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Case Study

Jonathan Hindmarsh

Sunderland, UK

Practice Certificate in Independent Prescribing for Pharmacists

MSc Clinical Pharmacy

(MPharm) Pharmacy

Realising the restrictions that could occur with traditional prescribing and the need to cater to more complex patients, Jonathan Hindmarsh took on the Independent Prescribing for Pharmacists course. Aiming to develop his professional skills and abilities, he credits the supportive, experienced staff and first-class facilities at the University in helping him to make a huge difference within his role in palliative care in the NHS.

I work as an Advanced Clinical Pharmacist at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust as part of the integrated palliative care service, working alongside palliative care consultants, speciality doctors, and nurse specialists. I provide direct clinical care and follow-up to patients with specialist palliative care needs including those approaching end-of-life. The role is a demanding one, as it involves the detailed assessment of patients with life-limiting illnesses in a holistic fashion, considering their biological, psychological, social, and spiritual needs. The breadth of these assessments and the interventions I coordinate wouldn't be possible without my understanding of pharmacology and prescribing qualification.

I initiate and optimise pharmacological management for complex pain, distress, agitation, seizures, and bowel obstruction, as well as other life limiting conditions. Evidence for the use of pharmaceuticals in the palliative demographic is still somewhat limited and often requires pragmatic decisions based upon principles and pathophysiology learned during my undergraduate and postgraduate career – palliative medicine is an excellent speciality for anyone, like me, who embraces the clinical application of pharmacology!

After years of working in the NHS I recognised the bottlenecks that can occur with traditional prescribing models, which are heightened by increasing demand. Additionally, as we care for an ageing population, multimorbidity is becoming the norm, and we as healthcare professionals must equip ourselves for a future where patients are increasingly complex.

I realised the invaluable contribution that non-medical prescribers can make by increasing access to care and delivering individualised patient management in a sustainable and future-focused manner. Consequently, I wanted to develop my ability to perform clinical assessments, diagnose, and undertake complex critical decision making – all with the goal of achieving the skills to undertake safe, appropriate, and cost-effective independent prescribing in partnership with patients. The Independent Prescribing course was a cornerstone in facilitating this learning and development.

The course was well structured and covered a broad range of topics which seamlessly expanded upon undergraduate teaching, offering a progressive learning experience. Supportive and responsive staff with clinical experience provided accessible information which was easy to transfer from the classroom into the clinical environment. The face-to-face sessions were extremely engaging and facilitated the development of practical clinical skills and allowed for the growth of new professional networks through which sharing of best practice could occur. Overall, the course was challenging but highly rewarding.

Since completing my independent prescribing and advanced clinical skills training, I've worked as part of the specialist palliative care team in both hospice and hospital settings. The course has been essential in enabling my growth to undertake autonomous holistic patient assessments. I enjoy the immense personal and professional challenges that come with working at such a level, with a complex population. Many management decisions demand a solid understanding of both pharmacology and pathophysiology, and pharmacists are ideally placed to deliver this marriage in a way few other professional groups can.

I recently credentialled as a consultant pharmacist with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. I hope to transition into a post to continue my development by working across the five pillars of pharmacy practice to deliver complex patient care and positively influence system-wide change through research, innovation, and shaping policy and strategy. I also have the aspiration to further my development as a researcher and undertake a PhD.

The course at the University of Sunderland is perfect for your professional growth and development. As well as the equipment and resources needed to provide a progressive and diverse learning experience, it offers a combination of theory and practice. It also provides an essential foundation for your development as an autonomous practitioner. Personally, this course was the catalyst for change in my career, and provided the foundation that has allowed me to attain a highly rewarding role where I can make a huge difference to the lives of the patients I help look after.

The staff and state-of-the-art learning environments were first-class. Most importantly, they understood the role of non-medical prescribers and the challenges faced in the clinical environment, impeccably tailoring our own unique development journeys. This course is a must for every pharmacist!"

Published 13 June 2024

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