My journey as a GP Practice-based Pharmacist Prescriber and Executive Board Member for the Pharmacist Cooperative
I share this story, not to boast, but to highlight that I had no experience in general practice beforehand and had no background experience in professional social media networking and yet am enjoying both my current roles in Pharmacy not necessarily being taught at Pharmacy degree level yet. And the one myth that I hear time and again is that you need to be a prescriber to get into general practice.
Journey from community to general practice pharmacy
I had a wonderful and widespread experience of working as a community pharmacist initially as a relief pharmacist for a major multiple, then as a store-based pharmacist with eventually becoming a Pharmacist Manager in one of the busiest branches in Central London. I have then locumed at all the major multiples, supermarkets and independent chains as well as working as a community pharmacist in various settings such as in railway stations, airports, private nursing care homes and in famous landmarks such as Canary Wharf.
Although I have enjoyed working in the community and retail settings and enjoyed the buzz of leading my team of pharmacy staff members and still do, I also wanted the opportunity to utilise and expand my therapeutic and pharmacological knowledge and experience in a multidisciplinary clinic setting to make a direct impact to improve patient’s healthcare outcomes and make key lifestyle interventions within my scope of practice.
I have attended and self-funded training courses and work shadowed an experienced practice-based pharmacist working at multiple general practices in my own time and realised that this was an area that I wanted to work in but at the same time also realised that I needed to update my clinical knowledge and being vigilant of the latest clinical guidelines that are constantly changing at such a fast pace.
When NHS England announced they would be funding the first 490 clinical pharmacists in the country to work in general practices in view of national shortages of GPs, I jumped at this unique opportunity and readily prepared myself for the role and successfully acquired this.
As I mentioned earlier, the main obstacle I assumed was that I was not an independent prescriber and that would hold me back but I quickly realised that this was only a tool and that about 90% of my time working as a practice-based pharmacist, I do not use my prescribing qualification but use my pharmacological and clinical skills for a wide-variety of tasks such as medication reviews, audits, actioning MHRA Drug Alerts, monitoring high-risk drug medications, conducting annual diabetes reviews, delivering training sessions to other healthcare professionals and non-clinical staff, administering influenza vaccinations and much much more.
When working in the general practice sector, the job does not finish at the typical 9am-5pm role as you have to be clinically up to date more so for any new drug changes and new emerging drug trials coming through as well as regular changes to local and national guidelines and be required to study these in your own time at home, whether that is after work or during your days off. Attending conferences such as the Pharmacy Show and the Clinical Pharmacy Congress will give good insight and build up your CPD & Revalidation portfolio as well as attending separate GP & nurse led training courses privately. I thoroughly recommend pharmacists interested in keeping their clinical knowledge up to date to sign up for the NICE Daily Medicines Awareness Service.
Working with a leading Pharmacy networking & support group
My work for the Pharmacist Cooperative began when I noticed certain pharmacies were reducing locum rates for pharmacists when the Government were announcing funding cuts for Pharmacy and that locum pharmacists did not have a say in the matter which was disappointing, so I have written a letter to the Superintendent Pharmacist in one of the multiples to voice my concern that locum pharmacists were not being seen as respected healthcare professionals within Pharmacy and that it was demoralising to continually see their salaries decreasing on a regular basis which was well-received and widely circulated initially on the popular social media app WhatsApp and then went viral throughout various social media channels and other respected Pharmacy publications.
It was then that the founder of the Pharmacist Cooperative, Tohidul Islam, invited me to join the board after being impressed by my continuous campaigning to protect both locum and employee community pharmacists in Pharmacy in my own time and together along with a few other pharmacists working in various different sectors in Pharmacy such as hospital, retail contractor, industry, general practice, academia as well as being based from all over the country have created a networking training and support group to cater all pharmacists which has since grown from strength to strength and have successfully provided training support as well as campaigning for various pharmacy issues and running national networking events for pharmacists.
For those that would like to contact me and are interested in the work that I do and looking for advice, I have written an article on the Pharmacist Cooperative website at https://oneprofession.com/blogs/working-as-a-gp-practice-pharmacist/
This article was written by
By Muhammad Siddiqur Rahman (MPharm, IPresc & tACP)
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