GSK Consumer Healthcare unveils pharmacist support program

The three-year program is set to offer mental health support and training resources.

GSK Consumer Healthcare unveils pharmacist support program

Physicians, nurses, paramedics and other frontline workers may have felt the greatest strain during the early months of the pandemic. Pharmacists soon joined that list, especially when their responsibilities surged amid increased testing and, ultimately, the vaccine rollout.

Addressing that strain and working to help pharmacies serve as community health centers are among the goals of a new GSK Consumer Healthcare initiative. Set to run for three years, the company's pharmacist support program will focus on improving the mental health of beleaguered pharmacists.

According to GSK Consumer Healthcare VP and global head of expert and influencer marketing Tess Player, pharmacists have, for the last 20 months, been serving as stand-ins for otherwise closed or overwhelmed healthcare providers.

"Pharmacists were among the only healthcare professionals who were fully accessible throughout the pandemic," she said. "That reawakened a realization that community pharmacists play a central role in everyday health and self-care for the communities they serve."

At the same time, the increased hours and responsibilities led to widespread burnout. That’s why GSK Consumer Healthcare settled on a multi-year duration for the support program.

To identify pharmacists’ specific needs, the company hosted a roundtable in partnership with the International Pharmaceutical Federation. Findings from that discussion were recently published in a candid report, Standing with Pharmacists in the Age of Self-Care. It highlighted five areas of focus, including workload and remuneration.

GSK Consumer Healthcare is working alongside a team of pharmacists that specializes in the development of personal and professional resilience. It is also creating a host of professional development resources and training programs for communication skills.

The report also stressed the need to view pharmacists more broadly. Their roles can and should be expanded to include community health and preventive care for individuals.

Then there’s health literacy, which came into play during the “infodemic” that accompanied the rise of COVID-19. Player believes pharmacists can effectively serve as translators for individuals with low health literacy..

“We want to equip pharmacists with the tools they need to make assessments about the literacy of the individual in front of them,” Player said. “That includes making sure there’s no patient left behind, that it is a very inclusive approach to ensuring health literacy for all.”

The overarching goal, Player said, is better health outcomes.

“One of the ways in which we see that happen is through improved health literacy, and therefore a greater responsibility on the individual for self-care,” she continued. “We need to make sure pharmacists are set up for success and to enable their communities to be able to take better care of themselves.”

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