Antimicrobial stewardship – are you doing your bit?

by Jacquie Sneddon, Project Lead for the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the top threats to human healthcare with an estimated 50,000 deaths per year from resistant infection across Europe and the US. This figure will reach 10 million by 2050 unless we act now to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

With few new antibiotics in the pipeline we need to ensure we are using antibiotics appropriately – this means cut out unnecessary use and ensure when they are required that prescriptions comply with evidence-based guidance. This is the basis of antimicrobial stewardship. So what does this mean for pharmacists?

AMS is important in all sectors of pharmacy

Read more Antimicrobial stewardship – are you doing your bit?

Don’t put off your pre-reg exam revision

Pre-reg revision course speaker, NadiaBy Nadia Bukhari, Senior Teaching Fellow & Pre-reg coordinator, UCL School of Pharmacy

Have you started thinking about your knowledge gaps and what your revision should look like between now and the exam in the summer? You may well think that the GPhC summer assessment is so far away that its too early to think about it now. However from my experience in working very closely with pre-reg trainees over several years, those who begin making plans in January are far more likely to pass the exam come June.

The best place to kick off your preparation for the assessment is at the RPS pre-registration revision course in London on the 26-27 January and there are several reasons for this.

As a mentor for emerging young leaders taking an active interest in their development and building their skills, I have an invested interest in pre-registration trainees getting the results they want when the GPhC release the results later in the year.

Don’t wait, get in early

Joining an RPS revision course early is the best thing you can do and this can really set you up for the remainder of your pre-registration year and beyond. This year, delegates will be allowed to take their mock exam papers away, which will be invaluable in helping to identify and address the knowledge gaps over the following months. You will also have a great opportunity to network and meet new peers who could be a really important part of your support or social network going forward, as well as the contact you will have with some of the top experts in pre-registration and early years pharmacy. These interactions should not be underestimated and the courses provide a fantastic platform for this.

What you can expect from the pre-reg revision course

The courses have been designed by a team of expert professionals to give pre-registration trainees a real taste for what the GPhC exam requires to pass and what it feels like to actually take part in one. Please take a look at an example programme.

The first day offers an intense overview of the exam contents and aims to bring everyone up to speed ready for the mini mock on day two. You will be taken through core topics such as, the essentials of pharmacy law and ethics, pharmaceutical calculations and high risk drugs and therapeutic drug monitoring.

The second day is a mini mock exam, sat in full exam conditions to give you the ideal preparation ahead of the real thing! This year, for the first time, you will be able to take the exam away so you can use it for your own revision at home.

Our revision courses have been a great success for many years now and the feedback is always great. We know that of our members who attended one of our courses last year, 91% of them went on to pass the exam. A previous delegate said that the course is “vital to knowing what to expect in the exam and how to plan forward revision”.

Don’t hesitate and book your place at one of the RPS pre-reg revision courses now to give yourself the best chance of passing the exam and making it to practice.

Build a successful grant application

Successful grant application writer

by Justine Tomlinson, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Here is my experience in building a successful grant application. With a background in community pharmacy, and in terms of research I’d only ever been involved with company audit and practice questionnaires. Starting my PhD was a challenging experience for a number of reasons; the main one being that I needed to prepare a grant application for funding. I absolutely did not know where to start or what I required in order to give myself the best chances of being successful. It all felt rather overwhelming!

I decided to attend the RPS’ two-day Research Proposal Writing workshop (early 2017) facilitated by Professor Felicity Smith, to see what I could learn in the way of ‘grantsmanship’. The different sessions within the workshop touched on absolutely everything that I needed to know to begin building a successful application – from creating a sound research plan to enlisting co-applicants and utilising public and patient involvement effectively.

The small group size was great. This meant there was time to discuss everyone’s ideas and develop personal action plans. It was encouraging to be able to talk about my own research with like-minded individuals and get feedback from the RPS research team and Felicity. We also had the opportunity to speak with other pharmacists who had won grants and were embarking on their research journeys. Hearing from them was truly inspirational.

Following the workshop, the RPS research team have continued to provide an amazing amount of support. It took me four months to build my application for the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit competition. I put everything into practice that I learnt during the workshop and I am pleased to report that I have been successful at stage one of the competition. I am continuing to utilise the knowledge and skills from the workshop to build my stage two application (outcome due early 2018).

If you are struggling to get started with your research grant funding application then book onto our two day Research Proposal Writing workshop, led by expert Professor Felicity Smith of UCL School of Pharmacy.

 

Pre reg revision course – my experience

Michelle, previous pre reg revision course attendee

by Michelle Clothier, Relief Pharmacist – Boots

When I first saw the advertisement for the RPS pre reg revision course event I was in two minds whether to go along. Half of me thought about the price and that it was far for me to travel, and the other half told me that it would be a good idea to go just to see how the exam would be laid out and get an experience of a pre-registration exam. Then a mock day came up in the city of Newcastle (close to my home) and I just knew that I had to go.

