Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist December 2013 Contents Australian Pharmacist December 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 31
After listening to Pharmacy Professor
Zubin Austin from the University of
Toronto in Canada at PAC13 in Brisbane in
October, I now wonder if that pharmacist
would have been so keen to walk toward
the door with me if I had asked a simple
yes/no question which demanded
a definitive answer. I like to think he
The title of Professor Austin's address
was: Are pharmacists their own worst
enemy. It highlighted his research into
pharmacists' personality traits that make
it hard for them to adapt to change,
practice change in particular.
The problem he said, was that
pharmacists are too risk averse and are
He said research had shown a typical
average pharmacist's profile indicated:
• a lack of confidence,
• fear of new responsibility,
• paralysis in the face of ambiguity
• a strong need for approval from others,
and most importantly
• risk aversion.
Professor Austin said that in his research,
physicians who had been surveyed
complained that when they asked
pharmacists an X or Y question all they
got was lots of information which left
them feeling that the pharmacist didn't
know the answer.
In one study he found that 65% of
pharmacists where characterised as
conflict avoiders while 65% of family
physicians were characterised as 'forcers.'
He summed up his talk with a quote
that pharmacists: 'would rather
dispense 100 prescriptions than do one
pharmaceutical opinion, what if I get
One of the jokes he used in the
introduction was: 'How many pharmacists
does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: 'None, I'm perfectly happy sitting
here in the dark thank you.'
There is nothing new in all of this.
Professor Austin's research confirmed
what many have suspected for years.
At the opening of CPExpo in Sydney in
June PSA NSW Branch President, John
Bronger said, 'I was recently reminded
of a speech I made 10 years ago where
in part I lamented the need for more
'party people' in pharmacy. At the time
I was discussing the future of pharmacy
-- that it would include more professional
services and face-to-face contact with the
public -- and wanted to make the point
that we need pharmacists who thrive on
'So, yes, we need 'people people' -- those
whose natures encourage them to
engage with others -- but we also need
more of you... pharmacists who are
seriously motivated to enhance their
professional capabilities and ready to
make a difference to the serious issue of
the health of our customers'. (see page 20
for more information)
Another presenter at PAC13 in October
was Associate Professor Geoff Sussman
who is the complete opposite of the
risk-averse pharmacist -- the exception
that proves the rule!
His Sunday afternoon Wound Care
lectures were heavily attended. His rapid
fire, interactive sessions leave no doubt
that he is not a risk averse introvert.
Over his long career Geoff has almost
single-handedly established wound care
as a pharmacy role. In the process he has
become world renowned for his expertise.
Geoff has also been involved in amateur
and professional theatre all his life.
When asked why he chose pharmacy
he said that he completed a basic
science course at high school when he
'I went into pharmacy because my mates
did pharmacy so I thought, "I'll do it too".
'I don't fit the [pharmacist] mould - I take
risks and I'm outgoing. I agree with Zubin
Austin. I'm a person who not only thinks
but also acts!
'To be relevant in the 21st century
pharmacists need to come out from
behind the white coat screen. They must
become an active part of the multi
disciplinary health team, communicate
and be proactive.
'Don't wait for it to come to you. It may
never happen. Go out and make it
happen!' he said.
'If you've got the skills use them.
Don't rely on your undergraduate training
you must gain new and greater skills and
then use them to change practice'.
it take to change a
None, I'm perfectly happy
sitting here in the dark
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