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'Should I still bother attending pharmacy conferences?'

The 'Non-clinical' Pharmacist muses on what he took home from a recent pharmacy event

I don't often attend pharmacy conferences because when I’m not working I at least try and have a social life, plus I don't particularly like to network with other pharmacists.

But nevertheless, I attended a pharmacy conference in Birmingham recently. This involved having to park miles away from the venue and then walk the rest of the way, which wasn’t a great start. Things improved afterwards though, and I only got lost 27 times once I was inside the actual conference venue.

I bumped into a couple of former acquaintances from university. After making sure they hadn't been struck off or were doing better than me financially, I quickly ended the conversation, as I remembered that the reason why I was no longer in contact with them is because they are pretty boring.

I also hid from several people I recognised from Twitter, who position themselves as A-list celebrities when in fact they should be appearing in pharmacy panto this year – or on an alternative version of that TV popular show, ‘I'm a locum with no dispenser, get me out of here’. I do like to wander round and roll my eyes at those people from pharmacy Twitter taking copious selfies. It's like watching a cult.

If you have enough money, the organisers let you exhibit. While it was nice to pick up some freebies from the stands, I was disappointed in the quality of some of the exhibitors. I'm contractually obligated to say that the C+D stand was 'amazeballs'.

Surprisingly, there was no Royal Pharmaceutical Society stand trying to get me to rejoin the society or trying to flog faculty membership. But there were such exceptional exhibitors as: Beauty & Brows, British Body Beast, Cheeky Chompers, Karma Rub Liquid Magnesium, Massage the Senses Ltd, Noble Naturals and Pharmacy2me2UImgonnastealyourprescriptionsmwahhaha.

I was half expecting some apprentice candidates to be in attendance, selling a year's supply of some amazing cannabis oil products which have been ‘clinically proven’ to make pharmacies money. It’s always fun to pretend that I am in a position of authority and have purchasing power when I’m talking to exhibitors. One of them sucked me in though, and I have reserved a dispensing robot to put in the boot of my car when I’m locuming.

I didn't attend many talks and stayed away from the main stage, as the big words of the professors may have confused me. It was great to attend the ‘Women in Pharmacy’ session and see a bit of diversity and multiculturalism though, as I was getting pretty tired of seeing all-male panels.

I do wonder how conference organisers choose speakers – as often the same people have been appearing since 1978. Do they get paid to speak, or do they pay to be able to speak? Does anyone external quality assure their presentations?

Overall, I think I will attend again next year, as I will probably need more stationary and I liked the free samosas. I’m interested to hear from others in the sector. Are you a conference groupie who attends every one, or do you steer clear? Let me know on Twitter: @TheNonClinPharm.

The 'Non-clinical' Pharmacist is a community pharmacist and has worked in academia, general practice and hospital pharmacy.

C+D has unveiled a new generation of bloggers to report from the different corners of pharmacy. The anonymous writers – the first five of whom will be published each day this week – will shed light on different aspects of pharmacy in 2018. Click here to meet them.

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