How to get an NIHR research fellowship

Mandy WanBy Mandy Wan, Lead Paediatric Clinical Trials Pharmacist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and HEE/ NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow

I was delighted to hear just before Christmas that I was successful with an NIHR fellowship application and want to encourage more pharmacists to apply for funding and to lead research.

I have been a paediatric clinical trials pharmacist for most of the past 10 years, so am lucky to already be closely engaged in research work and have an understanding of how research can really impact day to day practice.
I applied for NIHR funding 2 years ago but I wasn’t successful. This time, I decided to apply again with a different topic. My research question came from a common query that kept coming through to the pharmacy department; what dose of Vitamin D is appropriate in children? Read more How to get an NIHR research fellowship

Why get involved in Quality Improvement?

Fiona Jones, Welsh Pharmacy Board Picture by Nick Treharne

Author: Fiona Jones, Welsh Pharmacy Board
Picture by Nick Treharne

Why get involved in Quality Improvement? I’m sure everyone asks these question.
Do I have time?
How much work is involved?
Will it make a difference?

Like you, I too thought I didn’t have any time, or maybe the skills to start making a difference, I may have felt that it’s easier to keep doing what I’ve always done. However back in 2012 I undertook the RPS Leadership course and from then on I haven’t looked back.

I started looking at how we could integrate pharmacy into the wider teams locally and started having meetings with the local district nurses and social workers. They were very keen to have some pharmacy input and so our domiciliary medicines support service started to grow.

Our first step was to find a suitable e-mail address that everyone could access. Subsequently we promoted this via posters and meetings to raise awareness. Within 12 months we had referrals from occupational therapists, social workers, carers, district nurses and the local memory clinics.

Data was collected on who was making the referral and the interventions/contributions that my team were making to support patients at home. Over the last 4 years we continued to expand the service into other areas across Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board central in North Wales.

This all looked good, so I decided to enter the service for the NHS Wales awards. Surprisingly we reached the final and attended the ceremony in the autumn of last year.
We were one of only two Primary Care finalists and one of only two pharmacy teams out of 167 applicants.

So my challenge to all pharmacists out there is to get involved and showcase all the great work you do. Take the next step and go for the National awards – you never know what will happen.

This year 1000 Lives, the national improvement service for NHS Wales, have been challenged by the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport Vaughan Gething AM, to continue to support all finalists with the vision of extending these exciting services nationally.

So get your application ready for the launch on 8th February and GOOD LUCK!

A look into China’s history of pharmacy and herbal medicine

A72BB1 The Great Wall Mutianyu China


In November 2016, twenty RPS members had the chance to take part in the ‘Pharmacy in China Tour 2016. Fellow of the RPS Dr Stuart Anderson FRPharmS, led the trip, he shares his two week experience.

“When I was told in September 2015 that the RPS were hoping to support a study tour to China with Jon Baines tours and asked me if I might be interested in acting as tour leader I jumped at the chance, having previously visited Shanghai and Hong Kong. After a lot of planning and promotion the two-week Pharmacy in China Tour finally took place in November 2016.

Twenty of us met up for the first time at our hotel in Beijing on Saturday afternoon. It was a delightfully mixed group; some recently and some not so recently retired pharmacists and their partners, some still with very busy careers, either just beginning and others well established, and some pharmacy students who had managed to take time out from their studies. Backgrounds too extended from community pharmacy proprietors to hospital, regulatory and industrial pharmacists. In the evening we met up with our Chinese guide, Zhong (‘John’). Read more A look into China’s history of pharmacy and herbal medicine

Life as a consultant cancer pharmacist

steve williamson

Pharmacy has an important role to play regarding new and existing cancer treatments, we chat to Consultant Cancer Pharmacist and Chair of British Oncology Pharmacy Association, Steve Williamson MRPharmS(IPresc), MSc who explains his area of work in more detail.

What was your first contact with pharmacy as a profession?

When I was 16 I visited my local Hospital where my mum worked as an ITU nurse and met the clinical pharmacist who worked on her unit, after talking to him I decided that I wanted to be a hospital pharmacist.

