Pride: professional is personal

by Gareth Kitson, RPS Professional Development and Engagement Lead

Like everyone, my professional identity is informed by my personal life. Achieving that identity has at times been a struggle and is always a work in progress. It’s something I have learned to take pride in.

As I have progressed through my career, I’ve realised that identifying as a gay man is a bigger part of my identity than I once thought. 

Speaking up

I have had countless conversations with colleagues about what it is like to be a gay man living in London. I’ve spoken about how I have faced prejudice and discrimination because of my sexual identity.  I have highlighted the changes in sexual health provision and how HIV is no longer associated with the falling tombstone of the 1980s. I’ve updated people on how PrEP is transforming the prevention agenda for men who have sex with men.

Being a pharmacist is a huge part of my identity and my sexual identity is too. It often intertwines with other aspects of my personality, including my professional life.  If I feel accepted and safe in my working environment, I’m more creative, better engaged and form stronger working relationships.

Pride

This is why I’m really proud that the RPS is walking in the Pride in London Parade in 2019. 

This is the first time we’ve done something like this.  I’m proud that my professional body recognises both my professional and personal identity. Members of staff and members of RPS will be walking in the Parade on July 6th – if you see us, give us a wave! #wearepharmacy.

Why Pride matters


By Gareth Kitson, RPS Professional Development and Engagement Lead

I had known for a long time that I was gay but had never had to acknowledge it. I never engaged with the LGBT+ community at Uni as I had a ready-made group of friends. I wasn’t confident enough to engage with members of the community as I felt I had to behave in a certain way.  After moving to London I was pushed into the one of the most vibrant and diverse communities in the world and wasn’t ready for the effect it would have on me.

Fitting in

Every aspect of the LGBT+ community had “tribes” or “communities” and I really struggled to find my place.  I also found it really hard to make friends outside of a dating environment.  Most gay men will tell you the same story – insecurity, isolation and the struggle to “fit in”. 

In July 2012 I was out shopping on Oxford Street and accidentally stumbled on the Pride in London Parade.  I felt overwhelmed, curious and confused as to what was happening.  I stopped and watched the entire Parade pass by and spent the rest of the day reflecting on what I had just seen.

Not alone

For the first time, I suddenly felt that I wasn’t alone.  I suddenly realised that there were other people living in the same city as me who identified as a member of the LGBT+ community.  There were opportunities to meet people who may have gone through the same experiences as you, be it coming to terms with your own identity or coming out to your family and friends. 

This one day showed me that people from all backgrounds can stand next to each other and be proud of who they are.  That families can gather and show their children that it is OK for a man to love a man and that some of their friends may have two mummies instead of a mummy and a daddy. 

It was heart-warming, confidence-boosting and empowering when I finally realised that I wasn’t alone.  That I could live my life as I wanted, being true to who I really was, in the city I now called home. That’s why Pride matters.

Members of staff and members of the RPS will be walking in the Parade on 6th July. If you see us, give us a wave #wearepharmacy.

Salbutamol – landmark asthma treatment

by John Betts, Keeper of the RPS Museum

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark asthma treatment Salbutamol becoming commercially available in the UK. Salbutamol is still widely used today to relieve symptoms of asthma and COPD such as coughing, wheezing and feeling breathless. It works by relaxing the muscles of the airways into the lungs, making it easier to breathe.

Launched in 1969 with the brand name Ventolin, Salbutamol revolutionised the treatment of bronchial asthma.

It treated bronchospasm far more effectively compared with previous bronchodilators and had fewer side effects.

To understand how much of a breakthrough Salbutamol was in the treatment of asthma, it’s first worth comparing it to the drugs that were used to treat asthma before 1969.

One of the main drugs used for treating asthma in the mid-1960s was isoprenaline. This is a powerful bronchodilator and was used to relieve bronchospasm. However, the side effects include a sudden increased heart rate. Between 1963 and 1968 in the UK there was an increase in deaths among people using isoprenaline to treat asthma. This was attributed to overdose due to both excessive use of the aerosols and the high dosage they dispensed.

In the mid-1960s the mortality rate for asthma sufferers had risen to over 2,000 deaths a year. An effective bronchodilator was desperately needed that did not stimulate the heart or affect blood pressure.

Salbutamol was discovered in 1966 by a research team at Allen and Hanburys (a subsidiary of Glaxo). Salbutamol was the first drug that selectively targeted specific receptors in the lungs, inhibiting the production of proteins needed to produce muscle contractions. It works by relaxing the smooth muscle of the airways, opening them up and so lessening or preventing an asthma attack. Not only was Salbutamol a good bronchodilator, it lasted longer than isoprenaline, and inhalation caused fewer side effects.

In addition to the effectiveness of the drug, the method of administration itself was also revolutionary. The Ventolin inhaler was designed to ensure metered aerosol doses of Salbutamol were inhaled straight into the patient’s lungs.

