A week with the RPS — pharmacy student, Josh Miller on his time with RPS Scotland

FOR me and for many students, and most probably some pharmacists, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is known for a copy of the Medicines, Ethics and Practice (MEP) guide, and then the rest is pretty confusing. For others, they reap in the benefits that the RPS offers: professional support and guidance, and representation of the profession in the media.

My perspective changed recently when I had the pleasure of spending a week in the RPS Edinburgh Office to uncover and witness the day-to-day activities of our professional body.

First things first, is the common myth that the RPS only represents registered pharmacists. Wrong! The society represents pharmacists throughout their career from the first day of your MPharm to after retirement! They work tirelessly to support, not only its members, but all pharmacists within Great Britain. However, membership does have its benefits.

During my first day in the office I was already surprised at the diversity of work that the team faces on a daily basis. This included a phone call from a nervous foundation pharmacist about a controlled drug error — they were quickly reassured by one of the experienced pharmacists within the building.

Another colleague was preparing for a radio segment about the recent well publicised news about a celebrity addicted to tramadol. There is a whole team working on public affairs and relations, manning social media and working hard on policy development, not to mention the important task of responding to consultations. All this means the RPS Scotland team is never shy of work.

I always knew that the RPS had input within government but I didn’t realise how fundamental this was. I was lucky enough to be given some work to complete: researching the logistics and potential issues surrounding pharmacist access to medical notes. Every detail was noted to help build a strong and credible case, which will be taken to the array of meetings and boards which seemed to be a perpetual hurdle in making change possible. As pharmacists we all have ideas and dreams of change within the profession, but here I was actually seeing it happen!

Annamarie McGregor — Professional Support Lead, and Aileen Bryson — Interim Director for Scotland, spoke to me about the importance of continuing my membership after graduation and registration. We discussed strategies to try to increase membership numbers, and I believe the real hook is discovering the benefits membership brings.

Yes, it is the MEP and BNF, but it’s also the My first day as a pharmacist guide, local networks, national conferences, and registration exam preparation. But, most importantly I believe, it is a sense of belonging and immense professional pride.

I see pharmacy and pharmacy practice in a totally different light now. I see it as a being constantly evolving for the better, and now thanks to the team at RPS think of the individuals constantly driving for that change to happen. As we are all too aware, the landscape of Scottish pharmacy is rapidly changing, and I can tell you there are no intentions of stopping. We as a profession need to embrace these changes and get behind the amazing organisation that propels them forward.

Pharmacists are all dedicated to healthcare, and no matter what field we strive to be the best we can be. The RPS supports that whether you have been practising for decades, or if you are fresh out of pre-registration. The Society allows pharmacists of all ages to nurture and grow to be the best they possibly can be, and I believe you’d be a fool not to take hold of the wonderful knowledge, expertise and guidance they offer.

Josh Miller is a 3rd pharmacy student at the University of Strathclyde

Book your place at the RPS Scotland Seminar on September 30-October 1.

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