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Community pharmacists can run asthma clinics


Orfhlaith McAreavy
Orfhlaith McAreavey

JOBS for pharmacists within the pharmaceutical industry are extremely competitive. Previously reserved for medical practitioners – pharmacists are frequently gaining these positions within the medical teams. The industry is fast recognising that we have the technical knowledge to converse with consultants and GPs but also the passion and drive for patient-centred care with the added clinical support, which in time of limited resources and burden on GPs, is so very attractive.

After a lengthy and at times gruelling interview process, I was privileged to be awarded a place on the clinic respiratory team within a pharmaceutical company – to lead a respiratory project in Northern Ireland for 12 months.

After working in community pharmacy for several years and co-ordinating several projects within the community I was daunted at the prospect of having just the one job.

The company that I worked for invest heavily in their staff training – having a minimum of 90% score in their internal examinations. It felt like my pre-reg exam all over again. I loved this part of the induction period, as I knew that when I was out in the field, both GPs, nursing staff and any other members of the clinical team would have complete confidence in my abilities to look after their patients. My role was to provide asthma clinics in GP practice and then subsequently feed back to GPs and other clinical staff.

The industry is heavily regulated, myths and legends of slipping GPs luxury holidays and other amazing perks is a long gone era. For instance, while it was in the scope of my position to provide prescribing advice to GPs – I was unable to mention the brand of our products – only advise “step up”, “step down” for example, according to Brith Thoracic Society guidelines.

Respiratory is an area that I am absolutely passionate about – the impact we can have on patients with respiratory complications is immediate in terms of demonstrating excellent technique and advising on correct compliance. I am confident in the fact that we can mirror this in the community pharmacy setting – currently pharmacists in NI are providing respiratory medication reviews and are funded to do so.

Working within the respiratory field is particularly weird and wonderful in equal measures. Those anecdotal tales we hear about how patients are using their inhalers are true!

The successful project has come to an end and I find myself back in community pharmacy – a vocation – my vocation, and I am grateful for the challenges and rewards of my career thus far.

Orfhlaith McAreavey is a locum community pharmacist based in Northern Ireland

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