I would like to express my opinion — which I’m sure many other pharmacists in my situation will share — about the lack of a career break category within the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) membership/registration structure.
I took the decision to take a career break starting from April 2017 to pursue fertility treatment and focus on my dream of becoming a parent. I am currently undergoing my fifth IVF cycle — this is my second cycle within the career break. The first one, in 2012, led to our son, who was stillborn. This was followed by a natural pregnancy, which ended at around eight weeks, and a further three cycles, the last of which resulted in a chemical pregnancy, bringing me to the present treatment.
Obviously, my reasons for taking the break are clear — I am prioritising having a family over my career at the moment because I will regret it if I do not make this sacrifice, which I see as necessary for me, to give my husband and I the best chance of bringing home a healthy baby.
I am, therefore, disappointed with the GPhC for not recognising that members may take a break away from their career for such important reasons. I would like them to follow other pharmacy bodies, such as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Pharmacists’ Defence Association, both of whom offer a career break membership category, meaning they can offer membership status at a reduced fee and they acknowledge that those on a career break will likely have no income.
I am happy to stay on the GPhC register during my time away as it is easier, in the long run, than having to re-register later, but I would appreciate the creation of a reduced fee and perhaps some annotation next to my name on the register to denote that I am on a career break.
After being on the register and working full-time for more than ten years, it feels rather unfair that there is no recognition of this when members choose to take some time out for personal reasons.
Walsall, West Midlands
We recognise that many of our registrants will want to take a career break at some stage in their career, including for the important reasons highlighted in your letter. We understand why people would like us to have a non-practising register, at a reduced fee, but we do not have the legal powers to do this. If someone does not intend to practise in the next 12 months in Great Britain, they should voluntarily remove themselves from the register. We try to make the process of re-joining the register later on as straightforward as possible, while making sure they can safely return to practice. For career breaks of less than 12 months, we have a revalidation exceptional circumstances request process (built into myGPhC), so that people can request an extension to submit their records and/or a reduction in the number of records to be submitted. We are producing some further guidance on this process to help people to do this.
— Mark Voce, director of education, General Pharmaceutical Council