Day 1

I was really nervous the first day, particularly because I didn’t know many people there and partly because I knew my calculations were weak and I didn’t want people to notice my weakness. However, after the first day I quickly realised that I was not the only person worried about calculations and it gave me a glimmer of hope.

I arrived early and everyone was in good spirits, the check in process was quick and simple and I got my name badge and entered the hall. I sat on a table with only one other person I knew and we started working through the workbook provided. We were given the GPhC framework for the exam and lots of important learning materials including a list of the high risk drugs and everything you could ever need to know about them. Lunch was provided on both days (which was lovely and catered for everyone), and tea and coffee was flowing for everyone throughout the day. The main thing I learned on the first day was how to go about a number of calculations and I used the method I had written down to practice everyday until the exam. This is why the first day is so good! Methods are explained in detail and you are given time to write everything down so that you can use all of your notes for revision!

Day 2

This was the actual mock exam. I was tired (you don’t sleep much before the actual exam so this was perfect) and I was nervous despite it being a mock. It was clearly explained how the day was going to run and it was actually a perfect representation of how the actual exam did run. I didn’t pass the exam, but it gave me hope because I was quite close to the pass mark of 70%. As we marked our own paper I made a list of the points of which I got wrong so I could start to build my revision around them. You didn’t have to tell anyone the mark you achieved unless you wanted to.

Building up to the (real) assessment

After those two days, I used the framework given by the RPS and the points I had made to really start revising, and, despite failing the mock I passed the real thing!

I would highly recommend this mock to all pre-registration pharmacists. It is well worth the money because it is the foundation required to begin revision, it is an opportunity to mingle with other pre-regs who are all feeling as nervous as you are and you make new friends – all of who will be there with you and for you in your career in pharmacy. Don’t forget, no question is a stupid question – it is guaranteed that someone else in that room is wondering the same thing as you are.

The professionals from the RPS are there to share their knowledge and experience, ask your questions and learn as much as you can, take the resources and pass your exam. It sounds simple and perhaps cliche, but you get out what you put in and the RPS mock exam is the perfect opportunity to put in effort and get out knowledge and experience.

Honestly well worth it!

Visit the pre-reg revision courses events page to book your place today.

 

 

Grant application success!

Kristina Medlinskiene, previous course attendee

Writing a grant application for the first time is not easy to say the least (or maybe it never gets easy). I recall my very early start on this endeavour with very rough knowledge of what it may entail. The RPS two-day research proposal workshop gave me clarity but it also raised many more questions about issues I hadn’t even thought about!

Patient public involvement group? Advisory group? Before the workshop I had not thought about forming these groups or had any idea how to do it. Methodology? Theoretical framework? Detailed costs of the project? Just a few things that I needed to find answers to.

The format of the two days stimulated thinking about your project and the grant application. Most importantly it gave me a direction, a sense of ‘right, this is clearer now’. By the end of the two days I had a preliminary action plan with identified crucial tasks that I needed to address first.

The two days consisted of presentations and workshops covering various topics from how to build a case for the funding application, to the data processing and analysis. Whilst some topics were covered briefly, I read more about it in the book provided and referred back to it for some quick pointers.

Personally, the biggest benefit of attending the two-day workshop alongside the workshops was networking. You not only get a chance to meet and hear experiences of pharmacists who have gone through the process but also ask them for advice later when you are writing your application and get stuck! They were incredibly helpful.

As I have learnt writing a grant application requires a lot of commitment, persistence and some sleepless nights. Get all the help you can, even if it means pushing barriers of your confidence!

If you don’t know how to start writing an application, these workshops could be what you need. They helped me with my application writing.

The RPS will be running a research proposal writing workshop on the 6-7th March 2018. See our events page for more information and to book your place. This course has very limited numbers so please don’t hesitate and secure yours now. We want to ensure you get the grant funding you deserve by writing a successful grant application.

Community pharmacy: a gateway to health

by  Gill Hawksworth MBE, FRPharmsS and RPS Faculty Fellow

I have been trying to keep track of a gradual change in attitudes about pharmacy and public health and now,18 months on from when the Murray Review was commissioned, find myself asking ‘What does it all mean?’.

In September 2017, several key announcements began with the new Pharmacy Minister Steve Brine who said at the RPS conference that initiatives such as the work of (HLP) and flu vaccination services highlight pharmacy’s role in promoting public health and reducing health inequalities. Also at the Labour party conference, the Pharmacy APPG Chair  and Labour MP for Rother Valley, Kevin Barron, said they would like to see the HLP initiative included in the community pharmacy contract as it has a ‘role to play in improving public health’. This was encouraging, so the message must be getting through somehow to those who could influence change and this is backed up by the news that the Public Health England (PHE) report ‘Pharmacy: A Way Forward for Public Health’ has been published.

