By Fiona Smith, PhD Researcher and member of the RPS Early Careers Pharmacist Advisory Group
After the celebrations that accompany finally registering as a pharmacist comes the reality of entering the pharmacy profession and building a career from that moment onwards. Whilst this is exciting and rewarding for many, the early stage of your career can also be confusing, daunting and present unexpected hurdles, which is why I joined the Early Careers Pharmacist Advisory Group (ECPAG) to support my peers.
Beginning my pharmacy career
I completed my MPharm in 2017 before spending my pre-registration year in hospital pharmacy. From there, I took on the role as a rotational clinical pharmacist in a busy hospital trust and undertook several ward-based rotations as well as spending time in the aseptic manufacturing suite. I developed the core skills I had learnt during my pre-registration year, whilst applying and building on my clinical knowledge, particularly in new specialisations Despite being a rewarding job, during my aseptic rotation I rekindled my interest in formulation science, prompting me to consider a more science-focused career.
In 2019, when the opportunity of studying for a lab-based PhD arose I decided to accept the offer. My research focuses on designing and manufacturing microneedles for the transdermal delivery of insulin, which have the potential for more convenient and painless drug delivery compared to current hypodermic injections. Day-to-day, I spend most of my time in the lab but also analyse data, write reports and papers, teach other researchers about the techniques I use and read recent publications within the field. I have found that having roots as a pharmacist reminds me of the broader context of my research and keeps my work patient-centred.
I was keen to join the ECPAG to share opinions, advice and discuss a range of topics based on my own experience as an early career pharmacist who has worked in multiple sectors.
What is the Early Career Pharmacist Advisory Group?
The ECPAG is made up of pharmacists with a range of expertise, experiences and job roles, with the aim of reflecting the needs and opinion of all early career pharmacists relating to professional development, practice support and advocacy.
Since being founded in 2020, the ECPAG has met regularly to discuss a range of topics including the core advanced curriculum consultation, equality, diversity and inclusivity, the fitness to practice consultation and the independent prescribing policy, all of which have resulted in hearty discussion. Frequently, we are given the opportunity to further collaborate on projects and offer feedback.
Over the next few months, the ECPAG hope to improve their visibility to early career pharmacists, communicating what we do and how we represent a significant proportion of the pharmacist workforce.
I would urge all early career pharmacists, from all sectors, to access the support offered by RPS, including mentoring and career support, particularly during your early career and engage with RPS to improve our profession for future generations of pharmacists who will follow in your shoes. Keep an eye out for opportunities to voice your opinions and updates from the ECPAG (through the RPS website and on social media).
Find out more about the Early Careers Pharmacist Advisory Group and how to access our Career and Mentoring support.