Why all practising pharmacists should be involved in research

davidmcrae150x150By David McRae, Clinical Trials Pharmacist, Cwm Taf University Health Board, Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil

When I was asked to blog about pharmacy practice research and evaluation here in Wales, I gleefully seized upon the opportunity. It was a certain type of glee – the type of happiness you experience when you turn over an exam paper to find a twenty mark question on the topic you revised only last night. The recent RPS Annual Conference has focused many of our minds on research and why it is so necessary. The address by the GPhC, in particular, made me realise that there is a new challenge facing us.

In this time of unprecedented financial austerity, commissioners are starting to move to an outcome based commissioning model. For us, this could mean that we will be required to show how our services are providing patient orientated outcomes – are the public living longer or better by accessing our services – rather than using activity (number of MURs or interventions) as evidence that our services our worthwhile.

For those of you who have tried or have thought about gathering this type of evidence you will know that it is not easy. If we are going to provide evidence that our services improve patient outcomes, then we need to use, or at the very least, have an understanding of research methodologies.

So, while you may think research is mainly for academics or those with an academic bent and not the majority of grass roots pharmacists working in hospitals and community pharmacies, the fact is that no one understands the practical issues around the supply and use of medicines better than practicing pharmacists. It is because of this that we are also the best placed to undertake research on medicines use.

If you have a project in mind but don’t know where to start or simply wish to find out more about research and what it involves, then why not attend a local practice forum event, like the Research & Evaluation Evening in Cardiff on 24th September? An event like this will provide you with an opportunity to find out what research and evaluation is going on in your local area and to network and collaborate with other pharmacists interested in research and evaluation.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Pharmaceutical Science and Research Network is another source of information and support.