The facts about pharmacy
Pharmacy is the third largest health profession in the UK – a good job really, considering that in England alone 1.6 million people visit a pharmacy each and every day with the average person paying the pharmacy a visit 14 times over the course of a year. To qualify, pharmacists must train for a total of five years – that’s one less year than a doctor and one more year than a nurse – and once fully qualified, you’ll find them in a number of different settings, from the high street to hospitals to universities, with some pharmacists now even working in GP surgeries.
What are the sub-specialties?
There are a number of sub-specialties within this area of medicine with different pharmacists working from a number of different locations – find out more below.
Also known as retail pharmacists, community pharmacists are responsible for dispensing prescriptions, providing advice on drug selection and usage to doctors and other healthcare professionals, as well as supporting and educating customers on health promotion, disease prevention and the proper use of medicines. Their services also include blood pressure checks, advice on stopping smoking, medicine reviews, flu vaccinations and a number of other common illness services. Around 70% of pharmacists work in the community and there is a total of 13,000 community pharmacists in the UK. Because of this, they are very easily accessible, with 99% of the population being able to get to a pharmacy within 20 minutes by car.
Around 20% of pharmacists in the UK work in hospitals and specialise in a variety of clinical areas such as:
- Heart disease
- Infectious diseases
- Children’s health
- Mental health
Working as part of a multi-disciplinary team, they play an essential role in patient care, with their responsibilities including:
- Managing caseloads of patients
- Providing treatment programmes for all hospital patients
- Monitoring medication usage
- Counseling patients
- Providing drug information and advice to HCPs
In fact, like doctors, hospital pharmacists regularly attend ward rounds and some pharmacists even work in the Accident and Emergency departments of hospitals. Hospital pharmacists tend to work directly with patients, helping them to manage their care as well as providing advice to patients who may have problems with their medicines.
A number of GP surgeries in Britain already work closely with pharmacists and in October 2016 this went even further when NHS England announced a pilot scheme whereby £31million is going to be allocated to fund new clinical pharmacists posts in GP surgeries across 73 sites. See a list of the pilot sites here.
The practice-based pharmacist’s role in the surgery is to help patients resolve problems they may be having with their medicines, especially those with long-term conditions such as asthma or those who are on lots of different medications. One of the biggest benefits of practice-based pharmacists in that they free up the GPs so they can spend more time with patients and increase the number of patients they are able to see on a daily basis – and with a seven day surgery in the not-too-distant future and the landscape of the NHS constantly changing, multi-skilled talent such as pharmacists in GP surgeries has never been more important.
Pharmacy Assistants and Technicians
Pharmacy assistants and technicians are part of the pharmacy team and work together to provide support for the pharmacist. Pharmacy assistants work directly under the registered pharmacist and are responsible for helping pharmacists to order, prepare and dispense medicines whereas pharmacy technicians are responsible for managing the supply of medicines and can also assist pharmacists with advisory services. In addition to this, pharmacy technicians also work within the hospital conducting more specialised work such as manufacturing or preparing complex medicines.
Considering how busy they are, there is understandably an impact on the feasibility of recruiting pharmacists for healthcare market research projects – however the fact that there are so many pharmacists working across the country does help to make recruitment easier. In fact, here at GKA recruiting pharmacists is something of a specialist area for us and in the last three years alone we’ve carried out over 100 healthcare market research projects with pharmacists.
We’ve got a wealth of experience in recruiting pharmacists across a number of therapy areas including:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Multiple myeloma
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- And more!
With over 700 retail/community pharmacists and over 500 hospital pharmacists on our database, we have also helped to recruit pharmacists for a number of healthcare market research methodologies such as telephone qual, online qual, central location/focus groups, online surveys, in-field interviews and CATi studies.
If you have been asked to carry out a healthcare market research project focusing on pharmacy and any of the specialties surrounding it, why not download our panel book to find out more about the numbers we can give you access to by clicking on the picture below: