This week, the chief pharmaceutical officer’s (CPhO) clinical fellows — Naveen, Stephen and Emma — open the doors to their fellowships at the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE), Health Education England (HEE) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and encourage anyone interested in the fellowship scheme to apply.
“There is freedom to shape your fellowship in ways that advantage you. It is a risk worth taking and an opportunity not to be missed.”
Naveen Dosanjh — CPPE
My background and passion is in mental health and my host organisation is CPPE, which I selected because of my interest in developing a pharmacy workforce whose skills and abilities are optimised within the dynamic world of healthcare.
I was also encouraged by a highly respected colleague, a previous fellow from the medical stream of the programme, to consider applying.
Since starting our fellowships we have all been encouraged to seek opportunities to develop our leadership and management skills. For instance, I spend time shadowing the CPPE director and meet with external senior leaders, who have all been welcoming and keen to offer coaching and support. I visit other healthcare organisations to widen my understanding of the system in which we work, and then share this learning with my CPPE colleagues. I also have a project to deliver for the organisation: developing and implementing a strategy for revalidation, involving the expertise within CPPE and collaboration with external organisations such as the General Pharmaceutical Council.
These are difficult times in the NHS; I feel privileged to be in a position where I can observe how clinical leaders are balancing realpolitik with strategy, while trying hard to improve quality and outcomes. I have been reflecting on what tools good leaders in healthcare are using to be successful and how I can incorporate such methods into my own practice.
There are not many periods in one’s career where you can step away from usual practice to observe the most senior leaders in their field, gain an understanding of the ‘bigger picture’, develop leadership skills via experiential learning, and possibly influence significant decisions on a national scale, while advocating for those on the frontline.
Stephen Doherty — HEE
My fellowship is with HEE, based in Manchester and working with the pharmacy dean for the north; however, much of my work is done nationally working with the wider HEE teams, as well as other organisations such as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
I first became aware of the CPhO clinical fellow scheme when an email was circulated by my chief pharmacist. Initially I read the email and thought it looked really interesting but felt that it probably wasn’t for me. It was very different to anything I had done in the past. I was concerned that I didn’t have the right amount or type of experience and that the post was too high profile.
However, I found myself thinking about it over and over again, thinking about the unique opportunities it would provide, the skills I might develop, the people I might meet and also the chance to put my years in hospital pharmacy practice to use in a different arena. With encouragement from friends and colleagues I decided to apply.
Much like my pre-registration year, I’ve found starting the fellowship quite daunting. The legacy of those who have gone before is huge. On a daily basis we are meeting and interacting with the most senior decision and policymakers in the profession and across the NHS. However, these interactions have been such positive experiences. It is perfectly clear to see that at the most senior levels of the NHS there is a firm belief that leadership is everyone’s business and that the next generation of leaders are worth investing in now.
Emma McClay — NICE
For my fellowship year, I’m based at NICE. I work nationally, with my time split between London and Manchester, and I spend some time working from home.
I’m grateful to a particularly encouraging colleague for recommending the CPhO scheme after a chance encounter he had with the previous year’s bright and enthusiastic fellows. Like any pharmacist worth one’s salt, I diligently researched the scheme, but was slightly concerned to find less tangibility and structure than the training and development to which I had previously been accustomed and comforted by. (As a typical risk-averse pharmacist!) Even though somewhat mysterious, the scheme seemed so unique and career-enriching that I was convinced to leave my secure and comfortable senior pharmacist post and take a leap of faith!
Among other work streams at NICE, I’m working on a particular project to empower patients to participate actively with their healthcare choices through shared decision-making in clinical practice. This involves a range of considerations; from researching behavioural sciences (why people make the decisions they do) to the practical implications of using patient decision aids and tools in practice.
To contextualise this whirlwind experience, I’m reminded of my pre-registration year. The gradient of the learning curve is steeper here, and learning about enzyme inhibitors and inducers is replaced by learning about system leadership in healthcare and how national healthcare organisations develop their priorities.
As rewarding as clinical practice can be, the persistent fast pace and workload pressure can risk overwhelming the bright-eyed enthusiasm for patient care and quality improvement. The fellowship has taught me the importance of stepping off the rat run and contemplating the ‘whats’, ‘whys’ and ‘hows’.
Applications for the 2018-2019 intake of the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s Clinical Fellow Scheme open on the 6th of March 2018.
More information about the scheme can be found here.