20th May 2019
Mpharm, RPS mentor
Practice Pharmacist at a busy outer London general practice surgery. The surgery serves 11,000 patients in an affluent area of the city. I spend my day supporting the practice clinical and reception staff with pharmaceutical queries, local protocols, QoF, medication reviews and hospital discharges. I am also becoming involved in staff training.
In my pre-registration year I was BPSA International student exchange scheme officer and then YPG secretary. These roles gave me the chance to work in the USA and learn about pharmacy in other countries as well as understanding our changing role in the UK.
My career began as a relief pharmacist. But I found relief work frustrating, so moved into store management. I started in a semi-rural pharmacy which gave me an insight into management, care home services and veterinary pharmacy. I joined Selfridges Retail Ltd as a pharmacist in 2001, eventually working my way up to the role of buyer and Superintendent Pharmacist. This role gave me a wide knowledge in herbal and homeopathic pharmacy in an internationally renowned pharmacy setting.
The last 15 years I worked for Lloyds Pharmacy managing branches in North London and Hertfordshire. I have extended my interest in training and the pharmacist’s role within the NHS. Experience included PCT / CCG liaison pharmacist, pre-registration tutor and RPS mentor; community dosage systems and services to residential and care homes; senior management, support and mentoring of staff; and Community Pharmacy services. I am qualified to run a community anticoagulation service.
I have been an expert member (pharmacist) for the National Research Ethics Service for the last seven years.
On being made redundant last year I decided to apply for the new role of General practice pharmacist and become an Independent Prescriber (IP). I was looking for a part time role outside the retail sector where I could expand my clinical knowledge and have a structured patient centred role using the clinical knowledge I had gained over the last 28 years.
I had some knowledge of what might be involved as I am married to a local GP and have helped out at his practice in various capacities over the years. I knew the issues of shared care, QOF payments and workload. I understood where a pharmacist’s knowledge and expertise could help whether an IP or not.
Having experienced being a practice manager for six months at my husband’s surgery a few years ago, I hoped to join them to train for my IP qualification. Instead an opportunity arose in a local GP surgery as a practice pharmacist without an IP qualification. I joined the Soar Beyond GP practice pharmacy team last October and am gaining experience before embarking on the IP pathway. This will allow me to specialise in preparation for the IP course.
Working out what skills and clinical knowledge I am lacking and explaining to my colleagues where I can and can’t help within the practice.
Becoming more assertive in my ability to refer requests back, but dealing with the areas I am competent in so as to reduce the workload. Discuss clinical decisions with GPs and nurses to learn for the future. Attending clinical courses to increase my competence in areas I need training.
The new cohort of practice pharmacists are not automatically enrolled on the CPPE pathway. I have found it difficult to link up with other practice pharmacists and know where help, training and support is available.
Get to know your CCG pharmacy team and they will help you link up with other pharmacists in the area. Use conferences and training days to increase your links with other practice pharmacists. I have been lucky enough to join the Soar Beyond team of pharmacists with whom I can ask for advice and support which is a privilege.
I have realised that my basic clinical knowledge is outdated in many fields and have decided to revalidate my knowledge in asthma and bone health as these areas are most important to the practice. I am also learning to interpret blood results so as to carry out better level 3 medication reviews.
I love the ease of access to clinical information and quick training modules on the website.
I found the circle of competence tool very useful to decide my abilities and areas of confidence and competence. It has already been interesting to see how I have developed and evolved in my role in the first few months of the job.
How varied and rewarding being a team member in General Practice can be. There are so many ways you can make a difference to patients and team members in a short space of time, whilst expanding your own knowledge and confidence.