I have been keen to engage with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) Faculty accreditation process but have been struggling to fit it into my hectic professional and personal life. Within my hospital trust, the pharmacists have been talking about how to start portfolio development. For those who know the “wheel of change”, we were all very much in the “pre-contemplation” phase. I had signed up for access to the Faculty and was then daunted by the need to develop a portfolio. This was not because of a lack of potential material to build the portfolio, but more down to fear that the portfolio would not be a true representation of my practice.
Having attended a number of RPS webinars and UK Clinical Pharmacy Association faculty development sessions, I realised that my faculty portfolio development needed to reflect my own practice. Breaking the portfolio down into manageable chunks would make the task seem less of a mountain to climb. Since then I have been progressing nicely with identifying evidence to include in the portfolio.
When it comes to my portfolio development, I have been struggling to write up evidence of my clinical day-to-day activities, in particular my prescribing activity. It is easy to reference a guideline you have helped develop or an audit that you have completed, but the challenge is to express the complexity of the direct patient care you are providing in an anonymised piece of evidence.
Thinking back, I remember when I registered as a prescriber and found it challenging to find suitable continuing professional development to support my new extended role. I now find that my prescribing activity is often a rich source of areas for development. I find it easy to identify gaps in knowledge or skills and put in place a plan to improve. This maybe something as simple as understanding the place a new drug has in practice, right through to how to improve my consultation skills.
The RPS guide for portfolio development suggests “gathering documentation from queries, interventions or problems you have resolved”. So I have been keeping a diary of interesting patients who I have prescribed medicines for. This will allow me to demonstrate the different types of clinical activities I perform and pivotal to this is my prescribing practice. The development of my portfolio has revealed that my direct patient care, facilitated by prescribing, is probably the area of my practice that best highlights my skills and knowledge.
On reflection, this hands-on delivery of patient care linked with wider strategic use of my professional expertise is probably where I need to focus my attention to ensure I submit a portfolio that truly demonstrates my abilities as a pharmacist.
David Gibson, MSc, MRPharmS, is lead clinical pharmacist at Darlington Memorial Hospital, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.