LET’S start with ‘Vision!’
When I say this, I mean where are we going as a profession? What do we want?
Money? Status? Recognition? Part of a team? Autonomy? Respect? Mentorship?
Well, over the last few weeks I have been having some interesting discussions with pharmacists. Some at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) conference, and some on newly created internet networking sites. I think we are hungry for all of the above.
For many years we have been the silent profession: working away, keeping patients safe, but not shouting about it, maybe not challenging poor practice, and maybe not pushing the boundaries enough.
Now things are changing: we don’t have enough general practitioners and nurses, so governments, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and health boards are looking at new ways of working. Pharmacy has some great opportunities to get into the limelight, to speak and make a difference.
So what does this mean? It means we help each other develop as we have never done before. Building a newly integrated career pathway with a route from pre-reg to consultant pharmacist in all areas of practice.
Community, general practice and hospital pharmacy coming together to manage the patient journey around medicines. We are the link that can bind it all together for our patients.
What about Independent Prescribing? Well, I absolutely agree that the fundamentals are set at the undergraduate level and we progress through a gradual mentoring and support model such as the RPS Faculty foundation to advanced practice.
This is needed to ensure we practise safely in new and developing roles. We are not taught like doctors, we don’t deal with death and managing complexity and take responsibility for patient outcomes routinely. We must learn to do this in a protected and supervised way. Prescribing a drug is easy, but prescribing a drug to achieve an outcome in multimorbidity is certainly not and requires in-depth knowledge of each of the diseases, the pathological changes, psychological, social and other patient factors.
So let’s be safe: take small steps, use our mentors (GPs, consultants and senior IPs) to get us there.
Already, we have networking via the Primary Care Pharmacy Association (PCPA) on Telegram. This is growing and is a super way to work together with experience from community, practice pharmacists, IPs, advanced practitioners and a few consultants.
The RPS local forums should also be developing links across the profession in their new structure.
Supporting each other will help us develop pharmacy for the future. It is only then that we will have a profession to be proud of.
Fiona Jones is a Health Board Clinical Lead for GP practices, retired director of Moelwyn Pharmacy Ltd, and a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Welsh Pharmacy Board.