RPS Responsible Pharmacist Symposium 26/01/2012


Jane and I were invited to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in London to attend a symposium about the responsible pharmacist regulations. It was organised by Martin Astbury (President of the RPS) and his colleagues and chaired by Catherine Duggan, Director of Professional Development and Support at the RPS. Both Jane and I were very excited to be invited and the day was even more interesting than the programme had promised. Originally billed as a discussion of the responsible pharmacist regulations it quickly led into discussions about the idea of developing a just culture in pharmacy.

In proposing this idea Martin Astbury and Catherine Duggan are breaking new ground in pharmacy practice as discussions in the literature have focused on a more general definition of safety culture. They also invited representatives from other industries e.g. Sean Parker from the Civil Aviation Authority to talk about how the just culture works in the aviation industry. Sean spoke about how the aerospace industry has been working towards a “just culture” and about their successes and failures in terms of safety management. This was very exciting for Jane and I as our mental workload research is based on research from the aerospace industry and we feel that there is a lot of ideas and measures that can be applied in pharmacy practice. What a relief to know that we have been working along the correct lines the last couple of years and that the professional body as a whole is now also considering what can be learnt from this industry.

For me, as a young researcher to be able to meet so many big names in the pharmacy practice world was very exciting. I have yet to perfect my networking skills so I was also very nervous the whole day, but the other conference delegates kindly listened to my ideas and thoughts when we broke up into small groups to discuss how a just culture could work for pharmacy. There were many great view points and it was clear that each sector of pharmacy perceived different barriers to the development of this culture. The overall biggest one was how pharmacy sits within the wider health care services, and is it possible for pharmacy to develop a new culture when they are also embedded in the culture of the NHS and their respective trusts, or communities?

Overall for me, I was just thrilled to be invited to the very first discussion and meeting about this potential shift in pharmacy culture, especially as it fits so nicely with our research. There will be a lot more work and discussion within the profession before anything is decided or done, so I will keep updating this page with news and information as I get it.


Outside the box: inside pharmacy


Yesterday I presented with my supervisor at the Outside the box: inside pharmacy conference in Bristol. It was aimed at pharmacists from the south west of the UK and is about fostering connections between difference disciplines of pharmacists, and building stronger networks in the local areas. My supervisor and I were lucky to be invited as conference delegates were limited to those who were members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Anyway I had the most amazing day, meeting so many inspiring pharmacists and pharmacy students. After one talk I was on the verge of re-training to become a pharmacist as the speaker gave a talk about what exciting times there were ahead for those in the pharmacy profession!

Anyway I was asked to present about the theory behind my research. I called the talk brain errors (which explains the photo above) and spent some time explaining how the way our brains work can lead us to make certain types of errors. It was perhaps the most nerve-wracking and difficult talk I have given so far in my career. Firstly I was worried that I wasn’t going to do the concepts I was talking about justice or explain them well enough. They are fairly straightforward, but quite abstract and I only had a 20 minute slot to outline them and how that might all relate back to dispensing errors. Plus I had to work hard to pitch it at the right level – i.e. for people who had never come across psychology theories before. However, I think most of my nerves were down this was the first time I had presented in front of a non-academic & 100% pharmacy audience and as they will be the key audience for my results when I have them, it was so important to me that they thought my rationale and the theories I was using were relevant. The talk was a big deal for my supervisor as well who has been trying to promote the role of psychologists within this field for many years. So we both felt we had a lot riding on our talks.

I think we sold it though. We were asked lots of questions afterwards about the theory and other people said they would be interested in hearing more – taking part in the research – or – most exciting doing some research in collaboration with us. I must not get my hopes up too soon, but that is the first time anyone has approached “little old me” and said I would love to work with you on a project related to this.

So we made some great contacts, and best of all, because some of the students at our University attended this conference, they got in touch afterwards and asked if they could take part in my study. Every time someone says they want to take part I get very excited – one participant closer to my goal, but also that is one more person that thinks my research is worth giving their time to. Hooray! The pace is starting to pick up now with the research so I am sure my updates are going to be much more frequent.

Presenting at the outside the box inside pharmacy conference (Photo credits to Dr Philip Rogers)

Future science leaders 2011

A few weeks ago I went to a conference at the University of Oxford – called the future science leaders conference 2011 and it was one of the main reasons that I started writing a blog. The conference was aimed at early career researchers (so PhD students and post-doc researchers) working in any aspect of science. There were a range of presentations but one was about networking and really getting your work and yourself known and out there. This was followed by an after dinner talk by nobel laureate William D Phillips who talked about his surprise that many researchers were fearful of talking about their research and ideas just in case someone else decided to jump in and use them or do the same before you managed to finish and publish the work.

I now know that this fear of being gazumped harks back to the days when Watson and Crick received the nobel prize for the discovery of the DNA double helix. Their theory was based on Rosalind Franklin’s data and findings and she had also been about to publish this idea but they got there first. Sadly and this was not Watson & Crick’s fault, the nobel prize was also awarded to W&C after Rosalind Franklin died and at the time the Nobel prize committees did not award the prize to dead researchers (Glynn, 2008).  I learnt all this after the conference when I was telling my supervisor about Prof Phillip’s ideas on being open about your research ideas. Prof William’s talk became even more interesting when I heard the Franklin, Watson and Crick story because the conference was funded by a the Rosalind Franklin award (from the Royal Society). I wonder what Rosalind Franklin herself would say about being open about one’s research. Prof Phillip’s idea was that one should publish and talk and write about the good and bad things about one’s research what worked, what didn’t because even if it helps another research team – this furthers your research field, moves it on, leaving you to get on with bigger and better things, the faster the field develops the faster your work does too.

I agree with him.. So I am now writing this blog although I know I haven’t put my ideas out there yet as I just don’t know where to start (and I am still a teensy bit apprehensive – one step at a time)!

 Glyn, J. (2008). Rosalind Franklin: 50 years on. Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 62(2), 253-255. doi: 10.1098/rsnr.2007.0052

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