As pharmacists strive to emerge as leaders in healthcare, there is a need for future leaders who are skilled practitioners and represent the diverse workforce.
Against this backdrop, the chief pharmaceutical officer’s (CPhO’s) clinical Fellow scheme, led by the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM), is a fundamental platform, which provides pharmacists with an opportunity to step into leadership roles and contribute to the changing healthcare landscape. In 2023, there are 13 Fellows hosted at 10 different organisations.
Here, four Fellows recount their experiences in joining the scheme and the projects that they are leading on.
Kaniksha Aggarwal, CPhO Fellow at Care Quality Commission
Patient advocacy has always been an integral part of my work ethos, but when my father became ill — with only my mother to advocate for him — it began to hold a deeper meaning and ignited my leadership journey.
It was time for me to see how pharmacy was influencing patient decisions through a different lens. This led me to transition from community pharmacy to mental health.
During my tenures at two mental health trusts, I developed hospital-based clinical leadership skills, through shadowing one of the chief pharmacists. The role of pharmacy became clearer to me from a wider system landscape.
My interest in secure environments peaked when I joined HM Prison Wandsworth in 2020. My in-depth understanding of health and justice fortified relations at senior prison meetings, reinforcing collaborative working.
I had experienced influencing and leading locally, but wanted to expand on this. The CPhO Fellowship is a gateway to national improvement and innovation, and despite hesitating to apply for two years, I am now pursuing it.
Ashifa Trivedi, CPhO Fellow at NHS London Procurement Partnership
It is easy to look back on your career and wonder if you have made the right choices. Everyone has self-doubt and it is normal to question our decisions.
During a recent conversation with a senior NHS leader, we reflected on this and decided that it is more important to focus on the bits of your career that add to your narrative, rather than comparing your journey to anyone else’s.
People often ask where you see yourself in five or ten years. I could not decide but knew that I enjoyed being able to influence change at a broader level. I enjoyed being part of decision-making processes that allowed for maximum patient impact. My aspiration is to be credentialed as a consultant paediatric pharmacist and therefore I have tried to align my work and interests towards this.
The CPhO Fellowship felt like the next step, providing a chance to collaborate with senior leaders, enhancing my own ability to be a leader. Additionally, it offers the opportunity to develop skills such as policy development and project management, which are integral for effective leadership and pivotal in driving organisational success.
Clare Thomson, CPhO Fellow at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society
I am currently working as a Fellow at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), supporting, leading and advocating for the pharmacy profession in England. I also act as the RPS representative on the NHS England national patient safety response advisory panel.
The main project I’m responsible for is the creation of a national toolkit for repeat prescribing in primary care, which is due to be launched in May 2024. This was recommended in the national overprescribing review in 2021 and commissioned by NHS England, working in collaboration with the Royal College of General Practitioners.
My role is to work alongside the clinical lead and coordinate the project by liaising with different stakeholders, planning workshops of the expert advisory group, and meeting deadlines agreed with NHS England. This has been an unrivalled opportunity to oversee creation of a toolkit that will impact patient care at a national level and work with clinical leaders in the field.
With the recent formation of integrated care boards, there is a compelling and urgent need for clinical leadership and cooperation across boundaries, and working at the RPS has exposed me to this.
Amna Khan-Patel, CPhO Fellow at NHS England’s transformation directorate
My Fellowship is at NHS England’s transformation directorate, where I am part of the digital medicines team, based in Leeds.
I predominantly provide senior clinical support to different projects and workstreams. Having started the Fellowship in September 2023, I have already gained insight into how national organisations function and how this impacts programmes of work at a regional and local level.
Transitioning from working in an acute trust to working remotely was an adjustment and I had to adapt my working practices in this new world.
The project I am leading is focused on the adoption of closed-loop medicine administration and closed-loop medicine supply, and learning from the implementation of the original global digital exemplars sites.
On the Fellowship scheme, we have insight days hosted by other organisations on the scheme. In addition, FMLM provides us with leadership study days on topics such as politics and policy and understanding leadership styles.
Fellows also have to work on a group project and I am leading the CPhO Fellows to address the attainment gap within the pharmacy profession.
NHS England has produced a talent management resource tool for pharmacy professionals outlining the various opportunities available.
We encourage pharmacists from all sectors of practice to consider the opportunities available and consider applying for the CPhO’s Fellowship scheme when recruitment opens in 2024.