The Future of Pharmacy is in our Hands

Hopefully, like me, you’re enjoying your time at university and excited for what lies ahead once you enter practice. Along the way, we might hear some horror stories and get dissuaded by the naysayers. I urge you to hold onto that appetite that brought you to study pharmacy in the first place! Your career is whatever you make of it, and a willingness to get stuck in will pay off. We may only be taking our baby steps into the world of pharmacy, but make no mistake that we have a voice and our opinions and aspirations are taken seriously.

Over the years, the MPharm degree has adopted an increasingly clinical focus. Once we graduate and register, we should be eager to utilise our skill set and put that knowledge into practice. The breadth of opportunities available to pharmacists is ever-increasing and, as the next generation, we are responsible for further development and expansion of these roles.

Our profession simply cannot afford to be static in a time of funding cuts, advancements in technology, and rapid changes in healthcare. With the medical profession going through a workforce crisis and the Conservative government harbouring an ambitious commitment to a seven day NHS, now is the perfect time for the pharmacy profession to take centre stage and prove its worth. Pharmacists will be vital to improving the NHS’ capacity and capability to care for older people and patients with long term conditions. This will necessitate expanded roles and enabling of better care.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society recently offered their response to the Government’s consultation on community pharmacy. They suggest the profession focuses on medicines optimisation and prevention of ill health. There is room for innovation and adapting models of care, such as pharmacists being at the forefront of improving care in care homes, and working more closely with GP surgeries. Training and support for independent prescribing to become a universal part of all pharmacists’ practice will be key, and as the next generation of pharmacists, we should push for this to happen as soon as possible.

Perhaps you fancy yourself as an advanced pharmacist practitioner, holding clinics and taking responsibility for the management of chronic conditions. Given our expertise in drug choice, pharmacological action, and pharmacokinetics, pharmacists are well-primed to take on prescribing duties, and many hospital trusts are embracing pharmacist prescribing. There are currently pilots of pharmacists being deployed in GP surgeries, and our generation will carry this work forward.

There are elements of clinical pharmacy in all roles currently available to pharmacists, but this aspect of practice will become more prominent as the healthcare system evolves. In particular, the community pharmacy sector stands at a crossroads as it faces existentially-defining challenges. Do we want to be retailers or clinicians?

Whatever your personal and professional  aspirations may be, don’t lose heart or abandon them; we are limited only by our confidence, experience, and adaptability.

Tom Byrne
BPSA Publications Officer 2015-16

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