82 per cent of 107 poll respondents said professionalism underpins everything they do. Some agreed professionalism was about acting honestly and with integrity, while others highlighted the importance of dressing well.
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Senators agreed professionalism affects every area of a pharmacist's life, and NHS England clinical adviser Jonathan Mason defined professionalism as "thinking all the time: would that behaviour be acceptable to my peers?".
Pharmacist Paresh Modasia stressed that he always ensured his staff "dressed appropriately" and agreed it was also about how pharmacists presented themselves outside of the workplace.
Superdrug superintendent Christine Burbage described how newly qualified pharmacists often complained they didn't feel respected as a profession. "I say to them: you don't automatically get respect for being a pharmacist, that's earned by the way you practice," she argued.
Catherine Duggan, Royal Pharmaceutical Society director of professional development and support, said being a professional was "a privilege". "I sometimes feel the esteem of the profession is a bit low and that's because we're not bigging up the privilege that being a pharmacist holds," she said.
People were increasingly seeing pharmacy "as a job, rather than a profession", argued Joy Wingfield, University of Nottingham professor of pharmacy law and ethics.
Setting new standards for pre-reg tutors and lecturers could help instil professionalism in the next generation of pharmacists, Professor Wingfield suggested. "We could ditch the pre-reg exam if we could rely on the quality and character of those who train our pre-regs," she explained. Contractor Aniruddh Patel agreed that pharmacy students were taught how to become a pharmacist but not "skills on how to be a good person".
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