What does your current role involve and how did you get there?

I’m consultant Cancer Pharmacist, for a large progressive NHS Trust Northumbria, and lead the Trust chemotherapy service, my job involves clinical work with cancer patients, as a prescriber, being responsible for the chemotherapy service and leading the pharmacy input into oncology. I also work for NHS England as a cancer pharmacist advising commissioners on how to get best value in cancer medicines for patients and NHS.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy the Variety my role brings, the chance to both work as part of a team, helping to set standards for chemotherapy and ensure patients get access to the best medicines. But the most satisfying part of the role is working directly with patients helping them manage their chemotherapy.

What is the best piece of advice you have for other pharmacists looking to get into a similar area?

Hospital pharmacy is varied with huge opportunities in many areas, there is great satisfaction in being a prescriber and making clinical decisions for the better of patients, oncology & chemotherapy is an area that most hospital pharmacies will provide training in, so my advice is to embrace it and look for opportunities to work directly with patients and then think about pursuing a specialist oncology pharmacy role.

‘You can visit BOPA, or the RPS faculty of Cancer Pharmacists to find out more about oncology pharmacy.

Dear exams, I will give you everything I have.


Suyee Chan (002)The most common pieces of advice I’ve been given deal with stress, time management and maximising concentration, but there’s not much about optimising the way we study. As a visual learner with two years of trial and error, below are some study methods I used for MPharm exams, as well as what I plan to achieve this year.

In year 1, I was organised but studying became a bit of a chore.

Notes: Handwriting all of my notes and organising into folders.

Studying: Mostly using books, Khan Academy and youtube videos. For revision, I made posters and did past paper questions.

Tools: I organised my life, work and studies using list pads and a bullet journal.

In year 2, I explored new study methods.

Notes: I typed up my lecture notes initially, then created mind maps containing relevant content by hand. I also listened to some lectures that I recorded (ones that overwhelmed me), relevant podcasts and revision notes. For chemistry mechanisms and anatomical diagrams, I found that drawing on a whiteboard reinforced my learning.

Studying: During revision period, getting together with friends was a good strategy to learn more in a short amount of time, not only because a group can focus on multiple topics, but for the support and motivation as well. We also wrote, exchanged, answered and marked each other’s’ exam-style questions; this challenged me to refine my understanding of each topic and more importantly, step into the examiner’s shoes.

Tools: Here are some free apps I personally recommend:

1) Microsoft OneNote – for organising notes
2) Forest – for time management
3) Paper by FiftyThree – for visual notes
4) Memrise – for creating flash cards
5) Coffitivity – for concentration

In year 3, I am motivated to do better by using methods that suit me. One revision tip we see everywhere is to set specific and realistic goals, so this year I have planned to:

● Create notes with relevant links for future reference – find out about anything that causes confusion there and then, either by looking it up or asking somebody.
● Explain complex content in my own words so they make sense in the future.
● Recite important points.
● Make revision posters and do past paper questions.
● When term ends, start a journal with timetables (and follow them!).

Providing a Travel Medicines Service



By Cathy O’Malley RGN, Dip Trav Med, MFTM RCPS(Glasg), Travel Health Specialist Nurse, Member of the Faculty of Travel Medicine Education board RCPSG

65.7 million UK residents travelled abroad in 2015; a substantial growth on previous years, with more people seeking travel health advice from community pharmacists.

So what does providing a travel medicine
service entail?

A risk assessment should be performed; gathering detailed information about the trip and traveller. RCN guidance; Travel Health Nursing 2 lists questions to ask and recommends using this information to tailor advice to the individual. It is vital to use a comprehensive database for information on travel associated risks eg NaTHNaC or TRAVAX. Travellers may require vaccines and prevention advice. Immunisation against infectious disease – contains guidance on vaccines, contraindications and schedules. Some travellers will require malaria advice: Awareness of risk, Bite avoidance, Chemoprophylaxis and the importance of prompt Diagnosis. The PHE 2015 Guidelines for malaria prevention in Travellers from the UK are an extremely useful resource. Pharmacists may be experienced advising on sun protection and bite avoidance; however it is important to develop knowledge.

