The past, current and future problems of pharmacy as a profession

After graduating with an MPharm in 2019 from University College London, I started my training at a community pharmacy giant, where I gained experience in dispensing pharmaceuticals which makes up a large part of the pharmacy workforce. I have since experienced firsthand the challenges that “junior” pharmacy professionals face in today’s workforce.

I was recently named The Pharmaceutical Journal‘s “Woman to Watch 2022” and am passionate about supporting and mentoring other young professionals to achieve their full potential. My letter demonstrates my unconventional career route as a portfolio pharmacist working across community pharmacy, general practice and academia, and my passion to support the future of pharmacy through digital innovation, leadership and empowering the next generation of pharmacists.

Shortly after starting my training, the COVID-19 pandemic was announced. After stepping up my role as a provisional pharmacist and taking on clinical and legal responsibilities which match that of a fully qualified pharmacist, I found a big disparity between my ambitions and the functioning role of pharmacists in my area. The imminent reality is that pharmacy, like many other professions, is constantly evolving, and there is always something new to learn or a new skill to develop.

The concept of a “newly qualified pharmacist” and “preregistration pharmacist”, therefore, is problematic because it implies a finite window in which pharmacists are considered “new or inexperienced”, which can hinder our ability to thrive in our careers and make meaningful contributions to the profession. Furthermore, these labels perpetuate the idea that there is a point at which a pharmacist is fully trained and in practice imposes assumptions on the knowledge that pharmacists have post qualification. This mindset fails to recognise the valuable contributions that pharmacy professionals (at any stage) can make to the field. I ask my readers to focus on the individual and provide opportunities to expand on experience and provide better integration of university graduates into experienced teams. By doing so, we create opportunities for collaboration and professional development and create a more diverse, inclusive and dynamic pharmacy workforce.

I am hopeful about the future of pharmacy and the role that all pharmacy professionals can play in shaping it. I believe that the future of pharmacy lies in innovation, digital health and empowering professionals to take on leadership roles within the profession. This also includes a plan to retain pharmacy graduates through mentorship and encouraging school leavers to pursue pharmacy as a subject.

Sorbi Khattak, English Pharmacy Board candidate

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2023, Vol 310, No 7973;310(7973)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.185006

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