A few months ago, I was privileged to interview 13 community pharmacists about their current and future role. To my dismay, I discovered a significant disconnect between what the pharmacists were doing and where they wanted to be in future.
For example, the majority of pharmacists wanted more public health roles; the ability to independently prescribe; more ability to supply medications such as contraceptives without a prescription; and more services similar to travel clinics. However, the interviewees admitted to spending the majority of their time checking and dispensing prescriptions.
I realised that most pharmacists were not doing much to make the shift towards their future goals, but rather they were waiting. Waiting for the government to change, waiting for the head office to change, waiting for times to change, waiting for someone or something to happen. But, in reality, nothing was happening and I found that most pharmacists were frustrated about the lack of change and majority of them were losing passion for the profession.
However, as a future pharmacist, I still believe there is so much potential for pharmacists to improve people’s quality of lives and reduce the burden on healthcare services. I believe the future ultimately starts with giving back power into the hands of pharmacists.
Pharmacists should have autonomy over the pharmacy they work in, so they are set targets not based on commercial outputs primarily but also based on local needs. This will then allow pharmacists to pilot the services that they want to offer and get them approved. This will also allow pharmacists to focus more on viable services and the roles they enjoy the most; which will reflect in the quality of services. It would reduce the burden on pharmacy representative bodies and the government of creating new services for pharmacists especially services that are compatible with each individual area and each pharmacist. It would also drive pharmacy towards more personalised care which is predicted in future
I imagine a future where pharmacists become the ultimate community healthcare hub; where they run medication clinics rather than dispensaries. I believe dispensing will be and should be automated in future or become a different sector altogether; which will be run by pharmacy technicians because it’s an industrial process with low viability, increases pharmacists’ workload and encourages stagnation of pharmacists’ knowledge and skills. This will then allow pharmacists to develop and utilise their skills in health promotion and consultation services that I believe is the main role of the pharmacist.
Some pharmacists are already running specialist clinics, such as in skin care or Botox injection provision. I believe that in the next 10 to 20 years, most pharmacists should specialise in the services that they offer, like other healthcare professionals. This would help increase job opportunities for pharmacists, increased job satisfaction which will reflect in the quality of services and pharmacists would profit from offering privatised services.
This would ultimately contribute towards restoring pharmacy to the glorious profession that it once was
Margret Naluyima, final year pharmacy student, Kingston University London.
Margret’s piece is the winning entry in the Preregistration Pharmacist and Student category of our 2018 writing competition. Read more entries here.
NHS England. Improving outcomes through personalised medicine. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/improving-outcomes-personalised-medicine.pdf (accessed July 2018)
Anderson S. Making medicines: A brief history of pharmacy and pharmaceuticals. 2005. London: Pharmaceutical Press