Government proposals to cap pharmacy student numbers attracted wide-ranging reaction across community pharmacy at the end of last year. Numark's director of pharmacy services Mimi Lau explains why the plans could boost the sector overall.
It may seem at times a long and daunting journey to become a qualified pharmacist, but it's certainly worth the travel.
Once qualified, the career opportunities are limitless. It may be a career in community, hospital, industry, academia, journalism – you're only restricted by your imagination. There is also the flexibility to choose the hours and patterns of work to suit, and to return to practice after career breaks.
Now that the government is proposing to cap undergraduate intake numbers, it will help to instil confidence in the workforce in securing a pre-registration placement and subsequent permanent position after four years of hard studying and significant financial investment.
The new policy should, in essence, drive up the quality of students who are accepted for study through the university selection process, given the potentially limited number of places.
This should subsequently produce future pharmacists who are highly motivated, confident and competent for all sectors of pharmacy. This is an all-important requirement, given that pharmacists must be professionals who are trusted, respected and highly valued by patients and the NHS.
Once qualified, the career opportunities are limitless. It may be a career in community, hospital, industry, academia, journalism – you're only restricted by your imagination
Further healthcare policy changes will propel the pharmacist to use their medicines expertise to offer an increasing breadth and depth of readily accessible, patient-centred services. Working with healthcare colleagues and patients will be a necessity to enhance the patient's experience and improve their health outcomes, which will subsequently translate to a value proposition in the eyes of the NHS.
These changes must bring a buzz of excitement to students aspiring to be a pharmacist. The ability to make a real difference to a patient's care cannot be underestimated, as well as the esteem and pride that comes from the recognition of fellow colleagues within and withoutout the pharmacy profession.