• Chloe Hava

Pharmacist recognised for contribution to pain management

Updated: Jun 17, 2019

Pharmacists who have an interest in a specific field are in charge of their own development, says pain expert Joyce McSwan, who was recently appointed as a Board Member and Director of The Australian Pain Society (APS) Queensland Branch.

Ms McSwan, Clinical Director, GCPHN Persistent Pain Program and Managing Director, PainWISE, is the first pharmacist to be appointed to the APS board.

The APS is a multidisciplinary organisation which promotes an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to pain through clinical practice, education and research.

Ms McSwan says that since she has been involved with the APS over the last eight years, the organisation has recognised the value of pharmacists and the primary health focus that they can bring to the management of the condition.

‘Our profession is by and large dominant in the community, and accessible. The APS recognise pharmacists as a very integral part of the care pathway.’

But this wasn’t always the case. Ms McSwan says that before her involvement, the APS likely didn’t realise the value that pharmacists could bring beyond dispensing. Once she expressed interest, she says the APS were very inclusive and it made absolute sense to them to incorporate a pharmacist perspective. She emphasises the importance of making organisations like the APS aware of the value pharmacists can bring.

‘When I first started to specialise in pain, there was so little available support. When they saw how interested I was in pain, the APS was one of the organisations that I found did support me and were very willing to share their information with me.’

Ms McSwan recommends pharmacists who are interested in a specialisation, particularly targeted areas of healthcare such as chronic pain or respiratory health, might collaborate with organisations and scientific societies that are aligned with their area of interest.

‘I see this as collaboration in action,’ she says. ‘The only way to raise the standing of pharmacy is to get involved.’

Pharmacists can both share the expertise from their scope of practice and enhance their own role by learning about the approach and knowledge of other disciplines, she says.

Pharmacists and pain management

Ms McSwan recommends that every pharmacist who signed up to the Chronic Pain Medscheck Trial should continue to be involved in pain management.

It is right within pharmacists’ scope of practice to ensure patients know that medicine for pain management is just one aspect, she says.

‘Medicines should be in amongst the toolbox but we need to help patients stay safe and effectively manage their pain.’

Pharmacists should be regularly monitoring and reviewing pain medicines to ensure they are effective while also being aware of the other healthcare specialists for chronic pain that are in their community and continually collaborating with these other allied healthcare professionals.

‘But before referring out, pharmacists should consider what they can do within their own walls.’

‘Patients don’t know the amount of Community Pharmacy Agreement services that they receive funding for. If we’re not letting them know about things like MedsChecks, they are unlikely to come asking for it. This is where pharmacists can really show value by giving patients that extra bit.’

This article was first Published in Australian Pharmacist.

Hear Joyce McSwan speak at the PSA19 conference in Sydney from 26–28 July about collaboration in chronic lower back pain management, one of the top two muscular skeletal health burdens. Register now to get your early bird tickets.


For information about any aspect of the PSA conference, please contact us:  conference@psa.org.au

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is the peak national professional pharmacy organisation, representing Australia's 29,000 pharmacists in all sectors and across all locations, working in or towards a career in pharmacy. Registered training organisation code: 122206 ABN:49 008 532 072 ACN:008 532 072


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