Reflections from the PSNZ President

I was surprised and saddened to see recently that NZ Medical Association Board has recommended the initiation of liquidation, and it caused me to pause and reflect on what a Professional Organisation means in an environment where most health professionals cannot see past the patient in front of them to look towards a health profession’s future.

In my current role as President, I have seen first-hand the late nights, early mornings and all the in between that goes in behind a Professional Membership Organisation.  I watched through COVID as the PSNZ Practice team contributed, collated, and critiqued communications from various agencies to provide commentary that could be rapidly, safely and legally implemented into practice.

What has been most interesting to me is the interplay between health agencies seeking sector input from member organisations without appearing to recognise that these member organisations are not a limitless resource.  It is also a catch 22 situation, the organisations need to be present in these hui to ensure decisions made meet the needs of their members, but it is unseen work, and some of the influence may not become apparent for some time.

Given the NZMA situation and moving into a health reform where professional bodies will be needed more than ever, it may be timely under a health reform to look towards “Peak Body” status as occurs in other countries.  This is where the Government or those charged with delivering particular national work streams contribute financially to membership organisations to offset the staffing and other costs associated with having member organisations contribute their time and expertise to work plans and other consultations.  Pharmacy as a whole often provides their knowledge, expertise and time to others “for free” and we have not been strong in valuing our time.

PSNZ is fortunate in many ways as while our members have always been our number 1 priority, it is not the only income stream.  This does not mean that resources are limitless, and as all of us adapt to a much more cost constrained outlook, we need to be mindful of where we spend time, energy and money.

It was mentioned to me recently that joining Professional Member Organisations is an investment in the future, as tangible benefits are not realised rapidly.  During the COVID response many of the meetings were centred around “what needs” to happen, but the really important ones includes “what could” happen.

There are so many opportunities for the pharmacy sector in the new health system, but these opportunities need to align with the aspirations of the profession.  As part of our continued promise to our members, the Early Career Pharmacists portal is developing and we expect some new initiatives that have been slowed by COVID will be advertised later this year. Our commitment to Pharmacy Technicians continues, and work on streamlining the PACT process has been positive, we are increasing our commitment and have recently called for a co-opted Technician onto the PSNZ National Executive.  PSNZ continues to look to the future of the profession where all of the workforce is utilised, the professions aspirations are achieved and that a strong, sustainable profession can provide health services to their communities.

If you want to go fast – go alone, if you want to go far – go together.

Prof Rhiannon Braund