by Jodie Williamson, Pharmacist and Professional Development and Engagement Lead at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales.
As a pharmacist working for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, I have the privilege of meeting the bright young leaders of the future. I have just returned from the annual conference of the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) in Nottingham and was blown away by their enthusiasm for pharmacy and their ideas for the future.
An exciting time to be starting out
It’s hardly surprising that they’re so enthusiastic. It really is an exciting time to be starting out on a career in pharmacy. There are more opportunities for pharmacists than ever before. Couple that with the fact that the Welsh Government have just announced further investment to increase the number of training places for preregistration pharmacists in Wales and it’s clear to see why they’re so passionate about their future.
In the 10 years since I qualified new roles for pharmacists have been developed which have really taken the profession forward. We now have pharmacists working in NHS111, in GP Practices and in Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments making us an integral part of healthcare on the front line.
Pharmacists working in the community can now offer more services than ever before and are often the first port of call for non-emergency healthcare needs. The Common Ailments Service in Wales means that patients can access free treatment for a wide range of common conditions such as hay fever, backache and athletes foot from their local pharmacist without having to make an appointment with the GP.
No longer hidden away
In our hospitals pharmacists no longer spend their time hidden away in the pharmacy department. They are a key part of the multidisciplinary team providing medicines advice and expertise on the wards. Pharmacists also work within sterile units in the hospital to produce chemotherapy and nutrition products that are made to meet specific patients’ needs. In the A&E department pharmacists see patients that have come in with medicines-related emergencies but also provide medicines advice to other healthcare professionals within the department.
Perhaps the area which has seen the most change is GP practice. When I first qualified, having a pharmacist working within a GP practice was unheard of. Now, many GP practices have pharmacists and other healthcare practitioners working as part of the multidisciplinary team. Pharmacists are now the go-to professional within the practice for patients who have issues relating to their medicines. They carry out routine medication reviews and often manage patients with long term conditions such as high blood pressure or asthma.
The next generation
Looking to the future who knows where pharmacy can go! Advances in technology mean that we are seeing new types of medicines such as we’ve never seen before and with that comes new opportunities for pharmacists. And that’s why I love being able to engage with pharmacy students. They are keen and passionate about the future ahead of them. They are ready to grasp those opportunities and drive pharmacy forward. They remind me why I went into this profession in the first place and challenge me to think about things in new ways. But most of all, it fills me with pride to see that the future for pharmacy is in safe hands!