The future of pharmacy is the hands of the next generation

Our Quality & Clinical Standards Director and Superintendent Pharmacist, Steve Howard reflects on the vast possibilities for a career in pharmacy after speaking to students at a careers conference last week.

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to pharmacy students at the Alternative Pharmacy Careers conference at the University of East Anglia. I was asked to talk about my career in pharmacy, and the various roles that will be instrumental in the future as our healthcare needs evolve. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to share my thoughts and experiences with such a motivated and engaged group. It allowed me the chance to reflect on how our sector has evolved.

When I think back through all of the developments that I have experienced, since donning that metaphorical white coat for the first time as a fresh faced twenty-something, I am reminded that change is nothing new. It’s important that we continue to take the opportunities to evolve and grow pharmacy. You get nowhere by standing still.

So, with the back drop of our well-publicised challenges I think there is cause for optimism that comes from our future. The Community Pharmacy Forward View outlines a vision of pharmacy that is built on clinical services and patient interaction, which is something we should all be on board with.

Never so much as now has pharmacy been spoken about as part of the solution to the many challenges faced by an under pressure NHS. The time to contribute far more to the prescribing decision, to optimise medicines and work collaboratively across sectors and across professional boundaries is coming at pace. The world will change and we will experience far greater practice innovation in the next 10 years than in the previous 100.

It’s the next generation, like the young people I spoke to last week that will help us to deliver this vision. I wanted to make it clear during my key note speech that a degree and background in pharmacy can lead you into an exciting and varied career. Today’s graduates will have the opportunity to build a clinical career that my generation could only dream of… they will be the ones responding to a changing healthcare world.  However, I know from my own career that it’s rarely a straight career path – more like crazy paving.

To ensure our industry stays strong, it’s not enough to simply produce stronger pharmacists; we need to develop a broader range of expertise and skills. Your pharmacy degree can take you a number of ways, from clinical roles to those in business or training, journalism or finance. It is only with passionate and talented people filling these positions that we can truly reach the potential of pharmacy.