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Conferences and commas

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Week 3 at The Pharmaceutical Journal was rounded off with such an epic weekend that blogging fell by the wayside for a couple of days!

I thought I was quite good at spelling and grammar. Alas! No, I have lots still to learn. Split infinitives and even apostrophes were giving me grief when I was presented with some friendly editing exercises this week. It’s amazing how much there is to know about the finer points of the English language, editing columns and letters plus putting the final touches to a feature I’ve been writing. I am learning, certainly.

I've also been out and about exploring new pharmacy frontiers. On Wednesday, I went along to a report launch (Care planning – improving the lives of people with long term conditions) hosted by the Royal College of General Practitioners. It was both an exciting and slightly disheartening experience. Championing long-term patient orientated outcomes over the chasing of HbA1c targets (diabetes was used to exemplify the ‘new’ approach to care planning), the RCGP is now keen to encourage patients with long-term conditions to take control of their health proactively.

A lot was said about facilitating consultations that focus on the patient’s concerns and questions, allowing them to set the agenda and suggest their own targets. The overall message was that patients should be assured that their GPs care more about their general well being, quality of life and ability to complete their daily activities with as little disruption possible, than they care about ticking boxes.

This approach makes absolute sense, so great stuff from the RCGP, although I didn't feel like I was hearing anything particularly new. After three years of pharmacy education this is all genuinely second nature and common sense. I suppose this is the benefit of being a pharmacy undergraduate at such an exciting time for the profession.

However, with all the talk about interprofessional working, there was no mention at the report launch, (or in the report itself) of the (obviously vital!) role that pharmacy has to play in the care of patients with long-term conditions. This frustrates me, since I can't tell you how long I've spent learning about long-term care of patients with diabetes. Even I, a young and naïve pharmacy student, feel that I could give a whole lecture on pharmacy input in caring for patients with long-term conditions.

When I asked a question about the role of the pharmacy with respect to the new report, the panel had seemingly little to say, except that a pharmacist might expect to get the odd extended medicines review now and again! This only goes to show that pharmacists should be more proactive in promoting the services they can deliver, both to patients and fellow health professionals! Doing this practically with limited resources is a challenge, but an interviewing expedition to Milton Keynes today has prompted some interesting thoughts on the matter!

Frustration aside, you can't beat a good conference, and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society annual conference was no exception. Aside from a really enjoyable day meeting, greeting and tea drinking, it was an opportunity to experience my first proper research-sharing style conference.

I went to two sessions where researchers presented their findings on 'management of long-terms conditions '(do I see a theme emerging?) and 'striving to achieve quality and safety in secondary care'. This was particularly interesting, since I'll be expected to present my own fourth-year research project in much the same way in the not-too-distant future! Some of the presentations and posters were more interesting than others, but it was encouraging to see a couple of students presenting their work. I'll be reporting these in more detail on the PJ Online RPS coverage blog as soon as I've eaten some dinner and addressed a major blog deficit! It was also good to hear Marc DuBois talking about Médecins Sans Frontières, since I have lately often considered doing pharmacy work abroad, particularly in the developing world. However, more thoughts for the future!

This week I met up with a few friends, visited The Rose Theatre and the o2. I nipped to Luton on Saturday night (as you do) before rushing back to London for the conference on Sunday (which was I'd say the first and last time I'm ever going to a Sunday conference!). I came back 'home' via Camden to meet with friends last night before a flying visit to Milton Keynes this morning.

I'm looking forward to getting back to the RPS restaurant for some good food tomorrow. After all this excitement, I'm looking forward to some lunch back in the RPS restaurant tomorrow (Macdonalds and biscuits are not good for my long-term cardiovascular risk) and wondering if my final few days with the PJ will be any quieter...

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