First-of-its-kind pharmacy arms itself for future practices

12 October 2017

The University of Queensland’s School of Pharmacy is celebrating the opening of a new community pharmacy within its Pharmacy Australia Centre of Excellence (PACE) precinct.

Located within Cornwall St Medical Centre, the facility, which operates as a commercial, working pharmacy independent of the School, is Australia’s first “teaching pharmacy”.

The first batch of pharmacy students on placement were welcomed in January 2017.

Chief Executive Officer of UQ Health Care Darryl Grundy said the establishment of the pharmacy was the result of extensive planning over a number of years, assisted by the expertise and industry partnerships of his team.

“Ever since the medical centre opened in 2011, we’ve been working towards incorporating a pharmacy,” said Mr Grundy.

A UQ School of Pharmacy alum himself, Mr Grundy is excited for the teaching prospects brought forward by the new facility.

“There are many regulations and restrictions surrounding a new pharmacy, so to see it in operation is a great achievement for us.”

Upon entering, the Amcal+ pharmacy feels familiar, offering the high standards expected of a modern commercial pharmacy. The interior design was well considered by assessing the needs of patients, and financially assisted by Health Workforce Australia.

Collaborating within the Sigma brand of pharmacies, the joint approach has allowed for a fully functioning community-minded pharmacy to be added to the precinct of health providers.

A main point of difference, however, is the screen in front of the dispensary showing the movements of a robotic arm, finding and dispensing medications on command.

While a talking point, this arm points to the future of pharmacy practice.

The technology lends itself not only to future-proofing the facility, but to new and improving pharmacy practices, illustrating a shift in community health care.

Director of the Amcal+ pharmacy at PACE Sanam Souzani said the focus was no longer on the traditional “sticking labels on boxes” approach, but rather a 21st century level of service.

“By employing the assistance of German robotic technology, pharmacists will be brought forward to engage with patients and hold a greater presence within community health care,” Ms Souzani said.

Professor Peter Little AM, Head of the School of Pharmacy As health care providers are becoming increasingly collaborative across disciplines, pharmacy finds its piece of the health care puzzle fitting within the community by means of education, providing a greater and active outward-facing presence.

Professor Peter Little AM, Head of the School of Pharmacy (pictured), said the new facility will prepare students for the changing landscape of health care systems, highlighting the need for balanced roles of practice, teaching and research.

“This pharmacy, through its own activities and interactions with the UQ School of Pharmacy, has a role in each of these essential facets of modern health care, and so it is the ideal model of a future community pharmacy,” Professor Little said.

Words: Alice Graham

Photos: Anjanette Webb