World Pharmacists Day 2020

Pharmacists are not just medicines experts, but also the most accessible healthcare providers in the community. They play critical roles in the community, hospitals and other settings by supporting patients to take their medicines safely.

To recognise the contribution of pharmacists, especially during the COVID-19 global pandemic, the theme of this year’s World Pharmacist Day (25 September) is Transforming Global Health.

Beyond dispensing and advising about medicines, pharmacists support local and global health services by providing guidance on healthy living, vaccinating to prevent disease, improving quality of life, developing pharmaceutical policy and conducting research on medicines.


The Centre for Medicine Use and Safety (CMUS) conducts and implements research to improve pharmacy best practice as well as address future needs and opportunities in healthcare. As we recognise the importance of World Pharmacist Day, we’re highlighting just some of the important work that CMUS and collaborators perform to ensure medicines are used safely and effectively.

Professor Michael Dooley and Dr Erica Tong – Improving medication error with multidisciplinary collaborative clinical practice research

Medication errors are a leading avoidable harm in health care internationally. Globally, the cost associated with medication errors has been estimated at US $42 billion annually, not counting lost wages, productivity or health care costs. This represents almost 1% of global expenditure on health. Pharmacists are well placed to provide guidance on this issue both in hospital and community settings.

To address medication errors, CMUS and Alfred Health have collaborated on the Partnered Pharmacist Medication Charting (PPMC) Model. Their work has revolutionised clinical practice in Victoria and beyond. The model, led by Dr Tong, was developed in consult with senior medical staff and designed to include a credentialing program. The program was initially implemented in the General Medical Unit and Emergency Short Stay Unit. However, further evaluation revealed that the PPMC model was extremely effective and rolled out across even sites in Victoria. Over 9000 patients have been recruited into the study, resulting in significant changes across all of pharmacy services to general medical units. Over 150 pharmacists have been credentialed for partnered medication pharmacist charting in Victoria.

This landmark study was the largest of its type internationally and demonstrated that the PPMC model not only reduced medication errors but also reduced in-hospital length of stay. The results of this study also showed that the model has both economic and safety implications and helped to inform the implementation of pharmacist prescribing models in Australians hospitals.

Following the success of the PPMC model across General Medical units in Victoria, Safer Care Victoria have committed over $1.5m to the model being scaled to 24 rural and regional hospitals and seven haematology and oncology units across Victoria in 2020/21.

Most recently, the PPMC model has led to the implementation of a 24-hour clinical pharmacy service in both the General Medical Unit and Intensive Care Unit at Alfred Health as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The service has firmly placed pharmacists in the front line alongside their medical and nursing colleagues to ensure safe medication use across the hospital, 24 hours a day.

Senior clinical pharmacists at Alfred Health undertaking their PhD’s with Professor Michael Dooley include John Coutsouvelis (oncology and haematology), Steve Ivulich (lung transplantation), Christina Roman (Emergency Medicine) are Bianca Levkovich (Critical care) are leading and expanding collaborative research projects in these areas.

Find out more about this program here.

John Jackson – Project Pharmacist

Project Pharmacist was established in recognition of the potential to make greater use of pharmacists’ expertise in community pharmacy. Led by John Jackson from CMUS, it aims to facilitate enhanced roles for pharmacists in primary care that create both patient benefits and rewarding careers. It addresses two key issues; 1.identifying and addressing factors that prevent pharmacists working to their full scope of practice and 2.determining potential roles that are soundly based on pharmacists’ knowledge and skills.

An objective of Project Pharmacist has been to translate clinical activities that pharmacists have been educated and trained to perform into sustainable, employable positions.

In 2017, Project Pharmacist completed the development of a Framework for Enhanced Roles for the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. To do this, more than sixty historic and emerging functions performed by pharmacists in primary care were identified. These functions were categorised into three themes; medication management, primary care services and public health services, and a conceptual model of practice was created to provide a visual depiction of pharmacists’ activities in primary care.

Consolidating these functions into distinct employable positions, four roles emerged as providing the greatest potential benefit. Pharmacists embedded in general medical practices, taking a more sustained role in residential aged care facilities, being appointed to work as internal consultants to home nursing services and providing adherence support programs in community pharmacies for patients on multiple chronic medicines.

In addition to his role in Project Pharmacist, John Jackson is President of the Western Pacific Pharmaceutical Forum which assists pharmacy associations in the East Asian and Pacific regions to advance pharmacist’ practice. With the assistance of CMUS researcher Suzanne Caliph, CMUS and Australian pharmacy practice is being shared with pharmacists globally.

Find out more about Project Pharmacist here.