Published: December 10, 2021
Pharmacist being in primary care (general practices) is quite a novel concept. So far, this has brought about countless benefits brought to the healthcare system. After having the opportunity to shadow the pharmacist locality team in Dumfries, I can really see the positive impacts of pharmacists in the GP setting.
In the third year of studying the MPharm programme, students would be able to attend GP placements as it is organised within the course but due to the pandemic those has been cancelled. After seeking out for countless external placement opportunities, going through the anxieties of interviews and competitive interview process due to other pharmacy students across the UK experiencing the same situation, I was fortunate enough to secure a 3 week GP placement in Dumfries, Scotland.
I will not deny that learning has been difficult during the pandemic with everything being online. As pharmacy is a pretty practical and hands on career, I felt some sort of ‘detachment’ between the knowledge learnt in the past year to real life. During my placement, I have learnt how to do medication reviews which really allowed me to put the clinical knowledge learnt in University into practice. This has greatly helped me to contextualise the materials learnt at University, giving the things learnt at University a new sense of meaning. Apart from that, I have learnt how to look at discharge letters and update patients’ medical records accordingly. I also had the opportunity to call patients to talk about the medication that they are taking and give advice on them. Also, I have helped out in doing a good number of clinical audits for the general practice as well.
Prescribing a medication for an indication / disease is one thing, but the side effects of medications is another thing to be considered. Pharmacists are the experts in knowing these things.
For example, a patient has been taking medication X for 2 years already, and need to start on medication Y today, but these two medications interacts. GPs may not always be aware of this and therefore, this does highlight the importance of pharmacists in general practice. We managed to “catch” a good number of clinically incomplete medical records and were able to amend them where appropriate.
There is so much a pharmacist can do within a general practice, but all of us only have a finite of hours in a day. Therefore, I have learnt about the importance of prioritising and time management as well. With the substantial amount of workload, it also highlights the importance of working alongside the GPs, working in a team, to find the best possible way to resolve issues so that we not only are able to quickly find a solution for a patient, but also, to be able to have more time to attend to more patients who needs care as well.
I am truly grateful for Future Funds to make my placement become a reality, to allow me to fully focus on this placement and be committed to the learning. This placement did not only allow me to learn a lot about pharmacy knowledge and the skills required to be a pharmacist, it has also opened my eyes to the possibilities of the career prospects in pharmacy after I have finished my degree. I had zero impression on what pharmacists do in the GP setting but after the past 3 weeks in Dumfries, considering primary care to be the sector that I will progress in the future has became a top option for me.
Apart from gaining all these valuable experience that is beneficial for my future career, I am blessed to have met so many kind and sincere people in Dumfries as well, which really enhanced the whole experience being in Dumfries in a positive way. This has been one of the most significant experiences in my life.