I have found the pharmacist independent prescribing course to be an eye-opening experience. I applied for the programme at Medway School of Pharmacy because I was searching for a challenge that would allow me to utilise the skills I have acquired as a pharmacist, and to be able to go one step further and actually prescribe or de-prescribe medications, rather than being limited to an advisory role.
I started the course while working full-time with Avicenna, but after a few months I went part-time and was offered a role as a part-time pharmacist for Parkwood Family Practice in Rainham, Kent. I found this to be hugely supportive, and it really helped to consolidate my learning from the course.
The advantages of having a GP pharmacist
I found it particularly interesting to discover that GPs – or indeed primary care staff – have very little knowledge of the prescription process after the script has been issued. Many prescriptions that were issued weren’t the most cost-efficient option. By having some hands-on experience at my practice, I could see just how advantageous having a pharmacist in this setting could be.
We constantly hear about time pressures in general practice and within the NHS in general, but it wasn’t until I was sat face-to-face with patients and the doctors that I could see the extent of this issue. I could see immediately just how valuable a pharmacist independent prescriber would be to the practice and, more importantly, to the patients.
Educating surgery staff
After a few short months, I have been able to educate the surgery staff on general community pharmacy procedures and why certain issues have arisen – such as stock issues, electronic prescriptions and repeat prescriptions. I have also educated myself about primary care procedures and what my role would be at this practice.
It’s easy to think once something is complete from your end it should go smoothly, but as seamless as we try to make the system for patients, we are inevitably faced with expected challenges within services. My aim as a pharmacist independent prescriber is to minimise these challenges. I want to be able to provide support to both the doctors and patients, ensuring as best as I can that the right patients are given the right drugs at the right time – thus ensuring excellent healthcare is being delivered.
Balancing work and study life
My cohort at university consisted of a range of prescribers including nurses and physiotherapists. All of them are aiming to go into the community to improve access for patients, and help create a more efficient healthcare system by providing increased one-to-one time with patients. Balancing work life and studying has been an interesting experience, and not one that I anticipated going through after the number of years that have passed since completing my degree.
I am grateful for the opportunity for my clinical professional development. Learning to critically analyse journals, write assignments and perform objective structured clinical examinations have been a few of the challenges I have faced over the last few months, all which have given me skills to support my future as a prescribing pharmacist.
Huge advantages in the GP and pharmacy sector
I look forward to showcasing what pharmacists were designed to do. After all, we are experts in medicines, and it’s fantastic to be able to have access to patients who are in need of this additional support and who would greatly benefit from improving their quality of life, by ensuring their medications are optimised.
I hope my experience encourages others to complete the programme. I do believe it has huge advantages – both in the GP and community pharmacy sectors.
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