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Don't get comfortable: apply for the Faculty

Alison Ewing

Alison Ewing

I always think “what next?” when it comes to my life in pharmacy. It is easy to become complacent when you have been in a job for a long time and go for the comfortable options with minimum effort — but that is not me. I enjoy a challenge and when the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Faculty launched I was delighted: firstly because it gave the RPS a new direction and secondly because it pushed me into action.

I had never built a portfolio for the purposes of professional recognition, but when this opportunity arose I decided to bite the bullet and join the first wave of Faculty applicants.

Applying for the Faculty is a daunting process initially but, like eating an elephant, breaking things into bite-size pieces helps enormously! The support from the RPS is excellent. I was fortunate since, at the same time as completing the portfolio, I trained as an assessor. This might seem like an unfair advantage, but I believe that I was able to help make the application process better because I was completing the portfolio and understanding what was good evidence as an assessor at the same time.

As a starting point, at least my CV was up to date — always a good thing because you never know when you will need it.  Reflecting on your career is difficult: the highs, the lows and the sheer depth of it. It was sometimes hard to determine which piece of evidence fitted which element of the Advanced Pharmacy Framework, but after several entries this seemed to become easier. The range of potential evidence is huge and it makes you realise just how broad pharmacists’ working experiences can be.

Life can be lonely as a chief pharmacist — there is little praise and a great deal of pressure in the day-to-day job. The lovely thing about the Faculty portfolio is that you can be assured that an objective assessment of your career has been made and that you have done some good things. It also encompasses testimonials from colleagues and peers. This, for me, was the most emotional part of the process; reading the testimonials that colleagues wrote gave me confidence that I might just have made a contribution to the profession after all.

So why should you all go and apply for Faculty membership? I believe it will become a professional benchmark in the future and will be particularly useful for those in the NHS who wish to advance to consultant pharmacist level, because it is an independent assessment of achievements. Just under half of the first wave submissions came from hospital — the largest sector of applicants — so it is obviously something we have been waiting for.

Personally, the Faculty has given me the impetus to look at where I can improve in my practice and identify future continuing professional development. I expect it to form an essential part of revalidation in the future.

Good luck to all of you who go down this road. It is hard but so worthwhile.

Citation: Clinical Pharmacist DOI: 10.1211/CP.2013.11131198

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