Seoul FIP conference explores the soul of pharmacy
A contingency of Kiwi pharmacists joined over 2000 of their overseas counterparts at this year's Federation of International Pharmacists conference in Seoul, Korea. The escalating tensions between North Korea and South Korea meant fewer people attended than last year, but the pharmacists who did go from New Zealand say it was worth the trip. Young pharmacist Naomi Lee went for the first time, and says she enjoyed seeing what people around the world are doing, and how different they are to New Zealand.
"It really broadened my scope of thinking and was a good opportunity to network, meet lots of different people, have debates and share ideas about different topics. " says Miss Lee, who was education rep at Otago School of Pharmacy and graduated in 2015. She says she thinks it would be awesome if more pharmacists went to the conference, which was on 10 – 14 of September and had a main theme, 'Medicines and beyond! The soul of pharmacy'. For Miss Lee, it was a good chance to see what pharmacists were doing overseas, but it also opened her eyes to how much New Zealand is doing. "I didn't realise how advanced we are. A lot of pharmacies don't even vaccinate so when I told people that I do, they were like, "how did you do that!" " she says.
Dale Griffiths presented a seminar on behalf of iPACT on the ongoing success of New Zealand pharmacists in managing patients’ warfarin dosing (CPAMS) and says he got a good reception, despite smaller overall conference attendance than last year. "It went down really well, we had about 120 people there in the middle of a busy lunchtime." He says together with his colleagues, they talked about the guidelines for iPACTT, which they've been developing for two years and are set for publication in October. "Practice is really different all around the world, and there was lots of interest in what we talked about. For example, lot of pharmacists from all over the world aren't allowed to touch patients, not even to check someone's pulse. So we were talking about work we'd done with Atrial Fibrillation week and Heart Rhythm Week and the results we got from that," says Mr Griffiths. Another of his main points was adjustment of doses. "We talked about the process in terms of fitting around patient lifestyle. 80% of the time when we go out of range we can actually find a reason why, and we can discuss that with them. We can examine the situation and I think that's why we're getting really good results."
Mr Griffiths wasn't the only New Zealander making an impact: Jane Dawson won the international FIP Distinguished Practice Award for her work as a member of the federation's Military and Emergency Pharmacy Section (MEP).
President of the Pharmaceutical Society Graeme Smith says the sessions and interactions with pharmacists from around the world were excellent, even though security concerns around the tension on the Korean Peninsula made the conference smaller than last year. "There were excellent sessions on leadership development and mentoring of young pharmacists, and it was great to see Jeff Harrison and Carlo Marra take part in the Global Deans Forum and the FIP Education streams. We want our pharmacy graduates to be world class," says Mr Smith. He says during the World Council meeting there was a round table discussion on the impact of technology in pharmacy. "The principal take away messages were: make pharmacies a technology hub, use technology to save time and concentrate on services that cant be provided by a machine," says Mr Smith. "People still like personal contact with their pharmacist."
Miss Lee says she spoke to people doing research into pediatric vaccines, and making more information available to people, especially in the pediatric area. "There were a lot of hospital studies on dosing and informational availability, as well," she says, and found the talk around new technology advances in pharmacy quite interesting, especially research coming out from Canada around new services.
Mr Griffiths was also complimentary about work being done in Canada. "A colleague over there has developed a number of services in a couple of pharmacies and the amount of money he's able to generate between the two is not insubstantial. It's pushed him and his team into new areas of expertise, which is what we all want," he says, but says funding of services in New Zealand is a limiting factor. "I don't think we're leading the charge in New Zealand but we're not as far behind as we sometimes might think we are. We sit here at the other end of the world, but you go to a big event and see what we're doing is actually really interesting," says Mr Griffiths.
"It's not perfect and we all need to be moving forward. It's good to get out there and see that we're not alone, change is happening throughout the profession."