Research is a young person’s game, an academic career pathway, something that doesn’t apply to me – to me, a middle-aged pharmacy professional with a background in community pharmacy support. So it was with some trepidation that I found myself booked into the NHS Research and Development (R&D) Forum Conference in Manchester, May 15-16 2017: not only booked in as a delegate but with a poster presentation and an RPS stand to man. So how did this come about?
Ten months ago I was appointed to cover a maternity leave position at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) as a Research Support Manager with responsibility for the Research Ready accreditation scheme for community pharmacy.
The RPS had just completed an evaluation of the Research Ready scheme which gave me the ideal professional development opportunity – to produce a poster presentation based on the evaluation and its results. Amazingly, the poster was accepted for the 2017 NHS R&D Forum Conference , an annual conference held in association with the Health Research Authority (HRA). The 2017 theme of the conference ‘Adding Value Together’ aimed to bring together research teams and partners in NHS R&D; clinical and non-clinical, university and industry, charitable and policy sector, including representation from all four Nations.
It was interesting to see, from speaking to the delegates, how everyone was driven to work together, across multidisciplinary teams including pharmacy, to improve patient care. The results of the Research Ready scheme evaluation identified that the main drivers for community pharmacy engagement in research activity were business and professional development and it was clear how important professional development is to research practitioners, whatever their background. Many of the local Clinical Research Networks and the Clinical Commissioning Groups representatives were very interested in the support that the RPS offers for pharmacists wanting to be involved in research. The academics in the audience were also keen to find out how pharmacy can support their studies – particularly around identifying patients and signposting to studies.
The event highlighted how important multidisciplinary working is in research and that there is still a lot of potential for pharmacy, particularly community pharmacy, to get involved.
So what have I learnt – three things: ‘Professional development is for life’, ‘It’s never too late’ and ‘Research is everyone’s business!’
If you are interested in getting involved in research or research support check out the resources available from the RPS. Remember – it’s never too late.
Research is everyone’s business!