I’d managed a few community pharmacies in the 5 years since I qualified. I always enjoyed the clinical aspects of the job but felt it was increasingly difficult to make a difference in the management of patients despite the improvements in the pharmacy contract (MURs etc). I was getting to the point where I knew that I was not going to get long term job satisfaction in a single pharmacy and I did not want to jump between jobs every 2-3 years.
I applied for an advertised ICS position knowing that I didn't have any experience in primary care, medicines management or with GP clinical systems. It seemed like the ideal pharmacist job; daily clinical dialogue with GPs and managing long term conditions within primary care, without being 'tied' to the pharmacy dispensing bench! I started with Interface in June 2009 along with Jack Birchall and we boosted the clinical pharmacist team to 11 members. Now we’re a team of over 70 clinical pharmacists and Jack is the National NHS Liaison Executive!
My initial training period was intense with just one week of training with the established clinical team; this has since been extended to three weeks training and shadowing including a three day induction course at Head Office and further support days as needed. All of the clinical audits I received training on were really defined so I could tailor my CPD to ensure that I could deliver them successfully. It was great to be able to use my clinical skills and remember why I had trained to be a pharmacist in the first place. GPs really wanted to engage with us and the audits were of great benefit to both practice and patients. CPD can sometimes be a challenge but since I've been with ICS I've never had a shortage of inspiration as you are continually refining clinical knowledge within all of our clinical work streams.
As I gained more experience, I really enjoyed the challenges of the clinical and IT systems we use on a daily basis. As new members joined the clinical team I became involved in their training and development and really enjoyed this new challenge. In January 2012 I was promoted to the position of Senior Clinical Pharmacist and took on a responsibility for the training and clinical development of both new and established members of staff.
Whilst in the position of Senior Pharmacist a number of new projects came on board. I became involved in the development of these new services, helping to design reporting sheets and clinical tools to enable audits to be carried out efficiently and in accordance with the necessary clinical standards. Following this I became the Service Design Manager in January 2014 and now I’m responsible for ensuring that all new and established projects are delivered according to best practice across the team. My new role covers both the design of new services within the Service Design Team and training of senior clinical pharmacists and Regional Business Managers in the delivery of our services.
Throughout my career with ICS it’s always been clear that they absolutely value the clinical skills of a pharmacist and we’re rewarded with an extended Christmas break each year! This value is easily lost when working in a busy dispensary. As a company we have always been very keen to develop the skills of the clinical pharmacists and in my time with the company have developed from the directors and the clinical pharmacists to a multi-layered team including Senior Clinical Pharmacists, Service Development Pharmacists and Regional Business Managers (not to mention Marketing, PR, HR, Analysts). Nearly all of whom started with ICS as a clinical pharmacist from a community or hospital pharmacy background and developed within the company to their current role. I’m excited for the future and to see what challenges and continued development lies ahead.