RFMO-02 - Rapid fire session from selected oral abstracts


Pharmacy Workforce Development: Leading Change In Singapore

  • By: HO, Camilla (Ministry Of Health)
  • Co-author(s): Ms Carolyn Ho (Ministry Of Health, Singapore, Singapore)
    Ms Sei Keng Koh (Ministry Of Health, Singapore, Singapore)
    Prof Lita Chew (Ministry Of Health, Singapore, Singapore)
    Dr Camilla Wong (Ministry Of Health, Singapore, Singapore)
  • Abstract:

    As of December 2022, there are 3900 pharmacists registered with the Singapore Pharmacy Council (SPC). The pharmacy workforce needs to move in tandem with the shifts in global practice landscape, care models and patients’ needs in the local community. In Singapore, pharmacy workforce development is led by the Chief Pharmacist's Office at the Ministry of Health. The initiatives hinge on the National Pharmacy Strategy and align with the Development Goals of the International Pharmaceutical Federation. These initiatives envision a progressive and confident pharmacy workforce that is effective and adaptive in the evolving healthcare environment.

    We sought to review pharmacy workforce development initiatives using Kotter’s change management model.

    A coalition was formed with local and international experts, to envision the performance criteria and identified the required competencies from foundation to advanced levels. Alignment to descriptors at the various performance levels was validated. To ensure content validity, the SPC or education leads from healthcare institutions and schools were engaged. Training programmes and toolkits were developed to enable adoption for quick wins. National surveys and stakeholder engagements were conducted to gather feedback at institutional and individual levels to strengthen and anchor change.

    The Development Framework for Pharmacists (DFP) establishes a competency continuum across seven domains, four performance levels and towards eight key roles. The DFP was endorsed by SPC and published by the Ministry of Health in May 2020. Portfolio workshops were extended to reach over 500 senior pharmacists and a Portfolio Building Toolkit was produced. For pharmacy technicians, 373 polytechnic students have completed the Entry-to-Practice competency assessment framework introduced in 2022. Over 100 pharmacy technicians have graduated from the Advanced Diploma in Pharmaceutical Science Programme since 2017. The reviews with local and visiting experts reported key strengths, challenges faced and shed insights to improve the practice and delivery of pharmacy training and workforce development. Key stakeholders were engaged regularly for co-creation of solutions to overcome challenges faced which facilitated the adoption of subsequent strategic and action plans to strengthen the initiatives. Results and feedback gathered from the national surveys provided direction for more changes. In 2022, The PHARMFORCE initiative was set up to safeguard wellness and maintain resilience for pharmacy workforce in the patient care settings. Five workstreams were set up to focus on key areas including (i) leadership development; (ii) roles and scope of practice expansion; (iii) manpower development and recognition; (iv) workload and the work environment optimisation; (v) better communication and engagement with patients, the public and other healthcare professionals for better appreciation and recognition on the role and value of the pharmacy workforce and services.

    A continuum of competency was developed to enable a systematic and harmonized progression from foundation to advanced level practice across different settings. The developmental frameworks guide self-directed learning and career development. The PHARMFORCE initiative provides avenues for pharmacy leaders to influence change and position the pharmacy workforce as caring partners who are accessible, ready and motivated to forge ahead with resilience, anchored on a strong core of professional excellence.