Pharmacists may be experienced advising on sun protection and bite avoidance; however it is important to develop knowledge on a range of topics such as Zika virus, rabies post-exposure management and advising the complex traveller.

What training is recommended for Travel
Health advisors?

A two day introduction to Travel Health course (minimum of 15 hours relevant learning) plus mentorship should be completed before undertaking a travel consultation alone. Practitioners should attend an annual update4. Pharmacists may consider the Foundation in Travel Medicine/Diploma in Travel Medicine courses.

The RPS and the Faculty of Travel of Travel Medicine are holding a joint travel medicines symposium on 18th March 2017.

What to expect

  • An exciting opportunity to hear the latest news and updates from Travel Medicine Specialists and a chance to network with other health professionals. Professor Peter Chiodini (Consultant Parasitologist & PHE Director of the Malaria Reference Laboratory) & Jane Chiodini (Travel Health Nurse Specialist & Director of Education, Faculty of Travel Medicine) will present on the latest changes to Malaria
    prevention advice.
  • Pharmacist Jan Jones will talk about the highs and lows of providing a travel medicine service in the commercial world and Pharmacist Fiona Mara on advising those travelling with medications.
  • Sarah Lang (Immunisation Nurse Specialist) will present on common challenges in Vaccine administration.

Places are limited, book now to avoid disappointment.

Long Term Conditions Campaign in Wales

suzanne-scott-thomasAuthor: Suzanne Scott-Thomas, Chair of the Welsh Pharmacy Board

At our 6th Annual Medicines Safety Conference on November 3, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales (RPS Wales) launched its policy Improving Care for People with Long Term Conditions. As part of our RPS campaign across Great Britain, this policy and its recommendations aims to improve the care of people with long term conditions through better use of medicines and greater engagement of the skills of pharmacists. Taking into account the increased prevalence of long term conditions and comorbidities, the policy takes a holistic and strategic view of our profession’s role in four key areas of long term Read more Long Term Conditions Campaign in Wales

Faculty eight week fast track plan: Week 8 – Submit for assessment

faculty-eight-week-blogFaculty eight week fast track plan Week eight: Submit for assessment

Here we are, week eight; I cannot believe how fast the eight weeks have gone. But we have done it, both Sue and I submitted our portfolios. It’s a strange feeling, I am not sure I feel as relieved as I thought I would. I guess once the outcome of the assessment is known, then I will feel the process is complete.

I definitely recommend having a buddy as peer support was integral to making it through the eight weeks, and if you are both submitting in the same area of practice that’s even better. Through the ups and downs of the eight weeks having someone to share the rollercoaster ride definitely helped. Also, as we have both previously worked together in similar roles, we were both able to add to each other’s portfolios in terms of remembering examples of good evidence we had both led on in those roles.

My top tips would be:

  • Find a buddy!
  • Start collating your evidence as soon as possible. This was the most time consuming part for me, as I almost tried to include every example and variation of job role I had. Once I got confident in making my entries, I realised not every example was needed and that its the strongest examples that were needed.
  • Once you have all your examples, map them to as many entries as possible. Then reflect back on any gaps or duplication.
  • Quantify your entries to show impact and value i.e how many members of staff you line manage and over what timescale.
  • Make sure you leave plenty of time to proof read the portfolio, I had lots of typos and auto-corrects to amend!
  • Realise the commitment, it is time consuming and a challenging process. I dedicated a lot of hours after work and on weekends to complete this. But, I now have goals for the future career development.
  • The eight week plan gave me structure and guided me through the process. I think if I had begun my portfolio outside of the programme, I would have found excuses to delay submitting!