The drug was an instant success.

The only real deficiency of Salbutamol was its short duration of action; at 4 hours it couldn’t prevent night-time asthma attacks. In response to this the pharmaceutical manufacturer Glaxo aimed to develop a longer acting drug. The result of their research was Salmeterol. Launched in 1990 with the brand name Serevent, it had a 12-hour duration of action.

50 years on Salbutamol is still on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines; a testament to the major role it continues to play in the treatment of asthma. 

Visit the RPS Museum Mon-Fri 9am-5pm

Every day is a school day for Chris

By Chris Maguire, pharmacist and marketing manager at Beckton Dickinson

I studied pharmacy at Queens University, Belfast.

I completed my pre-reg in community pharmacy, in a small chain, in the same town I went to school. Once I had finished, I did a few locums for the same company and was offered a relief position. I had friends in England who told me about the offers they’ve been receiving. I was tempted…and made the move to the “mainland”. I applied for few jobs and got one with Lloyds pharmacy, living in Liverpool. I moved from relief manager, to pharmacy manager to cluster manager. I was really enjoying work and career progression, but I had always wanted to travel so I took a career break for a year and travelled.
I even got to work in a hospital in Sydney for 6 months of my 14 months adventure.

When I came home, I got a job at Interface Clinical Services, working in primary care. Delivering services such as osteoporosis, diabetes and asthma reviews. Again, I started making my way up – from service development, to a national lead pharmacist.

I managed a team of 90 pharmacists running reviews, clinics, hospital work and made sure they were trained.  I had always been focused on delivering care based on NICE guidance or the latest evidence in disease areas.
I think that with more responsibility, pharmacists can help make a change on a bigger scale.

In my roles in primary care, I learned how clinical systems work in GP land, how the mechanics of QOF work.  I strongly believe that with up-skilling pharmacists to be experts in specific disease areas and pharmacy integration we can create better primary care services. 

I’d been working on a diabetes service specifically for quite a while and think there is so much more pharmacists could do.  It was because of my experience in primary care that I was approached by industry to join as a project manager and help to deliver value based health care. A concept where value is the outcome for the patient over the cost. I thought this was an amazing opportunity to help on a bigger scale and to gain experience in industry.

I had been approached by industry before with an MSL opportunity. I looked into their portfolio, their evidence, the guidelines and felt that it wasn’t a good fit and I couldn’t hang my pharmacist hat on that. So, I stayed with Interface for another 2 years, gaining more experience and exposure working with federations, CCGs, hospitals, AHSNs, NICE and others. It’s not always how fast you can get to the new job but going for the right job.

After working for a year as a project manager, I applied for a marketing manager job. I didn’t have any experience in marketing, but I do understand how the NHS and the supply chain works.  I understand how the use of data can help improve outcomes, which helped me get the job! I’ve now also enrolled on a course to become CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) certified at diploma/degree level to make sure I have all the basics and grounding needed.

Every day is a school day! 

Find out more about how to get a job in pharmaceutical industry

Peer Discussion day has arrived

The moment has arrived.  RX and I are sitting opposite one another in the Bell Room at RPS HQ.  Messrs Squire and Hills, grandees from pharmacy history looking down at us from the wall and behind us the artefacts of the museum (I’m hoping there isn’t a thumbscrew in the museum and that this is going to be a free flowing discussion).

Read more Peer Discussion day has arrived

How Pharmaceutical Journal Publications are helping you meet your planned and unplanned learning requirements for revalidation

Michael Dowdall – Executive Editor, Research & Learning


April 2019 marked a year since the launch of the RPS MyCPD app, which contains content from The Pharmaceutical Journal and Clinical Pharmacist. Its aim is to meet the needs of members and pharmacy professionals undergoing revalidation. And it seems to be doing just that – in quarter one 2019, around 1,000 users were accessing content through the RPS MyCPD app every month, completing over 1,400 records of their learning and CPD activities. With updates scheduled over the coming months, the additional revalidation requirements for peer discussion and reflective accounts, as well as over 330 articles from Pharmaceutical Journal Publications now available, this number is certain to grow.

Read more How Pharmaceutical Journal Publications are helping you meet your planned and unplanned learning requirements for revalidation

Improving antibiotic resistance in Ghana

Contributors from Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Ghana: Dr Daniel Ankrah, Mark Harrison, Tony Osei, Priscilla Ekpale, Julia Selby, Jennifer Laryea, Asiwome Aggor, Frempomaa Nelson, Helena Owusu, Grace Aboagye and Agnetta Ampomah

The Commonwealth Partnerships for Antimicrobial Stewardship (CwPAMS) educates, trains and supports overseas health workers to tackle the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance. Partnerships are running in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, with the support of UK health workers including pharmacists.

Here, the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Ghana – North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust (NMUH) partnership to explore their motivations and hopes for their project.

