Have you completed any additional qualifications in the area of mental health?
As well as a postgraduate diploma in pharmacy practice I also have a postgraduate diploma in psychiatric pharmacy. I am currently undertaking a PhD which is focused on mental health.
Could you describe a typical working day for you?
That’s a difficult question to answer as currently my time is split equally between clinical practice and research. Currently, on a practice day, I am responsible for leading on a service which is focused on improving the physical health for those with severe mental illness – ensuring monitoring is done and followed up. On a research day, this might be anything from undertaking a qualitative interview with a participant recruited to my research study, reviewing data collected, networking with others, reading, reviewing or research governance or conferences.
Are you a member of any professional bodies? Which ones and why are you a member?
I am also a fully credentialed member of the College of Mental Health Pharmacy
What is credentialing and why does it matter?
Credentialing is the College of Mental Health Pharmacy’s process for assessing members’ knowledge and experience. It allows a member to demonstrate that they are experts in the field of mental health pharmacy. (It does allow me to put the following letters after my name MCMHP). This type of membership is available to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who have attained an expert level of working.
To be eligible for full membership the associate CMHP member pharmacist has to demonstrate their expertise. To this end here are certain criteria related to years of practice within psychiatric/mental health pharmacy and/or relevant qualifications. Further information can be found here for those who might be interested: here.
I had to demonstrate my expert level of practice by submitting a portfolio of evidence and sitting a viva.
What are the big issues that concern you at the moment in mental health pharmacy?
Effective utilisation of our knowledge and skillset to improve care for mental health within a rapidly changing NHS on the background of increasing calls for pharmacists to be involved. In my opinion key to this is the maintenance of core services but increasing time spent in patient-facing medicines optimization roles and as part of the multidisciplinary team.
What are the risks of pharmacists taking on more responsibility in the area of mental health pharmacy?
We need to ensure that the fundamentals of our role are understood to ourselves and others as far as is possible. This will avoid the threat to these fundamentals when we move forward and undertake new roles and activities. In addition, avoiding our role being seen as a gap-fill where there is a lack of resource in other areas but establishing and demonstrating what we can do well and what we know.
We are faced with the environment of increasing public expectations, workforce pressures, and advances in technology and medicine. Without this clarity, we will not be able to select, educate and train pharmacists or focus on what the workforce might look like going forward.
We must be clear that we do not lose our way or lose our identity. If we aren’t clear about our own professional roles and the boundaries of those roles this can lead to friction and the best interest of our patients/service users and the public might not be met. We must also make sure that in order for us to fulfil our potential we must work in harmony across disciplines (i.e. with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals).