Social Media and Pharmacists: Some Tips

As Head of Corporate Comms for the RPS, pharmacist Neal Patel spends a lot of his time communicating to and with pharmacists online. Here he gives us some of his tips to safely maximise your experience of social media as a pharmacist.

Tip 1 – Don’t hide behind a pseudonymnealpatel2

It is important to be open about your identity when using social media as a pharmacy professional. You wouldn’t send a letter without signing it, or strike up a conversation with someone without introducing yourself, so why would you tweet without letting others know who you are? Read more Social Media and Pharmacists: Some Tips

Faculty eight week fast track plan- Week five: Map your evidence

faculty-eight-week-blogAs mentioned in the previous blog, I have managed to merge week four and five by accident, and therefore I thought I may have been at a slight advantage this week. But, this week has been particularly tough with seven day service work commitments contributing to me feeling slightly ‘pharmacy-overloaded’.

I began the week with gusto, using my evidence summary to map to cluster one – expert professional practice. I felt the majority of my evidence supported the competencies and also then overlapped with others later on in the APF. Thereby, by completing one entry and summary statement, I could map it multiple times to other sections with ease. I seemed to be inputting my entries at a decent pace; but as I continued my confidence decreased, and I started questioning whether I had mapped the evidence correctly and explained the impact to the level of detail required that was sufficient for assessors to mark my portfolio on submission. At this point Sue came to my rescue when she suggested that we should try and meet up to discuss our progress in person.

Sue and I talked through one example of each other’s evidence that we had mapped to the portfolio. Although both of us are experienced in giving feedback in various forms it was apparent that we both had difficulty applying this to our own work and critiquing the entry. In both cases we both felt each other’s impact statement could be improved and strengthened by adding in specific detail. I was glad that Sue and I managed to meet up as this gave me confidence that ‘I was not alone’.

At this point in the programme I felt it was appropriate to discuss with my RPS mentor the challenges I was facing and how to overcome those. We discussed the journey through the programme so far and my concerns. It was valuable voicing them out-loud and even though it was over the phone with someone I had not met before, I found our chat to be really helpful. I explained my thought processes of how I had thought about my evidence and then mapped some roles with lots of sub sections, therefore using it as one entry with lots of competencies. But where I had led on a large project that had strong evidence, I used it as a stand-alone entry which mapped to fewer competencies. The advice from my mentor was to: “Be bold”

As pharmacists we can look at every detail and decide that our evidence may lack validity or standing, and therefore think we perhaps could only meet ‘advanced stage one’. My mentor suggested looking at the descriptors of the evidences the other way round i.e. start with Mastery and then work my way down. I found this to be really thought provoking, as my meticulous nature has meant I started mapping from cluster one and competency one and stages in ascending order.

Week five has come to an end and although I have not accomplished all that I had wanted in terms of mapping the evidence. I now feel clearer in my mind about how to input the entries. As I write the impact statement I used the descriptors from the competencies to help explain how I achieved it. I now have all my entries added to the portfolio and I will continue to map the evidences next week.

image-150x150Sue’s thoughts
I was apprehensive going into week five as I didn’t finish week four properly, and rightly so I’m afraid.  The mapping is taking me a lot more time than I thought it would.  The difficulty is in getting the right amount of information to describe the activity but leaving enough space to show the impact of my evidence. Amareen and I both wrote ours with that in mind but when we met and read each other’s we both realised that we hadn’t done it fully.  It is always difficult to write about yourself and it’s the same here.  This is where having a buddy really helps and we could have spent hours bouncing ideas off each other for each cluster but sadly we didn’t have the time.  What we have decided though is that once we have finished, we will proof read each other’s to check we have demonstrated the impact each time.

Amareen and I approached it in different ways too.  I decided to start with the research cluster as I thought this was the one I had least evidence for, so should finish it quickly and feel I was making progress! I have also decided to write most of the summaries once I have written the impact so I can see what I need to fit in.  I used aspects from my CV as I put a fair amount of detail in there which has proved useful. We’ll see how that works this week!

Some hints for this stage are to refresh yourself of some of the earlier videos available on the RPS website as it is difficult to take everything in the first time you listen and you can fast forward over the bits you don’t need. The handbook can sometimes provide a bit more direction too where it describes the clusters in the APF guidance.  I also discovered the help button on the left hand side of the e-portfolio as this clarifies some things. I discovered that minimally supports means you are an observer, supports mean you contributed and strongly supports that you led it.  It’s also very helpful with the evidence category.

