Pharmacists are on the front line of primary health care and through a trial in Melbourne’s north-west, it is hoped they will prove to be powerful advocates for breast screening. The campaign is part of a larger project which aims to increase screening rates among Arabic and Italian women, a joint initiative of Deakin University and BreastScreen Victoria.
One of the first pharmacies to undergo a special training program deployed by BreastScreen Victoria is the Priceline Pharmacy at the Highpoint Shopping Centre with staff now equipped to understand breast cancer risk and symptoms, along with raising conversations about the importance of regular breast screening with customers. Pharmacy Manager, Rikinder Shergill said that the role of the modern pharmacist has evolved.
“Instead of just dispensing and processing prescriptions, we do a lot more primary care which is when people come in and say ‘I have a rash and can you please take a look and give me some advice’,” she explained.
“There is also pre-screening - that’s recognising symptoms or family history and letting people know that they should consider a certain type of treatment, or speak to their GP about it. There’s a lot more patient interaction.”
“There’s more awareness that pharmacists have a lot of knowledge and not just about medications,” continued Ms Shergill. “We also try to be more available when it comes to healthcare. Sometimes you just want to have a general conversation rather than having a formal appointment. GP clinics are very structured and they only have a certain amount of time that’s allocated per patient. A community pharmacy is somewhere you can walk in and that makes the customer a little bit more comfortable.”
Between July and September, select pharmacies in Moonee Ponds, Ascot Vale and Maribyrnong will be promoting breast screening to their customers.
“It’s great for us as there is a clinic not far away so it will be convenient for many of our customers as well,” said Ms Shergill.
Participating pharmacies include:
- Puckle Street Discount Pharmacy, 10 Puckle St, Moonee Ponds
- Ascot Vale Pharmacy, 67-69 Union Rd, Ascot Vale
- Priceline Pharmacy, Highpoint Shopping Centre, Maribyrnong
- Amcal Moonee Ponds, Moonee Ponds Central, 14-16 Hall St, Moonee Ponds
Appointments at BreastScreen Victoria clinics take just 10 minutes, are with a woman and are free. Bookings can be made online at breastscreen.org.au or by calling 13 20 50.