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Why pharmacists should never settle for a general practice that doesn't support them

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Why pharmacists should never settle for a general practice that doesn't support them

Source: Rupa Lyall

Back row: Jamie Tulumello Santos Silva, Monica Norways and Natalie Brewer (administration and support); front row: James Turner (junior doctor), Keera Meads (administration and support), Linda Neale (assistant nurse), Rupa Lyall (clinical pharmacist), Rachael Morrell (partner), Olive Gronow (practice nurse) and Hardeep Bhupal (partner)

I worked in community pharmacy for 15 years. My career was rewarding and fulfilling, but then, in 2018, my job began to feel robotic. I was no longer challenged by my role.

So I decided to train as an independent prescriber, to specialise in the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in depression and to join forces with a general practice; I wanted to develop clinically and professionally to deliver the best patient care.

When I started working for a general practice I finally felt that sense of excitement I craved; I had a vision of how I would contribute to the practice and empower patients to be involved in decisions about their health — especially those with mental health problems.

Unfortunately, my time at this practice was short lived. They didn’t know how to use my skills, leaving me isolated and unsupported. I was so disappointed that the experience really hit my confidence as clinical pharmacist.

However, I loved the job and the interaction it gave me with patients. I was determined to persevere and find another surgery that would support me.

I visited a number of surgeries for interview, but I just could not resonate with their practice cultures. Then, in June 2019, a colleague pointed me in the direction of Gladstone Surgery in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, which was looking for a clinical pharmacist.

Their advertisement was so warm and welcoming; it invited applicants for a visit and an informal chat. When I arrived, I knew straight away that this — the people and their culture — was exactly what I was looking for. They were friendly and supportive, and I felt confident that I would be well guided — quite the opposite of what I had experienced before.

I got the job. I am so proud to work at Gladstone; I never imagined I could be so happy and satisfied in my career, or that I would ever work alongside such a talented healthcare team which nurtures such a caring environment for their patients and colleagues.

The partners at the surgery, Hardeep Bhupal and Rachael Morrell, provide training for junior doctors and medical students, including independent prescribers. They have warmly welcomed the NHS’s long-term plan, which will see greater use of clinical pharmacists like me in general practice. They’ve entrusted me with clinics for minor illness, and I also carry out face-to-face medication reviews and see patients for depression.

The partners and our practice manager, Alison Jones, lead by example, and the positive impact they have on the entire team is evident. The team sing from the same hymn sheet and they fiercely support each other through the good and the not-so-good days. They go above and beyond for their patients, who hold them in such high regard.

Gladstone Surgery is visionary and it sees the benefits of working as a multidisciplinary team to provide the best care for its patients. I am grateful to be part of such an encouraging, passionate and approachable team and have such inspiring mentors, whom I can call on for help and advice, whenever I need to, without hesitation. I am excited about my future here, and the contribution I can bring, as a clinical pharmacist, to the practice and its patients in our ever-changing healthcare landscape.

You should never settle for an employer who is not willing to help you grow.

This what every general practice should look like.

Rupa Lyall, clinical pharmacist, Gladstone Surgery, Chesham

Readers' comments (1)

  • I'm just in my final year of study and would love to become a practice-based pharmacist in the future. It's always nice hearing from someone who's gone and done it!
    Could you elaborate a bit on the red flags that we should look out for in a bad general practice?

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