Fitness to Practice Study


The aim of this study is to explore the occurrence of impairment in the profession and how best to address the problem in light of the existing programs available to other healthcare providers in Australia.


Dr Betty Chaar

Research Location

Sydney Pharmacy School

Program Type



Impairment in the form of substance abuse, trauma or mental illness, is a recognized problem amongst health care professionals in Australia. Impairment of healthcare professionals, affects clinical judgment and behaviour, hence encroaches on patient safety and the quality of services provided to the community Although an avoidable risk, unlike other healthcare professions, impairment has not yet been comprehensively addressed in the profession of pharmacy in Australia.It is crucial to the profession of pharmacy, entrusted with all the restricted drugs and medications in society, to maintain the trust and integrity that the profession has enjoyed in Australia for many years. Pharmacists who suffer some form of impairment need expert support services made available to them to enable them to continue to serve society aptly and safely. The ever-increasing number of students and recently graduated young pharmacists in Australia implies that more support for impaired or mentally ill pharmacists may be needed. Developed countries around the world, e.g. UK, Canada, Norway and USA have established well-promoted, easily accessible programs providing professional support and therapies to such pharmacists, who are encouraged to register anonymously with the programs. These programs are invariably designed by experts in the field and delivered or accessible via the internet, are user friendly and offer complete confidentiality. The success of these support programs for health care professionals are well documented and presented in a plethora of research papers and conferences, such as those presented at the International Doctors’ Health Conference held in Sydney (2007).[1]
[1] Please refer to: for papers presented at the conference, and; for the AMA’s program

Additional Information

Pharmacists in Australia do not as yet have such programs available to them. In most states there is a panel or body of personnel at the relevant Pharmacy Board handling impairment discretely and heavily reliant on self-reporting to authorities or complaints from the public notifying authorities. It would be in the interests of the public and the profession in Australia, now approaching amalgamation of Pharmacy Acts and standardisation of Pharmacy Board activities, to have at hand evidence based recommendations for a program suitable for implementation across the country.

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pharmacist, impairment, Substance abuse, Trauma, mental illness

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1005

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