Integrating a Pharmacist into an Already-Established Primary Health Care Team

Lynette Kosar (formerly Kolodziejak) , BSP, MSc , Alfred Rémillard , BSc(Pharm), PharmD, BCPP

Defining the role of pharmacists in a variety of health care settings has been widely discussed over the past several years, and it continues to be an area of significant interest to our profession. In particular, pharmacists have been encouraged to establish and/or enhance clinical pharmacy services in ambulatory, hospital, and community practices.

However, in these collaborative efforts, it is important to have clearly defined roles to reduce ambiguity or overlap of roles with other health care professionals and also to promote a cohesive approach when more than one pharmacist is involved with the team. Several factors must be considered before a pharmacist joins a health care team: Is this an established team? Have the team members interacted with a pharmacist before? What are their expectations of the pharmacist?

We would like to direct readers of the CJHP to our recently published study, in which we investigated how to integrate a pharmacist into an already-established primary health care team.1 The study setting was designated as a primary care site, but a clinical pharmacist had never been a member of the team. The only previous interactions that team members had had with pharmacists were brief communications with community practitioners regarding dispensing functions.

We used an approach known as action research, a qualitative methodology involving a cyclical, dynamic, and collaborative process in which researchers strive to improve their practices. We worked with established primary and ambulatory care pharmacists and members of the primary care team to define and tailor the activities of the proposed clinical pharmacist position. A pharmacist then joined the team and carried out the agreed-upon services. Focus groups were held with the team at the end of the study period to evaluate the pharmacist’s role. The results of this process were ultimately used to create an 8-step guide for this integration process. This guide or template may be of interest to all clinical pharmacists who wish to become part of a primary health care team but who are unclear about what their roles or expectations should be.


1.  Kolodziejak L, Rémillard A, Neubauer S. Integration of a primary health-care pharmacist. J Interprof Care 2010;24(3):274–284.
cross-ref  pubmed  

Department of Pharmacy Practice, Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, Regina, Saskatchewan
Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Affairs, Professor of Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan, Regina, Saskatchewan

Dr Rémillard is also an Associate Member of the Department of Psychiatry in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.

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Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy , VOLUME 64 , NUMBER 3 , May-June 2011