By Bhavisha Patel

Ten years ago, I dreamt of becoming a pharmacist. In fact, I was dead set on it. Whilst embarking my A-Levels all I wished for was to get the grades to get me on an MPharm course. I did undertake some work experience in a community pharmacy setting, which I used in my personal statement for my UCAS application. Ten years later, I’ve fulfilled the dream of becoming a pharmacist.

Currently, I am a community pharmacist who predominantly works for a pharmacy chain. Community pharmacy itself has changed quite drastically in the last few years and with the introduction of Community Pharmacist Consultation Service it looks as if community pharmacy is about to get a lot more clinical. Despite being newly qualified, I still felt there was room for improvement in terms of further advancing my clinical skills. The Pharmacy Integration Fund had funding to undergo a postgraduate certificate in Clinical Pharmacy, and I thought this was a perfect way to develop myself.

I applied and enrolled myself onto the Clinical Community Pharmacy Postgraduate Programme at Bath University. The course itself is predominantly distance learning, with a faceto-face day for each module that’s undertaken. For me personally, having done some distance learning prior to starting this course, I knew this type of learning suited me as it would allow me to study and work at the same time.

Furthermore, I found face-to-face days incredibly useful in keeping me engaged and motivated throughout each module, in order to complete the course.

On our first face-to-face day, we learnt how to take manual blood pressure reading. This wasn’t something that was completely new to me, but I never got to use it in practice. Having that refresher on how to undertake a manual blood pressure reading, highlighted I am still as hopeless a as I was during university.

Having seen my peers manage to do this successfully has motivated me to get this skill mastered by the end of the year. Moreover, when implementing this skill in front of patients it’s going to get them talking. After all you do associate a stethoscope with a doctor; but if we can become competent in providing that service, why not?

We all identify gaps in our knowledge; and our annual CPD’s are reflective of this. But there are opportunities available for everyone to develop themselves as pharmacists; whether it be clinical, managerial or even research – we just have to find it. The skills that I learn undertaking this postgraduate course I can apply in my current role as a pharmacist, in another setting as a pharmacist, or even in an alternative role. In ten-years’ time I may still be a community pharmacist.

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