Thoughts from the British Pharmacy Students Association (BPSA) conference

Pharmacist and head of clinical standards and pharmacovigilance, Sanjeev Kaushal from Celesio UK, recently attended the BPSA annual conference at  Keele University. He was invited to speak to the next generation of pharmacists about the future of pharmacy and the clinical opportunities on offer within the profession. 

“We’re all aware of the challenges facing community pharmacy, alongside those of the NHS, and it’s fair to say that the last two years have been somewhat difficult for our profession. An initial poll indicated about 90% of students (n75) were unclear about their future prospects after graduation. That’s why it’s great to be able to take a step back and scan the horizon seeking out  clinical opportunities that exist for pharmacists at a time that is pivotal for everyone to embrace the changing and innovative world of healthcare. We talked about macro changes surrounding us and recognising the need to be more creative with our skillsets and seek out opportunities to collaborative with other healthcare professionals across various care settings.

I was delighted to be invited to speak at the BPSA annual conference about what we’re doing at Celesio UK and within the LloydsPharmacy Speciality division to become relevant and agile to meet growing patient needs. I was met with an enthusiastic response by the young and energised delegates who wanted to make a difference to society but also to patients, knowing they will add value and put their vocational knowledge to good use.  They are the next generation of pharmacy and healthcare leaders and will very much form the future workforce and bring to life current plans of digitalising healthcare and adding value throughout the patient’s care pathway. In many ways, the profession will soon be in their hands, so it was reassuring to see their belief and passion in playing a bigger role in healthcare and recognising the greater good in team work and learning to coach patients through their treatment goals.

Many of the young people I spoke with were both concerned and excited about tackling the challenges facing pharmacy at the moment and their eagerness to solve some of the issues was particularly inspiring. We talked about crazy paving careers and the importance of working for organisations that align to your own personal values and that are committed to developing your talent.

I introduced our exciting new LloydsPharmacy Healthcare Centre concept to the audience and spoke about how speciality pharmacy can help to unlock the potential of our community presence. By working with the NHS to provide more clinical services – like injections – supported by educating patients on disease and drug management, we can offer a new dynamic to the patient/pharmacist relationship. We talked about the benefits of a multi-disciplinary team approach using nursing and pharmacy skills that add most value to patient care and overall experience.

Not only that, but we’re helping to demonstrate the enhanced role that pharmacists and pharmacy teams can play in delivering more joined up healthcare services. Through our Healthcare Centres, we are introducing our pharmacy teams to a host of different therapy areas and treatment pathways, including oncology and immunology creating patient access to advice and support closer to home.

As these young people embark on their careers, it’s important that they know what the future holds. I remember before I qualified as a pharmacist, being particularly interested in how pharmacy can play a greater role in cancer care, which led me to specialising in oncology. I hope that the young pharmacists I spoke to went away from the event feeling inspired and positive about their future and how they can help shape it.

A final poll asking the same question that we started with indicated that pharmacy undergraduates left feeling reassured and thrilled about the very special future that lies ahead where change brings opportunity.

We’re really proud to work with the BPSA to support the development of young pharmacists and help prepare them for a world where they can flourish and add value to how patients can enjoy healthier and fuller lives.