I hope the blogs have been insightful and helpful. Our aim when Sue and I first started this journey, was to reflect on the reality of completing the Faculty assessment and inspire others to do so.

image-150x150Sue’s thoughts
Oh my goodness it’s finally submitted. Sometimes I thought I wouldn’t get this far but I have.  Hooray!  So a summary of my top tips

1) Use the Faculty Member Handbook for writing your impact statements as it describes the requirements in a little more detail so you can use more of the descriptions in your statement

2) Use the words from the cluster – it really helps you to show you have made the impact

3) Do it in concentrated chunks as your entries improve with practise and it takes a while to get back into it each time

4) Leave a whole weekend free for the final read through and adjustment as there is a lot to go through. To ensure consistency and make sure you don’t repeat information it is better to do it in one go too.

5) Read your peer testimonials – hopefully they’ll cheer you up and motivate you!

Use your CV as it’s easy to forget what you’ve achieved in previous roles.

I hope you’ve found the blog useful and thank you for reading it!  It provided me with another entry for my portfolio too!

Start your Faculty 8 Week fast track plan today


Previous Fast Track Blog Series

Faculty eight week fast track plan: Week 7 – Update your portfolio

faculty-eight-week-blogAmareen: Week seven has been a positive week; I have finally uploaded all my entries and there are no gaps on my portfolio matrix, which is an accomplishment in itself! This has certainly given me a positive outlook going forward to the final week. When I completed my last entry for the portfolio it was extremely satisfying looking at all the work that had gone into completing the portfolio, but also reflecting back on key achievements in my pharmacy career. Having this all recorded in front of me on the e-portfolio shows how much I have progressed with education and training initiatives, but also has helped me identify what to focus on in the upcoming years.

Ironically, the cluster I left last to map was Education and Training, as that is the sole component of my current role; I almost felt I had too much evidence to map. I therefore, found it tricky to pin-point which was the strongest examples to meet the competencies.

I met with Sue to discuss our impact statements, as this is the area of concern for both of us. Would the assessor understand the context of the entries and have we actually shown the impact of the evidence, was some of our questions we had. As we both find it easier to give feedback to each other, we swapped our portfolios so that we could comment on each other’s entries. If you go to ‘my portfolio’ and then click on reports, then advanced practice portfolio transcript you can download a pdf copy of the portfolio with entries and impact statements. Sometimes there’s value in printing the document and getting out the red pen!

I also completed my REPP assessment this week. I was slightly apprehensive in the morning leading up to the scheduled time for the assessment, as I questioned whether the case studies I submitted were appropriate in showing advanced practice or would there be questions that I could not answer. I had a strange ‘butterfly in stomach feeling’ as if I was about to sit for an exam. Thankfully, the REPP assessment went really well, and it was roughly an hour long discussion over Skype. It was a really valuable experience and an opportunity to discuss education and training in further depth with a peer that has more experience than I have. I found it really rewarding and I would like to thank Laura O’Loan, Assistant Director for Vocational Programmes at Northern Ireland Centre for Pharmacy Learning and Development for conducting the assessment and positively reinforcing my key achievements thus far.


image-150x150Sue: Well this week has certainly been a busy week. One advantage I’ve found though is if you do the portfolio over a concentrated period of time you get better at it! Sadly I still haven’t got a mentor so my advice is to get this organized early on! I’m still struggling with peer testimonials but I’ve sent a final reminder and hope they’re not offended by the third one! I have enough but not from the ones I think will enhance my evidence well.

Amareen and I met this week and discussed some entries again. We were able to give each other ideas for strengthening our evidence too which is good. We also met with someone who had submitted her application who didn’t get the outcome she wanted so we had a worrying time but hope that our evidence from academia will see us through that our colleague didn’t include in hers.

I’ve now entered enough pieces of evidence so I’m fine tuning them so the entries fit nicely with the impact statements and that’s my plan for the rest of this final week. It is feeling more like I have the evidence I need but I won’t know until it is submitted! It has certainly been a chance to reflect on what has gone well in my career and perhaps where my strengths lie and thus a useful experience just based on that!

The end is in sight! What a rollercoaster journey it’s been!