Ask the RPS : What makes a good community pharmacist?

Hayley Berry, RPS Community Advocate and Community Pharmacist

Through not only my years of experience as a pharmacist but also through a most recent role as RPS Community Advocate, I’ve been able to recognise some of the key skills needed for a career in community.

MUR
It’s important to get accredited to carry out MURs as soon as you qualify as this greatly enhances your role as a community pharmacist. In my experience MURs can hugely benefit your patients as you explore the use of their medicines and also the patients start to relate to you as a healthcare professional; someone that they can come and speak to about any concerns that they have about their healthcare. Over my years as a community pharmacist I feel that I have developed stronger links with the local surgeries and my patients which has been directly related to carrying out MURs and I also feel that for me, my highlight is that I have enjoyed making a difference to patients and supporting them with their care. I have found this one of the most rewarding parts of my role. You can find detailed information and MUR guidance on the PSNC website.

Consultation skills
As a pharmacist it is important that you develop your consultation skills and although you are taught the basics during your time at university it is essential that you develop these skills as you move through your pharmacy career. One thing I have learnt is that consultation skills are not a one stop shop and there is always something that you can improve, for example demonstrating active listening and open body language which can make a difference during your consultation. I think that as a pharmacy graduate you should use time during your preregistration year to develop your skills by learning from peers and observing how other professionals demonstrate these skills. Consider how you will apply these skills in practice. Learn more about consultation skills.

Experience
I would actively encourage you to get as much experience as you can possibly get before you start your preregistration year, whether this be a part time job in your local pharmacy or a placement block at your local hospital – you can never have too much. Whilst I was at university I found the summer work placement helped me massively during my final year as I could relate the course to my own experience. I know competition for placements is high but speak to your local pharmacy to see if they are happy for you to spend a few days with them as work experience. It doesn’t need to be a six week placement a few days is better than nothing.

Service delivery
I have loved offering a variety of services from my community pharmacy; flu jabs, stop smoking, phlebotomy, emergency contraception and chlamydia to name a few. During your preregistration year find out what services are nationally and locally commissioned and find out what you need to do to be able to offer these services. Speak to your tutor and discuss what they are able to offer. Speak to commissioners and investigate what is happening in your local area. Use your preregistration to get ready for when you qualify so that you are service ready and know what is available and how you can offer these beneficial services to your patients.

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