Background: Growing demands on healthcare globally, combined with workforce shortages, have led to greater skill mix in healthcare settings. Pharmacists are increasingly moving into complex areas of practice, a move supported by policy and education/training changes.
Aim: To understand the nature of extended roles for pharmacists practising at an advanced level in primary care and community pharmacy settings, to explore how clinical and physical examination was incorporated into practice and to understand the impact of providing such examination on practice and on patient relationships.
Method: Telephone interviews (N=15) were conducted with a purposive sample of pharmacists using clinical and physical examination in their practice in Great Britain. The sample included primary care pharmacists (N=5), community pharmacists (N=4), pharmacists working across settings (N=5) and one working in another primary care setting. Participants were recruited through professional networks, social media and snowballing.
Results: Primary care pharmacists and community pharmacists were utilising clinical and physical examination skills in their practice. Some community pharmacists were operating locally-commissioned services for low acuity conditions. Incorporating such examinations into practice enabled pharmacists to look at the patient holistically and enhanced pharmacist/patient relationships. Barriers to practise included lack of timely sharing of patient data and perceived reluctance on the part of some pharmacists for advanced practice.
Conclusion: With growing opportunities to provide patient-focussed care, it remains to be seen whether pharmacists, both in Great Britain and elsewhere, are able to overcome some of the organisational, structural and cultural barriers to advanced practice that currently exist in community pharmacy.