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Are Community Pharmacists a Part of the Healthcare Team? Part 1 of 2

June 13, 2014

All healthcare professions share the same goals for patients: to live longer, healthier lives; health equity for all; and the development of health-promoting environments. The quality of a healthcare team has been shown to strongly correlate with these patient outcomes.1 However, traditional healthcare embodies and sustains silos. Silos foster monologue (informing) versus a dialogue (asking, conversing, and debating) patterns of communication across disciplines.2 Where lack of communication exists, there is often a lack of appreciation of the working practices of other professions.3 Ineffective communication when combined with lack of appreciation for the knowledge, skills, and roles of other professions create poor teamwork which may jeopardize patient safety.

Does community pharmacy participate in healthcare team building? The answer may lie in determining whether pharmacists participate in three keys to effective teams.4 First, do pharmacists have clear objectives with providers towards individual patient care needs? Second, do pharmacists work closely with providers to achieve these objectives? Third, does regular communication occur between pharmacists and providers to review the effectiveness of patient care and to discuss how to improve care when gaps are found? These three keys of development, assessment, and monitoring of patient care are critical to quality delivery of healthcare. 

How can community pharmacists participate in teams? Initially, the pharmacist-provider relationship must be strengthened. The patient must be central to the relationship. Trust and recognition between the professions must be built and sustained. There must be accountability for the patient outcomes by both professions. Finally, both professions must follow through in reaching for agreed upon treatment objectives.  

Pharmacists must increasingly recognize that healthcare is being delivered in teams, by teams, and through teams. Outreach from the pharmacy to the provider and visa-versa will become increasingly important for shared the common goals of all healthcare professions to be reached.

What has your experience of the team approach to patient care been?


Mark A. Munger, PharmD, FCCP, FACC, is a Professor of Pharmacotherapy and Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine, at the University of Utah, where he also serves as the Associate Dean, Academic Affairs for the College of Pharmacy.



1. Xyrichis A, Ream E. Teamwork: a concept analysis. J Adv Nurs. 2008;61(2):232-241.

2. Bleakley A, Allard J, Hobbs A. Towards culture change in the operating theatre: embedding a complex education intervention to improve teamwork climate. Med Teach. 2012;34(9):e635-640.

3. Bleakley A, Allard J, Hobbs A. ‘Achieving ensemble’: communication in orthopaedic surgical teams and the development of situation awareness—an observational study using live videotaped examples. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2012;18(1):33-56.

4. Dawson S. Interprofessional working: communication, collaboration… perspiration!  Int J Palliat Nurs. 2007;13(10):502-505.



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