I have not yet heard back about my mentor but I am saving up questions.  Having talked to Amareen about her discussion with her mentor I’ve been trying to “Be Bold” too.  It still doesn’t feel right to state that I have “mastery” of something so I’m hoping my mentor will reassure me that I can justify it occasionally at least!

I’m heading into the next week feeling a little more like I can achieve this but very aware of the amount of time needed.  Having the eight week programme is definitely a drive to keep going though, as is Amareen!

Faculty eight week fast track plan- Week four: Add evidence to portfolio

faculty-eight-week-blogI was fairly optimistic for the start of week four, as I had previously collected evidence for the portfolio during week two. However the week did not turn out as planned. Firstly, when I started adding the evidence to the portfolio, I thought it was best to add it cluster by cluster as this would be the most logical process. Using the evidence summary as a guide, I uploaded evidence and ticked it off on the paperwork so that I could keep track of my progress.

Reflecting on this process, I feel that this may have been more time consuming as I added the evidence for cluster one: expert professional practice and then mapped it to the APF competencies. The advantage of this is that I completed one cluster at a time, but the disadvantage was it was time consuming. Also, some of the examples that I have added may overlap with other clusters and competencies; therefore perhaps my process was not as efficient as I first thought. By the end of week four, I had added all my evidences to cluster one and mapped it, however whilst discussing this with Sue, I realised that I have merged week four and five by doing so.

In hindsight, I could have benefited from writing down the headlines of each piece of evidence and then tabulating which competencies they map to across all six clusters, so that when I added the evidence to the clusters, I mapped all of it in one go.

I found myself questioning my decision making regarding the evidence I had chosen and also quality and description of impact statement that I was uploading. I emailed the RPS support team with my thoughts and also had an example of evidence looked at. It was beneficial to receive feedback from an outside perspective as it’s sometimes difficult to critique your own work and identify gaps. I was given feedback that I was on track with my impact statement but I needed to be more explicit regarding the actual impact eg greater consistency of training leading to improved patient safety. Whilst discussing the evidence and my questions and thoughts over email, I was offered the opportunity to be assigned a RPS Faculty mentor, which I definitely think is needed at this point of the programme when working on the portfolio is the focus as they are experts in the Faculty process.

I discussed my process with Sue, and it was apparent that we had both approached week four very differently.

image-150x150Sue’s thoughts
This week has certainly been more time consuming and I hadn’t realised quite how much time it would take.  My approach was to list all the evidences without any mapping and I found these were fairly easy to enter. I started simply by going down my CV to add in all the relevant roles.  I was tempted to go into detail at first describing all the events that I knew would map to the competences but I then realised it would be clearer to the reviewers if I separated out certain events from my roles that warranted that extra detail and deserved an entry of their own.
It was great having identified all the dates etc. for the CV so I could just transfer that across.

For each of the roles I just did a basic description of what the role was and I got better at this as I went through my CV.  For the summary I’ve kept it fairly brief for the time being as it will depend on which of the events I take out and enter separately.  I decided initially to include the work that was definitely a typical part of that role e.g. providing a clinical service to cardiology, but where I undertook a new project out of my own initiative that became a separate entry.

I have to confess I haven’t made it to the end of my list of entries this week so I recommend you perhaps either start earlier on this bit or put in a buffer week to help you catch up as it does take some hours to input everything even having identified it in previous weeks.  If I did it again I would recommend you having a go at numbering your proposed entries on the “map your best bits” so you have some idea of the numbers of entries before you start.  This will also give you an understanding of the time required!

It was really interesting meeting with Amareen and discussing our different approaches.  Both of us could see the advantages of each other’s approach but felt we had both made similar progress.  Amareen has helped me with the next week by highlighting the feedback she had from the RPS on the impact statement but I’ve got her thinking about maybe thinking more about her entries before starting the mapping with the rest of her sections.  Either way for both of us I think there are going to be a few late nights this week!

Faculty eight week fast track plan- Week three: Update your CV

faculty-eight-week-blogHooray for week three! I knew that updating my CV couldn’t be too time-consuming as I had last updated it in January 2016, and locating it wouldn’t be an arduous process, or would it?!

