Pharmacists are primarily trained in medicines use. They add expert insight and skills when medicines are used to treat, prevent, or manage health conditions. They also have a broad knowledge of common health conditions and how the human body functions. Pharmacists must complete a four-year degree and a one-year period of supervised workplace training under an experienced pharmacist to register in their own right. However, the learning does not end there; all pharmacists are required to engage in continuing professional development that ensures that their knowledge and skills remain relevant to current practice.
Pharmacists work in a wide range of roles, but most people will have contact with their pharmacist in a community pharmacy setting. In this setting, retail staff, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy accuracy checking technicians often support the pharmacist, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the pharmacist to ensure that the health services provided to you are safe and effective.
Pharmacists in community settings may offer a variety of health services:
Pharmacists apply annually for a practising certificate. The Pharmacy Council will only issue a certificate if it is assured the pharmacist is competent and fit to practise (i.e. meeting continuing professional development requirements, fitness to practice declaration).
This is one mechanism that the Pharmacy Council uses to assure members of the public that their pharmacist is able to provide services to expected levels of quality and safety. You can check the practising status of any pharmacist on the online register of pharmacists.
As a registered health practitioner, pharmacists must behave professionally with the patient’s best interests in mind, while working to legal and ethical obligations. The Pharmacy Council sets standards for pharmacists’ practice. These expected levels of practice have been grouped under the six following themes. A full description of these standards can be found in the Competence Standards for the Pharmacy Profession.
If not used properly medicines can be harmful. Because of this, you should leave the pharmacy feeling comfortable that you understand how to use the selected treatment. If unsure, ask your pharmacist:
If you are unhappy with a health service received from a pharmacist, you should first talk to them about your concerns. Your pharmacist will take your concerns or complaint seriously and, in most cases, open communication can clarify any issues and lead to a solution.
If this does not result in a satisfactory result or if you feel uncomfortable approaching the pharmacist directly, you may make a formal complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner. The Health and Disability Commissioner will decide whether your complaint will be investigated and whether your rights under the Code of Consumers’ Rights have been breached.
If you have concerns about a pharmacist’s physical or mental ability to practise safely, you can notify the Pharmacy Council. As a member of the public you may notify the Council of your concerns, but it is often useful to talk to another pharmacist about these before you make a formal notification. To find out more about lodging a complaint or raising concerns please visit our website.