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Career spotlight: Freelance Pharmacy and Healthcare Writer, Ross Ferguson

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What is your role now?

Infrequent locum and freelance writer — I author Clinical Knowledge Summaries for the NICE CKS website, write for a number of pharmacy publications, consumer healthcare companies, marketing companies and anybody else that will have me. I also run Pharmacy in Practice with Johnathan Laird.

What roles did you do to get to where you are now?

  • Strathclyde University
  • Pre-reg pharmacist— Moss Chemists (England)
  • Pharmacy Manager — Moss Chemists
  • Deputy Editor — The Independent Community Pharmacist
  • Editor — The Independent Community Pharmacist (London)
  • Assistant Editor — Pharmacy Magazine
  • Owner — Campsie Pharmacy (Scotland)
  • I sold the pharmacy, moved to Perth, Australia for 2 years where I owned two non-pharmacy businesses. I returned to Scotland and started writing again.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I work from a home office, so it’s very flexible, but I start work early and often work at weekends accidentally.

I also love being part of the profession and having a professional network to tap into, as well as the challenge of taking lots of information, picking out the relevant parts and turning it into something that is (hopefully) easy to read and useful.

My work for the NICE CKS website means I am constantly doing CPD on a whole range of topics, which is fascinating, and work undergoes peer review from GP colleagues so I’m constantly learning something new.

My life is dictated by deadlines, but that’s a challenge I enjoy, as I can be working on many projects at one time. I never miss a deadline.

How much do you earn?

DM me and I might tell you.

What do you not enjoy about your job?

The unpredictability of the work as there is no guaranteed income, and when I have to chase people for payment. As I’m self-employed I only get paid when I complete the work I have been asked to do, but I find that people who give you short deadlines (“I need this tomorrow”) also pay late, or need to be reminded. Once that happens I usually decline any future work from them.

Obviously, the people I currently write for are great!

Are you a member of any pharmacy organisations?
Yes, I’m a Faculty member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society — I was recently appointed to the RPS Membership Committee.

I might consider joining some other pharmacy organisations too within the next year.

Who, if anyone, has influenced your career?
A few people have had an influence on the way I work. The first was a well-known pharmacist from the start of my career who used the phrase: “Get it done, and do it properly”. I try to stick to that.

I also learned a lot from Pharmacy Magazine’s Richard Thomas with whom I worked for many years (and continue to). Much of it is unprintable though…

I continue to learn from others I work with, including the youngster Johnathan Laird.

What would you like to do next?

I’m really happy with what I’m doing now. But I’d also love to work with an educational organisation and have some real input into helping pharmacists develop their knowledge and skills, and collaborate with others to write a successful pharmacy textbook.

I’ve still only halfway through my career, so who knows what’ll happen. I should maybe have a 10-year plan or something…

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