Full Scope of Practice, Pharmacist’s Next Spinning Plate

As community pharmacists, we are no strangers to spinning multiple plates. From being clinicians to stock controllers, counsellors to human resource officers, we somehow focus on many things at once. But, with full-scope of practice looming ever closer, what happens when we add more plates to the mix?

The reality is, that if we continue business as usual, adding more responsibilities to pharmacists, burnout rates will skyrocket, and further discontentment will be fuelled as the expectation versus the reality fails to stack up. Of course, some pharmacies are already succeeding and some will prepare and prepare well. Others though will fall into the trap and make big-box solutions for individual stores. These pharmacies will inevitably see a mixed bag of results as nuances, staff personalities, current systems and resources continue to get overlooked.

With the focus on clinical upskilling, it leaves the supporting skills that will make full-scope of practice a universal success story, an afterthought.

This begs the question, what can pharmacies do right now to help prepare for the opportunities that lay ahead?

The answer on the surface is simple…don’t leave the pharmacists spinning all the plates.

Now more than ever we need engaged teams. Teams that are willing to stretch, give higher levels of discretionary effort and be comfortable with discomfort. When speaking of discomfort, it’s not physical but the discomfort that comes from change, challenging conversations, feedback and learning something new.

If we dive beneath this answer, here are some practical things you can do:

1. Assess the current state of your pharmacy and your staff

What systems are in place? Where are the gaps and opportunities for improvement? Do you know what your team’s aspirations, concerns and ideas are for the future of full scope of practice?

By starting with open conversations and taking stock of where you are, you identify where there are opportunities to share the load and who might be willing to upskill and where. These conversations also increase your perspective, obtaining multiple viewpoints from within the pharmacy to ensure that your view is not narrowed to that of your own.

2. Build the tools before you need to use them.

Just like learning to read, counsel a patient or complete a vaccination, people need to learn the tools before they can put the process together. Communicating effectively, having challenging conversations, problem-solving and navigating change are the same. Your staff need to have the tools to engage in these activities before they get going.

In pharmacy, very few are trained with these skills, that’s where upskilling our team with power skills such as emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills becomes paramount.

3. Train your pharmacists to lead

Not every pharmacist has an interest in management. Every pharmacist should however have the tools to delegate, communicate, engage others and do it all with empathy. Without these skills, they cannot effectively pass or share the ‘spinning plates’ with others. In terms of full scope of practice, this means new endeavours don’t get off the ground or other important components of the pharmacy fall. This impacts the pharmacist, the team and the pharmacy’s bottom line.

By thinking more broadly about what full scope of practice is going to take to be achieved and investing in the development of the supporting, power skills required, we can equip our team to not only handle the practical demands but also to thrive in an evolving pharmacy landscape.

Expanding Team Capacity Webinar Series

I invite you and your team to join me and learn five core elements for expanding team capacity.

Pharmacies face ongoing changes and challenges that demand CPD solutions beyond clinical training. Our series goes beyond the norm, addressing critical challenges that derail teams and prevent growth such as:

  • Staff conflict
  • Misunderstandings from poor (or non-existent) communication
  • Unconscious bias and the stories staff tell themselves
  • Reluctance to change

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