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Patient –care the key to success in hospital pharmacy

21 December 2016

The fast-paced nature of a busy hospital, where working alongside a multi-disciplinary team and being part of the process of risk assessing patients and ensuring they receive optimum therapy, is an everyday reality for a hospital pharmacist.

Each year, around one-third of UTS: Pharmacy graduates undertake their internships in hospital pharmacy. Luke Harb graduated in 2015 and is currently undertaking his internship at Royal North Shore and Ryde Hospital. He says, “A typical working week in hospital pharmacy involves spending my time doing ward rounds, reviewing patient medication charts, reviewing and organising discharge medications, obtaining thorough medication histories and counselling patients on their discharge medications.”

There are many varied hospital pharmacy roles where collaboration within health care teams is required to make significant interventions and contribute to patient management.  These include:

  • Dispensing Pharmacist
  • Clinical Ward Pharmacist (counselling, attending ward rounds, being part of multidisciplinary teams)
  • Clinical Trial Pharmacist
  • Drug Information Pharmacist
  • Specialist Clinical Pharmacist (e.g. HIV/AIDS, Transplant, and Renal)
  • Manufacturing/Compounding Pharmacist,
  • Cytotoxic/Oncology Pharmacist
  • Total Parenteral Nutrition Pharmacist (pharmacists who coordinate the feeding that bypasses the gastrointestinal tract)
  • eMM Pharmacist (who develop and support electronic medication management systems)

An emerging role within hospital pharmacy is clinical research. UTS Associate Professor Beata Bajorek, a registered pharmacist and inaugural academic pharmacist at Royal North Shore Hospital says, “Hospital pharmacists are undertaking research to address gaps around medication management and quality use of medication, as well as implementation of new models of care and services.

“Hospital pharmacy is seen to be a setting where the pharmacist’s full range of skills and expertise can be applied directly to patient care – so it is a very rewarding career pathway. UTS students do well here as they tend to be driven and proactive, and keen to explore how their knowledge and skills can be optimally utilised.”

Luke Harb agrees, “Working within the hospital system allows you to have uninterrupted time with patients to review all of their medicines, as well as having access to essential blood results and vital signs which assists with performing detailed medication reviews. Hospital pharmacy also allows you to gain exposure to a huge range of unique diseases and off-label uses for medications, so there is always something new to learn almost every day.”

Lecturer Dr Cherie Tsingos-Lucas, a registered pharmacist, previous Specialist Clinical Hospital Pharmacist (HIV/AIDS), Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and current pharmacist immuniser, says that hospital employers are looking for a particular graduate and that this feedback has been used to inform aspects of the Master of Pharmacy course. “In addition to academic competence, employers are placing greater emphasis on experience, communication and ability to learn and adapt to different settings.

“We ensure that all students have the opportunity to gain experience in hospital pharmacy through school-sourced clinical placements. In addition, our rural placement program allows students to get out of their comfort zone and have greater involvement across multidisciplinary teams in both a hospital and community settings. Graduates can draw on that experience in interviews, giving them a unique edge over others.”

Find out more about the UTS: Master of Pharmacy and how you could use your undergraduate science degree to become a pharmacist. pharmacy.uts.edu.au 

Dr Tsingos-Lucas prepares UTS students for external hospital clinical placements

Hospital Simulation rooms     Hospital