Read more Improving antibiotic resistance in Ghana

From community pharmacist to Medical Science Liaison

Sinead Monaghan, Medical Science Liaison, Sanofi

I graduated with a master’s degree in pharmacy from Queen’s University Belfast.I undertook my pre-registration year in a community pharmacy chain in Northern Ireland. I was employed as a pharmacist manager with the same company post pre-registration year. I spent a further four years as a community pharmacist.

I thoroughly enjoyed this role, especially being a pharmacist tutor. This very much sparked my interest in training others. I had always been curious about alternative pharmacist roles, but felt my knowledge of career paths was limited.

Read more From community pharmacist to Medical Science Liaison

Improving care with professional standards

by Suzanne Scott-Thomas, Chair of RPS in Wales

As pharmacists, we need to know that the services we provide are effective, safe, and efficient. This way we can make sure patients are getting the care they need and deserve. We also need to know that the services are continuing to meet the requirements of an ever-changing healthcare environment.

Read more Improving care with professional standards

Routes to industry roles

By Tarquin Bennett – Coles, Principle Consultant at Carmichael Fisher

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The Life science sector is a vibrant and constantly changing environment that can suit those who like to take educated risks with start-up ventures or those who want a more secure long-term career within a large organisation. Getting into the sector is still people/connection based so establishing a network and reliable advocates will help you make the first step. If you can find a person you can interact with rather than using an online portal then this will improve your chances. 

Deciding on the right role and company for you will require some due diligence on the company values and culture. Most of this can be achieved online. Glassdoor is a useful tool to see what people say about a business, good and bad.

Nevertheless, having someone you can talk to who actually works at the company you are interested in is even more useful. If you can use your network to help you achieve this,  then it will give you a head start.  

To make the right step also requires some realistic self-assessment.  

You can use online tools for this or If you can find someone you work with and ask them how you come across in meetings or day to day you can find out a great deal about how you are perceived. It is also worth thinking about what motivates you, what will drive you to get up for work or travel a long way for a meeting? Do you like to work in a group or independently? Even at an early stage it is well worth thinking about where you would like to land after the role you are applying for. Having this in mind will help you weigh up the potential of the position now and as part of your broader career aspirations even if they change. 

Some individuals choose to join the sector via a service organisation then move across to biophama or MedTech businesses once they have their network in place. This includes joining life science teams in the large consulting houses (PwC, E&Y, McKinsey etc), boutique players (Huron, Cambridge Consultants, Sagentia), outsourcing businesses like a Contract or Clinical Research Organisations (CROs – IQVIA, Paraxel, Covance etc) or biopharma sales companies.  
 
Others, choose to start out in a corporate setting via the City (equity analysis), private equity or venture capital businesses and then transition across.  

In addition, the emerging data and digital space means some technology players (Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung etc) are moving into the healthcare sector and they require experts with an understanding of life sciences sector so this may also offer a way in.  
Hot areas of growth also include diagnostics & biomarker businesses, AI/Machine Learning, data science and digital health companies. 

Once you have gained some experience, or if you want to make the step immediately, then there are some key skills and experiences that companies most value. If you can highlight these when you apply or at interview then they will help differentiate you and increase your chances of an offer. 

  • Demonstrable track record of success. 
  • Examples of persuasion and influence whilst working outside your area of management control 
  • The ability to prioritise between the urgent and important. 
  • Expertise at working to tight deadlines and dealing with a fast paced environment for service delivery & communication (this should suit all pharmacists). 
  • Project management skills & the ability to switch focus/direction due rapid market shifts or new convergent technologies. 

Right now certain functions and disciplines are in particularly high demand. These include, analytics, data science, informatics, medical affairs and information, toxicology, pharmacology, business development, clinical development, regulatory affairs, market access and pricing and reimbursement. 

Another thing to consider before you join the industry is to choose a location where there is a cluster of companies and sector support businesses already located there. This will increase the opportunity for you to progress and find alternative work if the position does not work out or the company goes through a major transformation or acquisition. In 2019 we are seeing some major merger and acquisition activity. Most successful clusters (Cambridge, London, Oxford, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Cardiff etc) will also have good transport links, access to funding streams, academic and research hubs, hospitals and service businesses nearby.  

Once you make the step do remember you are likely to be joining a sector where there will be five generations in the workplace (Gen Z – 18yrs old in 2018). Each generation defines success and working habits with a slightly different perspective so it is worth considering that if you are working in a cross-generational team or have a line manager from a different era. 

In terms of what lies ahead you have a myriad of choices once you break into the sector so keep checking in on your own plans. Leadership agility is being highlighted as a future “must have” and so is some international experience so if you can add those to your existing skill set, then you will be in a good place to progress. Similarly, there are now more industry collaborations and partnerships than ever before so involvement in such projects will help you stand out. Good luck, you have an exciting future ahead.  

More information

https://www.rpharms.com/development/how-to-get-a-job-in-the-pharmaceutical-industry