Whilst I tried to locate my CV on various devices, USBs, and email accounts. I downloaded the CV template from the RPS website. The RPS template was easy-to-use and there were only a few sections that I needed to incorporate such as personal and professional skills which were included in my previous CV template but not explicitly in its own section. Once I had located my CV (thank you HR department at the University of Reading), I transferred the information over to the RPS template. You do not have to use the RPS template, however if you do not use the template the CV format must reflect all the detail set out by RPS. Therefore, I felt it was easier to copy the information across to the RPS template. Read more Faculty eight week fast track plan- Week three: Update your CV

Week two: Collate your best evidence

faculty-eight-week-blogWhen I first looked at the outline of the eight week faculty fast track programme, week two always stood out as one that may be more difficult to tackle. I had lots of examples of project streams and experience that I have gained over the last few years, and achievements that I am proud of that I felt showcased strong evidence for some of the APF clusters. However, I was acutely aware of cluster six: research and evaluation, where like most pharmacists in practice it is usually the weakest area, unless it forms an integral part of your current role. For me, currently, research has taken the back seat whilst I develop my leadership and management skills, and I have also concentrated on developing my education and training competences due to my current role. By recognising this ‘weakness’ in my portfolio, it has prompted me to seek actively research opportunities and to reflect on any past projects that I have completed where I could have shared the findings. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I now need to ensure I move from ‘research aware’ to ‘research active.’ Read more Week two: Collate your best evidence

Faculty eight week fast track plan – Week one: Identify peers

faculty-eight-week-blogby Amareen Kamboh MRPharmS PGDipGPP PGCertClinEd FHEA – Senior Teaching Fellow, and programme lead for the JPB postgraduate diploma at the Centre for Inter-Professional Postgraduate Education and Training (CIPPET) at the University of Reading. Education and Training Lead Pharmacist, Educational Programme Director for pre-registration pharmacists at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

I began the Faculty Fast Track by familiarising myself with the resources on Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) website that were associated with the peer review, I wrote a down a list of peers that I could contact to assist with the peer review process. Peer review is valuable in supporting the Faculty assessment, and also is a useful validation and quality control to support professional development. The RPS Faculty pages recommend identifying 15 to 20 individuals from a variety of different roles and experience. I chose a range of peers that I have worked with in both academia and secondary care. From this list I identified those who I had mentored and tutored, members of the multidisciplinary team and senior team members and line managers. As well as identifying peers in my current organisation and university role I also contacted team members from the previous trust that I worked for where I first started as an education and training lead. Alongside this, I also felt it was important to obtain feedback from fellow education and training leads from neighbouring trusts, who I work alongside for regional roles in order to capture feedback fully, identify areas for development and evaluate my current working practice. Read more Faculty eight week fast track plan – Week one: Identify peers

The value of a summer placement

nahim-imageNahim Khan, Senior Lecturer at the University of Chester  and a Clinical pharmacist, spoke to us about his experiences in summer placements, and how they taught him the necessary skills to be a pharmacist that the classroom couldn’t provide. Read more The value of a summer placement

Make the most of your placement

marias-photoI would have never believed it if someone had told me that come my 2nd year of studying Pharmacy I would be working at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s publishing body, Pharmaceutical Press (PhP). Their logo was everywhere, from my lecture slides to reference books, which is what made the interview so surreal – I was sitting in a room, meeting the editor of one of the major pharmaceutical publications, the Martindale. It was overwhelming; I was at the heart of where the most treasured publications are created. Read more Make the most of your placement

Faculty eight week fast track plan – my experience

faculty-eight-week-blogAmareen Kamboh MRPharmS PGDipGPP PGCertClinEd FHEA – Senior Teaching Fellow, and programme lead for the JPB postgraduate diploma at the Centre for Inter-Professional Postgraduate Education and Training (CIPPET) at the University of Reading. Education and Training Lead Pharmacist, Educational Programme Director for pre-registration pharmacists at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

For a while I have been contemplating starting my Faculty application for professional recognition of advance practice to validate my experience post-registration as an education and training lead pharmacist. Once my development has been recognised post-nominals will be granted that signify my stage in practice. This provides a means of demonstrating to patients, the public and my employer, that I have achieved a designated level, thus providing evidence of capability as a professional.

Read more Faculty eight week fast track plan – my experience

Putting Medicines Safety First in Wales

26.06.14 Royal Pharmaceutical SocietyRob Davies, member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Welsh Pharmacy Board reflects on the 2015 Medicines Safety Conference and the benefits of attending this year’s forthcoming event.

As a pharmacist and independent prescriber, medicines safety is an issue close to my heart. It is our pre-occupation as a profession, ensuring medicines are appropriate for the patient, are taken safely and as intended. I was excited therefore to attend the RPS Wales annual Medicines Safety Conference last year to hear about strategic plans for Wales and to learn more from practice examples. Read more Putting Medicines Safety First in Wales