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Hospital pharmacists: make use of opportunities to lead

Directorate pharmacists can use leadership skills to help transform pharmacy services in hospitals. Here, we take at look at how

Good leadership is vital. Especially in times of unprecedented changed within healthcare, pharmacists need to be seen to be effective in leading change and championing improvements in medicines use and safety.

Pharmacists in management positions are the obvious people to look to for leadership; but what about pharmacists working at directorate level?

Directorate pharmacists are the experts when it comes to the medicines used in their specialist areas and, as such, are not only able to act as leaders but should actively take the opportunity to do so. In addition, directorate pharmacists who exhibit good leadership skills will also be able to engage positively with managers and clinicians in positions of authority, ensuring that pharmacy remains high on the agenda within the hospital.

Explore opportunities

So what opportunities do directorate pharmacists have to lead? Examples include:

  • Leading the roll-out of new medicines in their clinical areas (including risk assessment and strategies to minimise errors)
  • Formulating strategies to improve clinical practice (eg, improving rates of venous thromboembolism prophylaxis)
  • Leading clinical audits, identifying the educational needs of staff and taking action to fill the learning gap
  • Horizon-scanning for new medicines and considering if and how these should be incorporated into existing clinical pathways
  • Influencing national or regional policy by co-ordinating responses to consultation documents

There is a Royal Pharmaceutical Society Leadership Competency Framework for Pharmacy Professionals that describes the leadership competencies that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians need to become more actively involved in the planning, delivery and transformation of health services (see Figure).

 Leadership competency framework
The five domains of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Leadership Competency Framework for Pharmacy Professionals


Why not take the opportunity in the coming weeks to consider, and then discuss with your pharmacy colleagues, the following:

  • Which leadership traits come naturally to me and which do I need to develop further?
  • Where am I currently demonstrating leadership within my department, specialist area or organisation?
  • What opportunities exist for me to demonstrate good leadership to enhance my own role, represent the profession and improve patient care?

Taking the time to reflect on the importance of leadership is key to realising the potential of our profession and making the most of the opportunities we have to improve patient care. 

This piece is abridged from an article by Chris Green, PhD, MRPharmS, and Richard Cattell, MSc, MRPharmS, first published in Clinical Pharmacist (2011;3:189).

Interested in a career change? Take a look at the latest job listings on PJ Careers (

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11133200

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