I always wanted to be a clinical pharmacist and was so disheartened when I missed the hospital pre-registration interviews due to a pre-booked family holiday. So after a pre-registration year at Boots I applied for a Band 6 resident pharmacist post.
After this, I bravely applied for a post as an 8a practice based pharmacist in a CCG. At the time I was expecting my first child, so I took the opportunity to split my roles and work one day a week as a practice based pharmacist and two days a week as an admissions pharmacist.
I continued this split role in both primary and secondary care for three years, during which I completed a clinical diploma and qualified as an independent prescriber.
My next career move was as a full time lead pharmacist for Diabetes and Renal Medicine and Medicines Information Manager. During this time I completed my RPS Faculty portfolio and was very proud to be awarded the title of Faculty Champion by the RPS.
Not only does it increase your sphere of expertise, but also allows you to appreciate the whole patient journey.
I also undertook a clinical pharmacy Masters degree and was fortunate to be offered the role of course tutor at a higher education institute where I was involved in the postgraduate clinical diploma.
At this point I started wondering what I wanted to do next. Was there any progression for me in secondary care as a clinical pharmacist? How could I improve myself further? These questions led to me applying for a part time clinical teaching fellow post, this time teaching undergraduate pharmacists. I decided that I wanted to teach and develop the future workforce. This role went hand in hand with a practice based clinical role in primary care, a requirement of the academic role.
What’s the difference?
Having experienced different sectors of pharmacy practice, I have reflected on their similarities. The ‘clinical’ pharmacy role that I always wanted early in my career is still what I practice today. The skills I developed from working in secondary care—problem solving, clinical interventions, clinical assessment and critical evaluation—are all transferable to primary care and academia.
The up-to-date knowledge and numerous skills I was armed with continues to give me the confidence, competence and resilience to deliver in my new role.
The subtle differences are the settings: in secondary care I was dealing with acute and emergency care, and in primary care I’m focussing on long term conditions and preventing admissions. In my opinion, ‘the interface’ doesn’t actually exist—it’s a concept which only exists if we let it.
I am really enjoying my current roles in academia and primary care. They are a culmination of all the things I wanted to do, and my passion for teaching and clinical pharmacy is fulfilled. I would encourage all pharmacists to gain experience in different sectors. Not only does it increase your sphere of expertise, but also allows you to appreciate the whole patient journey.
If you are considering a change of sector I would encourage you to follow your instincts; you are equipped with the knowledge and skills to conquer anything.