Campaign letter for RPS elections 2021: Omolola Dabiri on an exodus of early careers pharmacists

This is a campaign letter for the 2021 RPS national pharmacy board elections. The views expressed in this letter belong to the author. Find out more about the RPS elections.

In recent years, I have seen and heard of a gradual exodus of early careers pharmacists from the pharmacy profession. In fact, in the past two years, at least ten newly qualified pharmacists who are among personal contacts have left the profession. 

I had the opportunity to speak with some of the ‘abdicators’. “Why were they leaving?” I wanted to know. The storyline was similar.

For some, pharmacy was just a step in their plans into medical/dentistry profession. For others — a larger percentage — they left because they felt disillusioned. A rude awakening in their preregistration year (although they had done placements before) was the line in the ground for some. Suddenly out of the comfort zone of being a student, the sheer reality of the working conditions (for some with no protected break times), politics within pharmacy teams and being thrown to the wash if any errors occurred got too much. 

A small percentage felt discomfited by a seeming lack of respect for the profession, even by other members of the health care team. Some also felt overworked with little or nothing to show for the extra hours and toil. 

They left, convinced of getting better working conditions elsewhere, and most importantly being accorded greater respect in other professions. 

The above captures perhaps a minute part of a bigger picture. I will leave the other reasons to your imagination or experience.

Daily, the face of healthcare delivery in the UK keeps changing.

Gallantly, pharmacy as a profession is rising to the task, with a lot of deliberations — current deliveries, future plans — but who would be the workforce to deliver these plans? Would they be a disillusioned bunch, a burnt out lot or a group with enviable wellbeing — valued, respected and aptly remunerated?

As the profession continues to strategize for a stable, capable, and dynamically relevant future may I refer us to the words of a Shel Silverstein Poem ‘Someone to shine the stars’?

Somebody has to go polish the stars,

They’re looking a little bit dull.

Somebody has to go polish the stars,

For the eagles and starlings and gulls

Have all been complaining they’re tarnished and worn,

They say they want new ones we cannot afford.

So please get your rags

And your polishing jars,

Somebody has to go polish the stars.

I bid us grace and strength,

Omolola (Lola) Dabiri, election candidate, Scottish pharmacy board, Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Last updated
Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, April 2021;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.79310