Clinical governance is an umbrella term used to describe a wide variety of activities carried out by healthcare workers to improve the quality of services. It is a continuous process and not a single event, thus clinical governance is emerging as a specialisation in itself. It requires organisation-wide cultural change. It is about creating a system to manage poor performance and finding new approaches for improving the standards by learning from failures.
It is a concept that is similar to corporate governance in business, and gained relevance in healthcare in the 1990s. This article by Firza Group looks into the various principles of clinical governance, the role of the pharmacist and its career challenges, along with perspectives.
Why clinical governance matters
Clinical governance is about integrating quality improvement and professional development to confirm that everyone on the team provides his or her best. It is about moving towards multidisciplinary education and team-based learning.
Clinical governance is mandatory for GP's. The recommendation is for them to have at least 30 hours of continuing professional education and three audits each year. And of course, pharmacists play a critical role in clinical governance too.
Role of the pharmacist in delivering clinical governance
Clinical governance is not a new phenomenon and has been practiced by pharmacists for years. It should not be considered something extra or optional. From a pharmacist perspective, it should include:
Clinical governance is essential for all healthcare stakeholders. It aims to improve every aspect of medical practice, and pharmacists have a vital role to play in it. Therefore, pharmacists must learn from their mistakes, invest in continuous learning, and ensure that they continuously improve their practice.
Career opportunities for pharmacist and clinical governance
So as pharmacists start getting more and more involved in clinical governance, it also opens up many possibilities. Slowly, a new kind of role is emerging, and now, large hospital pharmacies are appointing a separate person to take care of clinical governance.
Generally, a senior pharmacist with several years of experience is appointed for such a job, as it requires lots of knowledge and various skills. It is a job that requires identifying problematic areas and coming up with solutions.
People working in the area of clinical governance find the job highly satisfying, as it has different responsibilities. Another source of satisfaction for pharmacists in this job is the realisation that their job makes a significant impact on patient care.
Interested in the job of clinical governance?
Specialists advise that it is a job for those with at least five or more years of experience. It is a job for pharmacists who have worked at various positions earlier, and have good medical knowledge and clinical experience.
It's usually a more senior management role. However, various institutions may have specific requirements. A couple of decades back when it was all starting, there were no official courses on clinical governance. However, nowadays there are many courses available from online certificate programs to masters in clinical governance.
Most of those working in the field find the job highly rewarding due to the direct impact it makes on improving patient care. For many, what really appeals is that it is a role that involves making changes to healthcare practice, improving services.
Another attractive factor in the job is diversity. On one day, a person may work with the diabetes treatment protocol, and on another day, they may be working on alcohol-withdrawal, or looking at the risk of paediatric drugs. Thus there are lots of learning opportunities and great scope for personal development.
Financial rewards for the job are also something that attracts many towards clinical governance.
And on a final note, some pharmacists experienced in clinical governance warn that this job is not for everyone. Rather it is a job for people with thick skin. It is a job for those who do not worry about being unpopular or disliked by others. That being said, the rewards certainly outweigh the risks.
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In line with the success of the pilot programme that gave rise to over 400 full-time pharmacists taking up roles in general practice, there is a goal that by the year 2020, an additional 1,500 clinical pharmacists should begin working in general practice. This initiative is geared towards expanding the GP workforce in order to increase the possibility of patients having access to a wide range of health experts to cater to their health needs. Statistics show that by September 2018, the number of WTE clinical pharmacists who took up jobs in general practice was 810 and hundreds of other sites have received the approval to begin recruiting. In line with the NHS scheme to have clinical pharmacists included in the general practice, millions of patients can now receive medical advice directly from a pharmacist each time they have an appointment with their GP. GP practices today already have pharmacists in their employ and that is why this article will serve as the comprehensive guide for a practising GP pharmacist.
A GP pharmacist is expected to handle day to day issues with medicines, consult with patients directly, and provide treatment. GP pharmacists can assist patients in managing long-term sickness, advise polypharmacy patients and give treatment-related clinical advice. They will also help with communication all through patient care, deal with shortages by proffering alternatives, and also guide new pharmacists along their journey. GPs have to submit an official application showing how they plan to utilize the skills of a pharmacist since pharmacists were originally not being employed by GPs.
Having GP pharmacists helps GPs direct their skills more effectively to where they are really needed. Clinical pharmacists are expected to collaborate with other members of the GP team in order to enhance the value and outcomes that patients get from medicines. They are also meant to consult with these patients and give them direct treatment. As earlier mentioned, they will help these patients to manage their long-term conditions, provide the best tips and medical advice for patients who make use of multiple medicines, and also provide access to better health checkups for these patients.
Performing as a GP pharmacist has a lot of highlights and possibilities which you may not often come across at a community pharmacy. In comparison to the Community Pharmacy role, a GP Pharmacist will be using more of their clinical expertise day-to-day and be collaborating with other healthcare professionals much more often.
There is always the feeling that a pharmacist at a surgery may take up all the work of other personnel like nurses, thus, leaving them with nothing to do. However, this is not the case as every personnel at a GP have specific roles and parts to play while functioning as a team.
As many GPs are recruiting clinical pharmacists at present, the opportunities are numerous for pharmacists who wish to practice at GPs even with no previous work experience in a GP practice. Pharmacists can scout for these roles by themselves. GPs today need pharmacists to assist in the reduction of the pressures faced primary care doctors who seem to be decreasing in number. A GP pharmacist will be concerned mostly with medicines.
To take up a role as a GP pharmacist, it is recommended that you have experience in general, be willing to learn, have a teamwork spirit and valuable transferable skills from a community pharmacy like business, analytical, and consultation skills, as well as, confidence, good time management, independence, and record keeping skills.
SKILLS & TRAINING
All pharmacists who are interested in the GP pharmacist role must undertake relevant training and develop the needed workplace-based skills and knowledge.
There is a nationwide learning pathway which lasts for 18 months aimed at developing clinical pharmacists in conjunction with relevant bodies to teach clinical pharmacists to perform effectively in general practice. The training is centered on these themes –
CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
Of course, there have been some challenges as GP that applied for the pilot faced some setbacks because their setup did not permit them to make such forms of applications. There is also the challenge of hiring the right GP pharmacist once a job advert is put out.
For pharmacists who want to switch from community practice to surgeries, it is important that they understand what the role really entails and what will be expected of them when they take up the role. GPs are obligated to really specify what the practice really needs and match their needs with the pharmacist’s abilities and skills to ensure the easy assimilation of the pharmacist into the role. It is important that aspiring pharmacists really get to find out what the leadership is like at the GP and the form of support that is made available to them if they happen to get stuck while carrying out their duties.
Taking up a role as a GP pharmacist is a good way to expand your career opportunities. It is a very exciting role for new pharmacists and it is a way of adding value to patients, especially, with the advent of much more complex drugs, polypharmacy, and also care fragmentation between health agencies. Working in GP is provides a perfect opportunity to build a practice portfolio that is advanced and put yourself on the path to becoming a member of the Faculty.
If you are looking to become a GP practice pharmacist, talk to us today and we will be willing to provide you with all the guidance, tools, and necessary resources that you need to facilitate your professional development as a general practice pharmacist today.
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