Communication Skills of Practicing Pharmacists and Pharmacy Students

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

A graduate's ability to communicate effectively can greatly affect their career development in the future workplace (Ena et al., 2010). Communication in the area of health is consistently a central concern for policy makers, economists, and academics (Schulz, 2008). Similarly, communication skills remain an important factor in the field of pharmacy. Undoubtedly, Tindall et al. (1994) have explained this succinctly by highlighting the needs for communication skills in pharmacy such as establishing ongoing relationship between the pharmacists and patients, providing ways to ensure patient's information and ultimately, to improve the healthcare of the patient. These three reasons were to state the importance of communication skills in pharmacy by indicating that without communication skills, pharmacists are unable to achieve the goals of a pharmacist as a health provider to the patients or customers due to inability of pharmacists to understand patients and their health problems, gain the patient's trust as well and engage patients to open up in their conversations.

To further illustrate the idea of Tindall et al (1994), good communication skills are stressed upon pharmacists as it determines the grounds for trust in the pharmacist-patient relationship (McDonough & Bennett, 2006). As quoted by McDonough and Bennett (2006, p.2), "... This relationship is built on the foundation of trust and open exchange of information; it is a collaborative relationship. Pharmacy students should understand the importance of this relationship-establishes a covenant between pharmacist and patient ..."

Besides that, Hargie et al. (2000, p.63) have stated that the quality of communication between pharmacists and patient is essential in creating effective health care. In their research paper entitled Pharmacists' Evaluation of Key Communication Skills in Practice; they have quoted Cipolle by saying "Care means communication and Quality care means quality communication".

A study also showed that communication skills also showed to be one of the most important criterions in selecting fresh intake for pharmacy students in many countries especially in the United States (Jones et. al., 2000a, p68). They also pointed out that communication skills are needed in becoming a successful pharmacist. As an example, in United States of America, in the latest version of PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test), communication skills are assessed by reading comprehension as well as verbal abilities (Jones et al. 2000b, p.68).

Hence, this research proposes that communication skills are indeed one of the most important and compulsory components in ensuring a good career in pharmacy. However, communication skills are not exclusively set for patients-pharmacists relationship only. Even, nurse reports of physicians who listened effectively and used clear, humorous, immediate, and empathic messages were strongly related to nurses' satisfaction in several contexts. Physicians' use of empathic messages emerged as a significant predictor of nurses' satisfaction with communication, relationships, and collaborative medical practices (Melissa et al., 2009). Physician humour and clarity were significant predictors of nurses' job satisfaction. As a pharmacist, they are also involved in communicating with their colleagues or other doctors, physicians, nurses, and also other staff. This research is also set out to look at the communication skills needed in order for pharmacists to communicate with their co-workers, boss, and various members of the health and non-health groups. Therefore, the objectives of the study were to examine the perceptions of students and pharmacists about communication skills and determine whether there are significant differences between the rating of pharmacists and pharmacy students.

2. METHODOLOGY

This research involves the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods. …