C+D Senators have called for a network of mentors to provide support to pharmacists, warning that some feel "abandoned" once they have graduated.
Speakers at the C+D Senate on professionalism last week (August 22) suggested that the pharmacist support networks needed to be better connected to allow pharmacists to receive advice on professional issues after they qualify.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) director of professional development and training Catherine Duggan said she was concerned pharmacists felt unsupported to discuss difficult situations with their peers.
"Professionalism doesn't stop on registration. You get these shocking calls from people who are feeling abandoned and having to make a tricky decision. They need someone to talk to" Catherine Duggan, RPS
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"We do it very well with students and then we abandon them in the professional world. Professionalism doesn't stop on registration," she said."You get these shocking calls from people who are feeling abandoned and having to make a tricky decision. They need someone to talk to."
Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) director John Murphy said he would support a proposal for every pharmacist to have a mentor.
"We find quite a lot of people phoning us with professional dilemmas. It's obvious that those people who come to us probably don't have any mentor in the profession who they can turn to," he said.
Pharmacists working in individual pharmacies were more isolated than their colleagues in multiples and might not have the same access to a good support network, he added.
University of Nottingham professor of pharmacy law and ethics Joy Wingfield said that Pharmacist Support, the RPS and the PDA offered good support services to pharmacists, but these needed to be "much more comprehensive".
Medicines Management Partnership director of consultancy Mark Robinson said being able to maintain a network of colleagues who could offer advice was an "element of professionalism".
"I have a network of half a dozen people that I can trust. Everyone who is a professional will have to maintain a network," said Mr Robinson, who is also pharmacy, medicines and medicines optimisation advisor for NHS Alliance.
GP Martyn Lobley, who has been mentoring GPs since he was a third year medical student, said he was "amazed" at how unsupported pre-reg pharmacists were compared with GPs.
Contractor and senior lecturer in public health at Imperial College Paresh Modasia described how a mentor system he set up in his own pharmacy was working well.
"When my pre-reg qualifies, he has to start mentoring the next one. So we get a continuation of at least one year of mentoring. That's been working for the past four years," he said.
Would you be happy to be a professional mentor for a newly graduated pharmacist?