The Rural Pharmacy Practice Landscape: Challenges and Motivators
Received 29 October 2019
Accepted for publication 4 February 2020
Published 2 March 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 227—234
Checked for plagiarism Yes
Review by Single-blind
Peer reviewer comments 2
Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser
Catherine A Hays,1 Selina M Taylor,1 Beverley D Glass2
1Centre for Rural and Remote Health, James Cook University, Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia; 2Pharmacy, College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Correspondence: Catherine A Hays
Centre for Rural and Remote Health, James Cook University, PO Box 2572, Mount Isa, Queensland 4825 Australia
Tel +61 7 4745 4500
Fax +61 7 4749 5130
Background: Health outcome delivery for rural and remote Australian communities is challenged by the maldistribution of the pharmacy workforce. High staff turnover rates, reduced pharmacist numbers, and reliance on temporary staff have placed great strain on both state health services and rural community pharmacies. However, recent changes to the demographic profile of the rural pharmacist including a lower average age and increased time spent in rural practice highlights a more positive future for the delivery of better health outcomes for rural communities. The aim of this study was to investigate the factors that motivate and challenge pharmacists’ choice to practice rurally.
Methods: Rural pharmacists were invited to participate in semi-structured interviews using purposive non-probability sampling. Twelve pharmacists were interviewed with early-, middle- and late-career pharmacists represented. Participants described their experiences of working and living in rural and remote locations. Three themes emerged: workforce, practice environment and social factors, which were examined to determine the underlying challenges and motivators impacting rural and remote pharmacy practice.
Results: Lack of staff presented a workforce challenge, while motivators included potential for expanded scope of practice and working as part of a multidisciplinary team. While social isolation has often been presented as a challenge, an emerging theme highlighted that this may no longer be true, and that notions of “rural and remote communities as socially isolated was a stigma that needed to be stopped”.
Conclusion: This study highlights that despite the challenges rural pharmacists face, there is a shift happening that could deliver better health outcomes for isolated communities. However, for this to gain momentum, it is important to examine both the challenges and motivators of rural pharmacy practice to provide a platform for the development and implementation of appropriate frameworks and programs to better support the rural pharmacy workforce.
Keywords: pharmacy, workforce, rural and remote, health outcomes
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