The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) may struggle to engage its membership, particularly those early in their careers. To find solutions, it is natural to look to the elder statesmen of the profession. However, the next generation of pharmacists are watching this RPS election with a keen eye. Although I have no vote, I hope to see board members elected who will take account of our aspirations and expectations. Undoubtedly, the profession and the Society face mounting challenges and sweeping changes. In response, we need transformational leaders who can embrace this while setting a clear vision for our evolution as a profession.
In terms of personal characteristics and experience, board members must be outward-looking, with a progressive attitude and engaging demeanour. The boards should be composed of experienced members from varied walks of practice, able to provide nuanced understanding of all sectors. In particular, we require strong voices from community pharmacy backgrounds at a time when the sector stands at a crossroads and faces existentially defining challenges. There are ever-growing numbers of GP surgery pharmacists, whose interests require representation, too. At a time of funding cuts and rapid advancements in technology, pharmacy cannot afford to be held back by in-fighting and disrespect for one another. Candidates should be motivated to run for altruistic reasons, seeking to progress practice by lending their skills, experience and expertise. They should be astute and eloquent in championing of our aspirations and fighting our corner.
Contemporary leaders must be willing to recognise and support the leaders of the future. I am pleased to see candidates running who have made time for all members, whether they are first year students or Fellows of the Society. As the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association’s secretary general, I wrote ‘Aspirations and expectations of pharmacy students’. This document gives an emphatic overview of what students want from their profession, with 17 key points. The election candidates should make firm pledges to deliver on these. If they cannot commit to this, they should be unsurprised if the Society is met with apathy by those same students when they join the register in a few short years.
My generation will eventually carry forward the work of the current board members. For our sake, we hope those elected will leave a positive legacy which reflects our best interests and fulfils our aspirations and expectations.
Secretary general of the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association, 2016–2018
MPharm student, Sunderland School of Pharmacy