Significant investments continue to be made in the future of New Zealand’s health workforce with the announcement that 60 more pharmacists a year will have the opportunity to be upskilled and better support the communities they live in.
Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand is partnering with Waipapa Taumata Rau University of Auckland and Te Whare Wānanga o Ōtākou University of Otago, to fund more places across both schools’ Pharmacist Prescribing programmes from 2024 to 2026. The funding injection of almost $5 million covers study fees, travel grants and Designated Medical Practitioner support so participants can complete the Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Pharmacy in Prescribing.
The aim of the part-time postgraduate programmes is to increase the number of qualified trained professionals able to prescribe for patients under their care. It will specifically support and target qualified Māori, Pacific, and rural candidates as well as other demographics.
John Snook, Director Workforce Planning and Development for Te Whatu Ora said the Health Workforce Plan 2023/24 had committed to growing training numbers in priority areas to get New Zealand to a sustainable workforce faster.
“One key initiative we’ve undertaken is to expand and fund training pathways for 60 additional pharmacy prescribers per year across the motu,” John Snook said.
“Pharmacist prescribers have specialised knowledge about medicines and by upskilling our pharmacists, our communities benefit by having improved access to care, both to medicines, treatment plans and education about the best way to manage their medicines. It also frees up other practitioners to help more patients, due to the collaborative nature of the work with other healthcare professionals.
“Providing a travel grant to participants means it opens up these programmes to people across the motu, not just those based in Auckland and Dunedin.”
Pharmacist prescribers are part of multi-disciplinary clinical teams and are trained to work in partnership with patients and medical practitioners to prescribe medicines and enhance their use by the patient.
Associate Professor Shane Scahill, Head of the University of Auckland’s School of Pharmacy, said that their programme has been designed to deliver pharmacist prescribers who can provide a safe and effective, equitable and patient-centred prescribing service.
“We offer the course outside business hours to suit pharmacists in the workforce, providing flexibility to meet student needs and encourage collaboration between participants that aligns to the Pharmacy Prescriber working environment. The additional funding means our university can now offer the course on annual basis.”
University of Otago Dean of the School of Pharmacy Professor Carlo Marra is thrilled with the announcement.
“Pharmacist prescribers are vital to the health outcomes of New Zealanders, especially given the shortage of health professionals. We look forward to welcoming students to our programme next year.”
Each School of Pharmacy will deliver an extra 30 training places annually, with a total of 80 training places available in 2024 across the two schools.
Media Contact: Julia Goode 021 223 2141
Spokespeople are available for interview, including current pharmacist prescribers in Christchurch.
Notes for reporters:
The Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Pharmacy in Prescribing is a 60-point level 8 qualification that enables pharmacists, as part of a multidisciplinary health team, to participate in as well as evaluate and challenge prescribing practice.
Based on the diagnosis of a medical practitioner, and depending on the clinical needs of the patient, a Pharmacist Prescriber can:
• assess the effectiveness of a patient’s current medicines
• review and interprets test results
• make a prescribing decision to
- modify the dosage of an existing medicine
- initiate a new medicine
- discontinue an unnecessary medicine.
See https://pharmacycouncil.org.nz/public/pharmacist-scopes-of-practice/ for more information on what a pharmacy prescriber can do.
Each course is delivered in a different way and more information about each course can found on the Universities websites: https://www.otago.ac.nz/pharmacy/postgraduate/professional-programmes/pharmacist-prescriber and https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/fmhs/study-with-us/specialisations/pgcertclinpharm/prescribing.html.
Pharmacist prescribing courses were introduced to Aotearoa New Zealand in 2012. As at 30 June 2023, there were 51 pharmacist prescribers currently registered to work in New Zealand.