Spring Pharmacy GRIT features a specially commissioned artwork by rising Indigenous artist Lorraine Kabbindi White.

Reflection and respect: Pharmacists showing GRIT in the Top End

The latest issue of the new member-driven magazine of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) is the most provocative yet, celebrating pharmacists’ determination to build reflection and respect into remote and regional practice, following pharmacists ‘without borders’ around the globe, and visiting an outreach pharmacy service for the homeless in Scotland.
SHPA Chief Executive Ms Kristin Michaels says the ‘Reflection and respect’ issue of Pharmacy Growth, Research, Innovation and Training (GRIT) is inspired by SHPA members in emerging roles, taking their skills far beyond the usual settings of pharmacy practice, leading with pharmacists and technicians providing expansive pharmacy care in Australia’s Top End rural and remote communities.
‘Pharmacy GRIT provides exciting insight into the work SHPA members are doing to close the gap in Indigenous and remote health care, not just through innovative programs using new technology, but by connecting and collaborating with patients, carers and local health care providers.
‘Working across vast distances and in often harsh climates, tools such as telepharmacy are crucial, but the real ingredients of success are providing services in language, working closely with Aboriginal Health Practitioners and ensuring that outpatient services and selfcare keep patients on country.’
In the cover feature, Bhavini Patel, Executive Director of Medicines Management for NT Health shares her transition from UK backpacker to major player in the development of clinical pharmacy services at Royal Darwin Hospital and the challenges and opportunities of working in the Top End of the NT.
‘Once you come to know and respect the resilience of Aboriginal patients and colleagues and the immense strength left in their cultures, you realise it’s up to us as pharmacists and technicians to develop the skills required to do our job properly,’ she says.
‘We must learn more to connect and communicate with our patients.’ Communication is also key in delivering culturally-appropriate mental health services, says Alice Gilbert who, with Amelia Arandiga, developed the Mental Health Pharmacist role for the Top End Health Service. 

‘Hearing voices that others cannot, for example, might be a blessing in Aboriginal cultures, or it might be a symptom of psychosis – it takes careful discussion with the patient and their family to determine the way forward.
‘Similarly, signs of self-harm could again be a symptom of mental illness, or part of a cultural practice relating to grieving.’
Looking beyond our shores, the issue features remarkable member stories from Andrew Harding, who worked through a six-week wait for medicines supply after a pharmacy store burnt down in the Marshall Islands, and Loren Shirley, who procured TB medications in Liberia with Medicins Sans Frontieres at the tail end of the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak.
Pharmacy GRIT is available free to all SHPA members.

Download the media release.

Image: Complementing the theme of 'truly patient-centred', Spring Pharmacy GRIT features a specially commissioned artwork by rising Indigenous artist Lorraine Kabbindi White.

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