presents a great opportunity for pharmacists to be acknowledged for their active learning and not only allows the significant advancement in skills and competencies of these pharmacists to be acknowledged; but in addition, recognises the substantial impact and contributions they make to health care - including different areas from clinical, education, research, leadership and management, to collaboration, communication and teamwork both within and outside the pharmacy profession. The fact that this program has been ceased, at a time where within our profession there has been ongoing struggle to not only show our worth as pharmacists but to find our place within health care, is distressing to say the least.
NAPSA believes it is critical for students to have the opportunity, prior to the onset of graduation, to aspire for great progression within a career which is so very versatile. The 2015 National Pharmacy Students' Survey (NPSS) showed 49% of Australian pharmacy students are concerned about career advancement and struggle for identity in health care provision³; it is one of the major reasons why many young pharmacists are leaving the profession. This is a staggering figure which shows that, despite progressions in establishing and recognising professional development, students remain distressed over the perceived lack of opportunities within this profession.
A credential that recognises professional growth, surpassing the initial registration, will gain the respect of not only other healthcare professions but also patients, who put their health in the hands of pharmacists. Furthermore, it will provide not only a pathway to exert high standards of healthcare but also an understanding of what is required to reach this level and beyond.
While there is currently little opportunity for financial reward for being an Advanced Practice Pharmacist, pharmacists can expect personal and professional reward. For example, enhanced positive patient health outcomes, job satisfaction in making a significant contribution to the health profession, as well as satisfaction of peer recognition. In a time where there is said to be an oversupply of pharmacists, a reward is that extra qualification that will stand an individual out from the rest and be the point of differentiation when applying to positions.
NAPSA has recommended several proposed actions to the PPDC, which were taken into consideration upon re-evaluation of the APPF. NAPSA anticipates that the PPDC will resolve the issues which led to the discontinuation of the APPF and have it re-established with a long-term sustainable model in the near future.
The 2015 NPSS survey demonstrated that 1 in 3 pharmacy students are unaware of career advancement opportunities such as national credentialing3. Whether it is this similar lack of knowledge and awareness regarding the program and what it provides, or simply a lack of enthusiasm among pharmacists, that prevented minimum targets to be met during the pilot program, NAPSA would like to see action from the industry to improve the recognition process so that a sustainable model can be achieved.
NAPSA sought the opinions and comments from those involved within the PPDC and the pilot program of the APPF, in addition to its members and alumni to write this position statement. NAPSA would like to thank them for their support and contribution. A special thanks also goes to:
- Sam Turner, Intern Pharmacist at Terry White Chemists Brookside
- Debbie Rigby, Advanced Practice Pharmacist
- Georgina Twomey, President of The Australian College of Pharmacy
Pharmacy Awareness Chair
Director of Public Relations
References Australian Pharmacy Council 2016, National Credentialing Program, Austalia, viewed 19 october 2016, <https://www.pharmacycouncil.org.au/pharmacists/australian-nz-pharmacists/national-credentialing-program/>.
Australian Pharmacy Council 2016, National Credentialing Program, Austalia, viewed 19 october 2016, <https://www.pharmacycouncil.org.au/pharmacists/australian-nz-pharmacists/national-credentialing-program/>.