My name is Yasmin, I completed my MPharm degree at a university in London and throughout my 4 years, I wasn’t entirely sure which sector of Pharmacy I was interested in working in… to be honest, I wasn’t even aware that general practice (GP) was an option for Pharmacists.
Undergraduate placements for me were usually based at either at a large teaching hospital (attempting taking a drug history from an inpatient), or at a community pharmacy (dispensing or familiarising myself with the company SOPs).
Fast-forward to my training/pre-registration (pre-reg) year: a multi-sector placement equally split in Community, Hospital and GP pharmacy. This sort of pre-reg is rare, so I did not know what to anticipate going into the GP setting.
I spent my first few weeks shadowing all the types of staff in the GP practice, from receptionists, to nurses, to the GPs and the practice Pharmacist. What I saw was that each role was entirely different, yet so coherent. As cliché as it may sound, every member of staff relied on one another to run the services of a GP surgery. Their workloads depended on everyone doing their roles that ultimately relieved a pressure in a busy, time-constrained clinical environment.
Knowing how to carry out an effective consultation and document the consultation effectively as a practice pharmacist
As an individual, I thoroughly enjoy the patient-facing aspect of pharmacy (and appreciate community pharmacy), so I began to look for ways to work on consultation skills and what documentation entails in General Practice. This ranged from completing assessments to getting an insight from registered pharmacists, speaking to my colleagues in the GP surgery as well as fellow pre-reg pharmacists based in GP.
Seeing patients in clinic with supervision and applying my learnings from observing other HCPs in general practice
After sitting in on the GP/nurse/HCA/pharmacist consultations, I led some whilst the healthcare professional running the clinic or consultation sat in with me, later feeding back to me points that I can improve on or what went well during the consultation. I found that when I introduced myself as the trainee pharmacist, patients remained engaged with me and throughout the consultation. Being undermined in the GP setting was something that I was wary of, but thankfully have not experienced. Additionally, I would be in contact with local community pharmacies or healthcare professionals working in secondary care with queries related to patients’ medications.
I began to see that everyone has their own method of documenting or speaking to patients, and that I need to identify, pick out and hopefully implement ‘good practice’ from the different GP staff
To pass my pre-reg successfully!
My role started off as helping with the admin-side of GP practice. I looked at patient groups on specific medications and if their condition was being monitored as necessary, dealing with medication requests from patients and community pharmacies and either submitting the request to my practice pharmacist supervisor to further screen, or if I had a query, then to further look into. I also practiced ‘medicine reconciliation’, essentially fake-screening patient’s discharge letters from hospitals and identifying if medications were stopped, started, changed or continued following the patient’s hospitalisation and then discussing my findings with the practice pharmacist who would then do the real deal. I was able to support the pharmacist with their workload in the practice and add value by reducing their time taken to undertake their activities.
With my pre-reg spectacles on, I was most focused on how the practice pharmacist’s role fit in to this multi-disciplinary team. Was the work admin-based? Or was it patient-facing? Would the GP pharmacist mainly be dealing with the local community pharmacies? Most importantly, how would I, a trainee pharmacist, fit into all of this?!
The answers to my questions going into general practice can be answered now that I have reflected on the first half of my pre-reg:
Insightful blogs for pharmacy professionals to read, but it is not limited to pharmacists. Pre-registration pharmacists should be encouraged to read these blogs to get an idea of what practicing in a GP surgery may look like, and hopefully it sparks some curiosity in them for their own careers!
I was introduced to the GP Pharmacist role in the NHS Long Term Plan and began to search the internet for information about the role, responsibilities, specific skills needed, salary (you name it, chances are that I searched for it) but could not find definitive answers. The role varied from surgery to surgery, area, NHS band, knowledge or extra diplomas required. I wish that I had more guidance and that there was more information about the role out there!