A reflection on RPS members’ priorities as pharmacists

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) represents its members in setting priorities on political and educational policies around public health, with a focus on pharmacy and science. It also has an important role in the advancement of science and the skills pharmacy teams require in order to provide the best service possible to patients.

The RPS is governed by an elected Assembly and it is constantly seeking ways to open communication channels for its members to express their views and contribute to the way priorities are set. The doors of the RPS are always open to members who wish to become engaged, but even those members who are not actively participating in agenda setting contribute to our knowledge about what matters most to them, just by consuming the resources and the services we provide. The collective behaviour of the majority of our silent members and users in consuming information is sometimes an even more powerful source of input than the small proportion of members who are active, express their views and get engaged in debates. This is why we constantly encourage our members to use our digital platform (pharmaceutical-journal.com), since this would enable us to see the trends and priorities of our members, as they happen and not as they are claimed.

To gain an insight into what matters to members most, and what matters the least, we looked at how members of the RPS have been using the content published by Pharmaceutical Journal publications in 2015. We analysed usage of 8,371 articles on pharmaceutical-journal.com, accessed by members in 2015. The data below covers only RPS members’ usage data and does not include the total web usage of our content.

The main topic of 70% of the content consumed by our members in 2015 was science, therapeutic interventions or medicines information (including pharmacologic phenomena), while only 35% of the content we published were focused on these topics.

Content read by RPS members related to the pharmacy career development and career resources was about 11%. In comparison, only 6% of our content was dedicated the pharmacy career articles and resources.

Some 8% of the content consumed by our members was on healthcare and pharmacy policy. Strikingly, 27% of the content we published in 2015 was dedicated to healthcare and pharmacy policy.

Around 7.6% of the content used was about pharmacy education, mainly about preregistration training and assessment. However, only 1.0% of our content in 2015 focused on academia or education and training of pharmacists.

A total of 0.9% of the content used was about technology and information management, and 1.0% of the articles published carried this subject. Finally, 0.8% of the content used was about the pharmaceutical industry, with 1.8% of the content published on this subject.

This shows us that what matters most to our members is professional development. They want to know more, so they can be better pharmacists and be well equipped for the evolving role of pharmacists in UK healthcare. RPS members care about solving problems for their patients and care less about themselves. Members are also seeking advice about how to progress in their career path. This makes the support role of RPS important, and we should focus more on finding ways to help our members with their individual careers, be it with high quality resources, both in clinical areas and in professional practice matters, or with workshops, seminars and face-to-face support.

We can see that changes to the healthcare policy is not as much a priority for our members, although they would like to keep an eye on it. This raises a question for us to find out whether the pace of change in policy with regard to pharmacy is too slow to create engagement for our members or perhaps they trust the governments and professional bodies to find the solution to big healthcare issues.

To find out more about what matters to our members, we started looking at the most read articles, published in 2015.

18 of the top 20 most read articles in 2015 where clinical CPD and learning articles.


 ArticleTopicNumber of times read by RPS membersNumber of times read by all users
1 Diuretic therapy explainedClinical: Renal2,63819,167
2 Asthma: long-term managementClinical: Respiratory 2,5976,069
3 Hypertension: management
Clinical: Cardiovascular2,58415,738
4 Constipation: managing the condition in adultsClinical: GI tract2,34511,178
5 Hypertension: pathophysiology and diagnosisClinical: Cardiovascular2,33718,714
6 Iron deficiency anaemia: basic managementClinical: Haematology2,24713,156
7 Asthma: pathophysiology, causes and diagnosisClinical: Respiratory 2,12814,344
8 Heart failure: clinical features and diagnosisClinical: Cardiovascular1,6914,135
9 How fruit juice interacts with common medicinesPharmacologic phenomena1,69014,084
10 Electrolytes in cardiologyClinical: Cardiovascular1,68821,576
11 Thyroid dysfunction and drug interactionsClinical: Endocrine system1,5488,448
12 Stroke: latest treatment options in acute managementClinical: Nervous system1,5207,263
13 Driving after taking drugs and medicinesRegulations1,5044,100
14 How to ensure you do well at a hospital preregistration placement interviewCareer development1,4796,596
15 Acute and long-term management of bipolar disorderClinical: Mental health1,4493,512
16 Heart failure: managementClinical: Cardiovascular1,4403,690
17 Liver impairment: ensuring medicines safetyClinical: Liver1,4248,649
18 Acne vulgarisClinical: Skin1,3766,134
19 Urinary tract infection: management in elderly patientsClinical: Urinary tract1,37312,167
20 GPhC publishes exam questions for the first timeEducation: Preregistration assessment1,3657,723

The first career development article was number 26 ‘How to write a successful pharmacy CV’, which was read 1,071 times by RPS members, but 49,266 times by all users (members and non-members). The first education article (‘How do we ensure pharmacists have the skills they need for their expanding role?’) was read 773 times by RPS members and 2,776 times by all users, appearing as the 50th most read story. 

The first policy story (‘What closer ties with GP practices will mean for pharmacists’), appearing at number 84, was read 579 times by RPS members and 2,445 times by all users.

This information tallies in with the member survey results we carried out in April 2015, where members told us which topics in The Pharmaceutical Journal they most valued: medical conditions and treatment (32%), medicines information (22%), pharmaceutical sciences (11.7%) and healthcare policy (11.5%)

We are monitoring this usage data closely and it is consistently telling us that our members care most about clinical and scientific knowledge. We feed back this information regularly to the RPS assembly and national boards, so they can adapt priorities based on members’ behaviour towards our resources. We will also adapt our editorial plans in 2016 to focus more on what matters most to our members, who are telling us they want even more clinical and science articles, and less policy. The relaunch of Clinical Pharmacist in January 2016 as an authoritative source for reporting of clinical and scientific research is just one of the steps we are taking to comply with our readers’ needs.



Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, A reflection on RPS members' priorities as pharmacists;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20200307

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