This new report sets out opportunities for commissioners, some of whom have previously decommissioned such services, to realise community pharmacy’s role in protecting and improving the nation’s health, flagging up growth in the HLP programmes since a quality payment is now available for attaining HLP1 status. The CPPE are supporting this with leadership for HLP workshops and the paper also looks at developing capacity in the workforce to support promoting health through pharmacy settings and lists smoking cessation among the menu of opportunities for community pharmacists to get involved, timely for the PHE Stoptober challenge.

PHE is working with the Pharmacy and Public Health Forum to collect case studies of promising practice to help identify opportunities to build on current learning and scale what is working and has been shown to have impact.  Interestingly there is already a move in Scotland (the vision of Achieving Excellence in Pharmaceutical Care) to expand the public health role with evidenced-based interventions, so pharmacy is at the heart of delivering national health and well-being priorities.

A further focus in September was on support for the role of community pharmacists in antimicrobial stewardship, highlighted in the RPS national campaign, and again during World Antibiotic Awareness Week this week.

There was also an article by Professor David Wright (who’s literature review informed the Murray Review) on the potential for revised Medicines Use Reviews (MURs). We must remember that a range of public health interventions are often part of an MUR. This can include looking after the mental health and wellbeing, as well as physical health, of elderly patients who may be lonely, supported by CPPE’s work on mental health. This also offers a chance for pharmacists to fulfil other roles such as in cancer awareness and screening referral.

Making every contact count and documenting public health interventions may be a good place to start and help to develop the evidence base, remembering that the Murray Review stated ‘we should note that the evidence for (or against) specific clinical services within the peer-reviewed literature is often relatively sparse’.

All this is developing within the context of RPS working with PHE and NHS England to promote the role of pharmacists in public health, with the support of the RPS Professional Standards for Public Health Practice for Pharmacy.

So as attitudes are gradually changing and funding of public health services are being considered in terms of the evidence available, I await, with interest, the public consultation I understand is coming soon on the work by NICE on community pharmacy public health interventions. This deals with the evidence, (RCTs as gold standard) therefore relying on documentation of public health interventions such as alcohol, sexual health and of course smoking. After all, community pharmacists I believe have a good track record in helping people stop smoking.

Pharmagraphics

By Briony Hudson, Pharmacy historian, curator and lecturer

What do mandrake, medicinal treacle and the RPS headquarters have in common?

They all feature in Pharmagraphics , a new online “digital story” from the Wellcome Collection that explores the relationship between pharmacy and design across time.

I started work on the project with Julia Nurse, Wellcome Library’s Collections Researcher, earlier this year to produce six “chapters” that looked at different aspects of pharmacy history and how graphics, design and imagery played their part.  The aim was to link with the Wellcome Collection’s current exhibition ‘Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?’, and to draw on the fantastic collection of images both within Wellcome’s own collection and elsewhere including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum . Read more Pharmagraphics

Biologics and biosimilars – what are they?

By Jayne Lawrence, Head of Division of Pharmacy and Optometry, University of Manchester.

The Commissioning Framework for Biological Medicines announced recently by NHS England will both help guide improvements to developing better medicines for patients and provide a guide to ensuring the NHS gets best value for money from these innovative, exciting medicines.

What is a biologic?
Biological medicines have made many new, groundbreaking treatments possible, significantly im-proving the lives of many patients with long term conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, anaemia associated with chronic kidney failure, and types of cancer.

They are extremely expensive, in part due to the complexity of their production. For example, a course of a new immunotherapy drug typically costs more than £100,000 per patient per year. Furthermore, as biologicals currently comprise approximately 50% of all new drug approvals, it is likely that the high cost of new medicines is with us for the foreseeable future. Consequently, any way of reducing the cost of these important medicines is vital. Read more Biologics and biosimilars – what are they?

Integrative medicine approach to treating cancer patients

By Louisa Davies, Senior Clinical Oncology Pharmacist at University College of London Hospital

I love my job! I’ve been a qualified clinical pharmacist for 12 years and am very fortunate to work at the wonderful Macmillan Cancer Centre at University College Hospital in London as a specialist oncology pharmacist. I find it immensely rewarding as every day is an opportunity to support someone along their cancer journey.

I have a personal interest in wellness and the growing use of supplements for health and over the past few years I have seen more and more patients adopting an integrative approach to their cancer care. At UCLH we recorded that around 35% of patients we saw in clinic were taking or wanted to start taking supplements to improve their side effects or boost their immunity whilst on anti cancer therapy. Read more Integrative medicine approach to treating cancer patients

Why is handwashing important?

By Professor Ash Soni, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Every day we carry millions of bacteria, some of which are naturally found on our bodies and some of which are germs that can make us ill or infect others.

Every day we have contact with people who don’t always wash their hands after going to the toilet, or preparing food.

Our survey on handwashing shows 84% of British adults don’t wash their hands for long enough to clean them of bacteria which can cause infections such as upset stomachs or pneumonia, or viruses which can cause colds and flu.

Regular handwashing with soap and water is the single best way to protect yourself and others from infections. The recommended time to spend washing your hands is 20 seconds, as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ twice. Read more Why is handwashing important?