7th March 2018
My career timeline before I became a practice pharmacist is predominantly made up of hospital experience (Senior MI Pharmacist, at Northwick Park Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital), with a splash of community (Sainsburys Pharmacy manager) and prison sector exposure (HMP The Mount).
Having worked for 3 years across 13 GP practices, my role developed and consisted of: supporting other clinical pharmacists, running frailty and long-term condition clinics as well as polypharmacy medication review clinics, repeat prescriptions, clinical post, LES/DES medicines management targets and audits, streamlining processes and change management, telephone triage, medicines enquiries within the practice for other HCPs, interpreting pathology
I worked as a Band 8a Senior GP Pharmacist initially in 1 surgery alongside an entry-level pharmacist with a population of 9,000 patients.
I moved then to work across 10 practices for Islington GP Federation and CCG over a 1 year to pilot the GP practice pharmacist role to give them a taster of the role. After this, I worked full time across GP surgeries in Islington and Tower Hamlets whilst being involved in training -see below!
Thrown into the deep end with taking on roles with no experience or training or knowledge e.g. Interpreting blood results
I faced the challenge head on! Did lots of CPD and self-directed learning into pathology from suggested books and online resources recommended by the GPs, upskilled myself and used evidence-based references to support my learning. I also stood firm and challenged when asked to do something I felt wasn’t within my competency (a key theme of the i2i programmes I now lead). Being honest and being conscious of my competencies with the GP was really important, as was owning the need to set protected time with the GP to support my learning and training.
Finding time and gaining buy-in from my organisation to attend training courses to upskill myself, and gaining their support for in-house training and support
I proved my worth and value at the practice by showing my outcomes to date, showing how much GP time I had saved, and how many extra appointments I had created. I had also streamlined processes within the surgery which freed up some of my time to enable training to occur. This increased their confidence in my abilities and I was able to negotiate for them to support me to further reduce their workload by training me up in these areas and to attend training courses to upskill myself e.g. interpreting blood results. It helped to have a practice culture of an “open door” policy to enable me to gain GP support in my clinics when needed, and the GP agreed to spend 30 minutes with me each week to support and train me for my learning needs.
I guess the key messages, therefore, are to ensure you are always thinking about ‘how can I demonstrate the impact of this role/ initiative’ and make sure you have finely-tuned negotiation skills to ensure safe practice!
To educate and train other practice pharmacists and aspiring practice pharmacists to upskill themselves to perform at the top of their skillset within the general practice setting, in a safe and effective manner. This will ultimately enable us to achieve fantastic patient outcomes and improve the quality of care that we give to our patients.
I focussed on showing my impact on the outcomes achieved to the GPs by:
I am thrilled to be in this role working in such an exciting space innovating & supporting GP Pharmacists across the country. Skills-wise I am working on further developing my training, development, coaching and leadership skills with the support from the Soar Beyond team. I am also working on helping GP Pharmacists to do the same!
To be honest, I think as pharmacists, we fixate on the technical and clinical skills (which are of course critical) but we really don’t invest enough time developing our so-called ‘soft skills’. What I mean by this is that the main challenges in a pressurised, under-resourced general practice environment are much more about the ability/ discipline to get off the ever-rotating hamster wheel, think about what we are trying to achieve, what the practice needs and how we can go about helping them to deliver. We have generally never been trained to think about how to influence a system change (no matter how big or small), how to negotiate with challenging stakeholders, the importance of creating dissatisfaction to drive change as well as initiating, managing and evaluating projects/ initiatives. It’s exactly these sort of skills that the i2i Network is developing and supporting general practice pharmacists with, using simplified & structured methodologies brought in from other areas of industry.
The i2i stands for insight 2 implementation and it really does what it says on the tin. The workshops develop your insight & knowledge but have a clear implementation-focus including change management tools etc. Before joining, I hadn’t really appreciated that as a free member, you get access to the free implementation resources which are invaluable, and really enable you to put your learning into practice straight after you have attended a training event- something I have never seen before from a training provider. I had never attended a workshop before I got the job, but I wished I had as it would have helped me massively! I love that the workshops also have such a big focus on networking and sharing best practice- something we need as we so often work in isolation in general practice!
There is no right or wrong career path in pharmacy, and it is OK to try out different roles to gain experience and develop and acquire new skills. You never know what opportunities may come your way if you work hard, work rigorously, and are passionate about what you do! The fact that I am in such an exciting role for Soar Beyond influencing such a cutting-edge part of the profession is hopefully testament to that!
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