A lot to be proud of

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A lot to be proud of

Despite the political and economic uncertainty, I have been reassured about the future of our profession. I once again had the pleasure of presenting to the 200 or so students who attended the successful BPSA conference, held this year at Nottingham University. I shared my experiences, and encouraged them to continue their careers in the wonderful profession of pharmacy. 

I was delighted to see more first year students attend the conference than ever before. I saw how motivated and engaged with their studies they were by the range of questions they raised during the sessions, and in the quality of the finalists for the Alliance Healthcare Business and Enterprise Student of the Year Award. Congratulations to winner Aaron Paul, a first-year student from Kingston University, who researched how a group of pharmacies would implement FMD. Aaron used his initiative to visit his local pharmacy to gain invaluable first-hand advice – something I encourage all students to do. 

If you get the opportunity, volunteer to mentor one of these young people. You’ll never know how smart a move this can be: these students could come and work for you, bringing with them fantastic new ideas. What’s more, they are digitally savvy and will be a great asset as our profession evolves within the digital arena. 

Relationships are key 

In the recent months I’ve welcomed three MPs to our Alliance Healthcare service centres. Each visit has demonstrated how valuable it can be to engage with your local MP; just 30 minutes is all you need to showcase the value of our service to local communities we serve. Building on these relationships can only help your business to grow, and the profession to have influence where it matters.

Talking of influence, last month I visited Alphega Pharmacy member and award-winning Priory Community Pharmacy in Dudley, and superintendent pharmacist Olutayo Arikawe and her dedicated team. Olutayo is a wonderful ambassador for community pharmacy, and has a truly admirable work ethic and personality to match. I was there to help with the gardening.

Mental health awareness is rightly becoming a focus for healthcare, and Priory Community Pharmacy is actively looking for ways to meet the growing demand for mental health services. Its new community garden project will benefit customers and the local community and local dignitaries, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Dudley, were on hand to mark its opening behind the pharmacy. The locals can grow vegetables, spices and herbs with therapeutic benefits, while of course enjoying the tranquil outdoor space, the positive effects from gardening and the companionship. 

The garden typifies the holistic approach of Olutayo – the range of services her team offers is impressive – it is no surprise to me she’s turned a patch of waste ground into an area that will help both the physical and mental wellbeing of her customers. The community garden demonstrates again the value a community pharmacy can bring to society and, by doing more than dispensing medicine, truly add value to its local community.

Fantastic initiatives like these are taking place across the UK. And they are really making a difference. We just have to get better at raising the profile of what we all do. 

The reality is clear. We have to evolve to continue to claim our space in the local communities we serve. We have to show positive solutions and ways that community pharmacy will help to fill the gap caused by the shortage of GPs. By engaging with local MPs, collaborating with other healthcare professionals, and working together, we really will demonstrate the true value of community pharmacy. 

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