Associate Professor Lita Chew, President, Singapore Pharmacy Council,
Members of the Council,
Newly Registered Pharmacists,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am happy to join you this evening at the 2021 Pharmacist’s Pledge Affirmation Ceremony. My heartiest congratulations to all the newly registered pharmacists, for entering a profession that is making a major contribution to the well-being of our people. I wish you a good transition to your new career as a pharmacist, and a rewarding and fulfilling career ahead.
2. The Pharmacist’s Pledge, like many other professional promises, such as the Hippocratic Oath, the SAF Pledge, or the Oath I took when being appointed a Minister, is a solemn commitment to our professional responsibilities. In your case, it is a promise to patients, and to the development of the pharmacy profession.
3. These are in line with how Singapore is governed, where we discharge our duties to the best of our abilities, without fear or favour, and the extent to which we can do that, defines merit.
Shifting Battlefronts of COVID-19
4. To say you join the healthcare profession at exciting times is a gross understatement, as the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. As a vital member of the healthcare team, you ensure sufficient supply and safe delivery of medications, good patient management, and close collaboration with other healthcare professionals.
5. During this pandemic, the pharmacy workforce has stepped forward to support the dormitories, community care facilities and ensured the continuation of pharmacy services in the community throughout the pandemic. And on Wednesday this week, we rolled out sales of the Antigen Rapid Tests to the public, with our retail pharmacists counselling and educating in the forefront. You play an important role in educating the public about the myths surrounding COVID-19, and correcting falsehoods. You continue to support the education and training of future batches of the pharmacy workforce in spite of the difficulties faced.
6. The COVID-19 battlefront is shifting, from hospital care to vaccinations. In time, it will shift further, from vaccinations to treatment. This is when we take another major step forward to overcome the disease. Because as scientists discover better and more effective treatment against the disease, there is much less to fear about the virus. The closer we approach the end state of COVID-19, the more important your role will be.
7. I would like to thank all pharmacists for your work in caring tirelessly for your patients and helping to contain the spread of COVID-19. Together, we can overcome the challenges ahead and emerge from this situation stronger.
Need for Continuous Professional Development
8. One of the key tenets of Singapore’s governance philosophy is to ensure Singapore remains stable, harmonious and welcoming to the outside world. At the same time, we equip our people with the right skills and knowledge, so that we can seize opportunities of an open and globally connected Singapore. That way, we create jobs, and opportunities for professional development and advancement.
9. We do that across all occupations, from doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, engineers, to technicians, craftsmen and artists. We provide not just jobs but also upgrading opportunities. Not just safety nets but trampolines. Not just fishes but fishing rods. Not just a minimum standard but a path for progression.
10. Today, let me say something about the plans for the pharmacist profession. Major changes are happening.
11. First, the healthcare landscape has been evolving rapidly. Like all sectors, technology is changing the job nature of a pharmacist. Pharmacies are using technologies to provide different models of care. The mundane and repetitive will be replaced by technology. That which requires judgement and empathy, will still need humans.
12. Second, we are transforming the healthcare delivery model. This is captured in the vision of the three beyonds. In realizing this vision, we need to shift away from an acute hospital-centric healthcare delivery, to one that is patient centric, siting the right care at the right setting.
13. There are many things we need to do to realize this vision, but one key thrust is to empower for healthcare professionals, to shoulder broader responsibilities and fulfill their potential. This is also aligned to the National Pharmacy Strategy.
14. In this regard, the Chief Pharmacist’s Office has been actively reviewing the current, expanded and emerging roles of advanced pharmacy generalists and the entire pharmacy workforce. We need to optimize the manpower numbers for generalists and specialists, and tailor our training efforts accordingly for example.
15. There are a few major initiatives underway. First, is to continue to strengthen the pipeline of new entrants into the profession. The National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Pharmacy implemented the Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) programme in August 2020. The course has a highly integrated curriculum, focused on team-based and experiential learning, and will expose students to innovations happening in the healthcare sector.
16. To strengthen mentorship of our fresh graduates, SPC will be enhancing the pipeline of preceptors. I am happy to announce that the SPC will be recognising five deserving preceptors tonight with the SPC Excellent Preceptor Award 2020.
17. Second, continue to upgrade the existing workforce. In May 2020, the Development Framework for Pharmacists (DFP) was published to guide pharmacists towards enhanced capabilities and adaptability regardless of the practice setting.
18. To facilitate the transition from school to the pharmacy workplace, the Entry-to-Practice competency standards would be integrated into the DFP. The DFP will chart our career development roadmaps, from foundation to advanced practice, across eight key roles, including care provider, collaborator, communicator, health advocate, leader, manager, educator and researcher-innovator. It will be a good guide for career conversations and identifying developmental needs.
19. In implementing the DFP, there will be more training and upgrading opportunities, overseen by Tan Tock Seng Hospital. To date, over 400 pharmacists have received training on portfolio building.
20. Third, we can train and upgrade pharmacists to do more. ,In October 2012, we established a specialists accreditation framework under the Pharmacy Specialists Accreditation Board (PSAB) and since then, our national pharmacy residency training system has matured.
21. Under the framework, all pharmacists can apply to PSAB for seven specialist accreditation , with two new R2 programmes i.e. Critical Care and Paediatric Pharmacy being officially launched in July 2021. They will have to complete their postgraduate studies, followed by (the broad-based R1 and specialty-specific R2) residency training, and demonstrate their competency by submitting the required practice portfolio.
22. As of 17 June 2021, we have 51 accredited pharmacy specialists. These specialists are leading and developing the specialised services to manage patients with more complex diseases such as cancers, infectious and cardiovascular diseases, as well as those requiring critical care and pharmacotherapy in psychiatric, geriatric and paediatric illnesses. The numbers now are not many, but we intend to build up the pipeline significantly in the coming years, to support the healthcare delivery model of the future.
23. We will provide more opportunities for postgraduate education and residency training and allow greater flexibility in our training and accreditation framework beyond the current structure.
24. To the newly registered pharmacists, the solemn promise you make tonight signifies a lifelong commitment to your patients. I look forward to your contributions to help bring the profession to an even higher level. I hope your road ahead will be an exciting and fulfilling one. We welcome you to our healthcare family and wish all of you a successful and fulfilling career.
25. Thank you.
 The first five specialties refer to:
1) Cardiology Pharmacy; 2) Geriatric Pharmacy; 3) Infectious Diseases Pharmacy; 4) Psychiatric Pharmacy; and 5) Oncology Pharmacy