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New Pharmacy Board Requirements Make Good Business Sense

The Australian College of Pharmacy

The Pharmacy Board of Australia released an updated registration standard for continuing professional development (CPD)i which was effective from 1 December 2015.

The revision strengthened the CPD requirements for pharmacists and includes four key requirements:

  1. Planning – you need to develop a CPD plan on an annual basis, which will assist in identifying areas in need of further development. This includes reflecting on your role and identifying the competencies that apply to your scope of practice.
  2. Doing – you still need to complete 40 credits of CPD, with not more than 20 credits from Group 1 activities. You need to ensure that your activities come from a range of sources. You need to select CPD activities which are relevant to your scope of practice and which address any competency gaps identified in Step 1.
  3. Recording – you need to maintain detailed records of activities undertaken, ensure that these records can be verified and retain records for three years.
  4. Reflecting – in addition to reflecting on what your knowledge and skills gaps are (when you develop your CPD plan), you may also reflect on whether the CPD you chose addressed your learning needs. If the activity was not quite right, plan another activity to better address your learning need. You may also reflect on any feedback you receive, for example, from a performance appraisal. Reflect and factor how to address the feedback into your CPD plan.

The College believes that it is not only good professional practice for individuals to plan to improve their knowledge and skills, but it makes good business sense too.

Efficient and effective achievement of health, professional practice and business outcomes by the pharmacy depends on the capabilities of the staff.

Pharmacies may not be maximising the opportunities available to them if they don’t ensure that staff are trained to provide the services outlined in the pharmacy’s business plan. In 2011, the estimated value of the consumer healthcare market in Australia was around $4 billion with 5% growth annuallyii, iii. What is the opportunity cost to the pharmacy when attempting to drive growth within the vitamins and minerals category if staff capabilities in this area are ‘forgotten’? Knowledgeable staff are important to gaining and keeping customers, and some planning and staff development will produce a return on investment.

The College is aware, from research conducted for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, that there appears to be a large knowledge gap about the most appropriate therapy involving patients with symptoms suggestive of reflux, for example. In a mystery shopper scenario, the patient had been taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain reliever for a sore back. This may have caused their reflux.

The results of the mystery shopper visits showed that:

  • The majority of pharmacies (57%) supplied an H2 antagonist (S2 or unscheduled) or an unscheduled antacid (19%).
  • Despite expert consensus recommending the use of non-prescription PPIs for the treatment of GORD, only 17% of pharmacies recommended Somac® or similar (S3).

This may be due to a lack of education (of pharmacy assistants and pharmacists) and therefore awareness of the place of the S3 alternative in therapy.
The research also indicated this lack of awareness/understanding is impacting on community pharmacy financial performance.
Assuming one box of Somac is sold per week rather than Zantac, the lost opportunity to community pharmacy of a potential knowledge gap is $418,912 GP$ per year.

The College believes that pharmacies that spend the time to plan a direction for staff development enjoy a return on that investment. In the reflux scenario, if staff were trained on the best practice approach to GORD management, good clinical practice would have resulted in good business practice.

Pharmacists who plan their CPD are assured that their CPD is more relevant and more effectively aligned to help them achieve both career and workplace objectives. This means their efforts are both cost effective and an efficient use of their time.

Without a CPD plan, it’s easy to fall into the trap of selecting CPD opportunistically. That is, something from a pharmacy publication or an online advertisement catches your interest. In reality, you undertake CPD that’s placed in front of you that someone else has decided you need to know. The risk is that it may contribute very little to your personal or business objectives.

You may have competency gaps you’re not addressing and you could be unaware of the importance of addressing those gaps. The classic — you don’t know what you don’t know!

The College has an easy-to-use system to record your annual CPD plan. Figure 1 shows an example of one objective from an individual pharmacy owner’s CPD plan.

The Australian College of Pharmacy - New Pharmacy Board Requirements Make Good Business Sense - News

By considering business objectives and the knowledge and skills required to achieve those objectives, the owner pharmacist can take the first step to deliver better outcomes for patients and for the pharmacy’s bottom line. The owner pharmacist’s CPD plan becomes a framework which may be used to align education activities for all staff.

There’s a saying, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. For a small investment in time to plan your CPD, the returns to your pharmacy could include:

  • Improvement in staff skills and knowledge, including clinical skills, team work, problem solving, and communication
  • Improved business performance productivity and efficiency
  • Improved compliance with legal requirements and professional standards
  • A high level of staff motivation, as well as shared attitudes and values
  • A higher return on your change management efforts
  • Improved quality of service and customer satisfaction.

The College’s online system has been designed to support competency-based planning and recording of CPD. We have a comprehensive library of CPD activities and a recording system for all CPD credit groups. Give us a call — we’re here to help pharmacists achieve their professional goals and the Board’s revised CPD requirements.


i Registration Standard: Continuing Professional Development. Pharmacy Board of Australia
ii Nielsen Scan Data Year End Pharmacy and Grocery Combined. Extrapolated for Health Food Channel
iii AC Neilson 2012 as per personal communication Pharmacy Guild of Australia December 2015

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