Case study

Clinical pharmacist — Daniel Freeman

Daniel studied for a Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) at Cardiff University. He's now a clinical pharmacist working in both hospital and community settings. Learn more about his role

What degree did you study and where?

I started my journey at Cardiff University where I spent four years working towards my goal of becoming a pharmacist. I graduated in 2019 with a Master of Pharmacy degree from Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. In 2021 I decided to further my studies and enrolled onto a Postgraduate Certificate in Leadership in Health and Social Care at the College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences within the University of Glasgow. I am now continuing my studies at Cardiff University, undertaking their Clinically Enhanced Pharmacist Independent Prescribing course.

Why did you decide on a career in pharmacy?

Pharmacy is a profession which encompasses all of my career and personal aspirations. My desire to pursue this vocation stemmed from my keen interest in all aspects of science, particularly chemistry and biology. My goal is to be successful in making a difference to people's lives from the grassroots level.

How did you get your job?

During my first year at university, I noticed an advertisement for a pharmacy counter assistant in the shop window of a newsagents I worked in. I decided to apply for the position as I wished to work in a community pharmacy and because I knew I would enjoy a patient-facing role. I continued doing both jobs throughout my university experience and I am fortunate to still be working at the local independent community pharmacy to this day. I have developed close relationships with my colleagues and patients within this tight-knit community.

What's a typical working day like?

I begin my day working in a private hospital. I carry out a ward round with the ward doctor and we discuss and make decisions about the management of patient care. We consider the patients treatment plan and I make up the take-home medicines. We ensure the patient knows what each medicine is for, as well as how and when to take them. The pharmacy team is also responsible for the supply and monitoring of all medicines used in the hospital, including the ward, theatre and outpatient department.

In the afternoon I am based in an independent community pharmacy. I regularly carry out the sore throat test and treat service where I supply a patient with antibiotics if clinically required. In addition, for patients that require free NHS advice and treatment, the common ailments service offers an alternative to making an appointment with the GP. The service is available for 26 different ailments including conditions such as bacterial conjunctivitis, hayfever and indigestion. The pharmacy also offers vaccinations such as flu jabs, COVID vaccines and travel vaccinations, as well as independent prescribing clinics for a range of conditions including urinary tract infections.

It is enjoyable to be able to work in two different pharmacy settings and this has helped me to further my knowledge, experience and critical thinking. I want my work to have an impact and make a difference to patients' lives in every aspect, which has led to me advancing into a split sector setting.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

The Master of Pharmacy degree was designed to provide the knowledge, skills and experience needed to practise as a pharmacist and is therefore very relevant to my current job role.

'The role of the pharmacist in professional practice' module was more relevant to my current career when compared to the 'Organic chemistry' lectures. However, the 'Drug design and drug disposition' module would be very relevant to pharmacists working in industry and leading clinical trials.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy providing patient-centred care and working directly with members of the community. I strive to always provide the best service possible and help patients to improve their own personal health and wellbeing.

I also enjoy continually developing my professional knowledge and being able to see first hand the effective use of medicines when treating or managing conditions.

What three skills are needed for a career in pharmacy?

  • Interpersonal skills are essential when conversing with patients, colleagues and other healthcare professionals.
  • Problem solving skills are important to be able to overcome certain obstacles and help pharmacists use their professional judgement to make clinical decisions when working in a fast paced environment.
  • Leadership skills are important as pharmacists should be responsible for their own practice and demonstrate leadership to their colleagues.

What are your career ambitions?

I aspire to continually expand my knowledge and progress within the pharmacy sector. I plan to become more involved in all aspects of pharmacy and give pharmacists a voice, through promoting the profession. I would also like to give aspiring pharmacists help and advice to support them throughout their studies.

Are you a member of a professional body?

I am registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council as this is necessary to practise as a pharmacist in Wales, Scotland and England. In addition, I am a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society who are an immensely useful and supportive organisation that strive to ensure pharmacists are well represented, which in turn increases the quality of patient care.

Tell us about three issues affecting the sector today.

  • Medication shortages - commonly used medicines such as antibiotics are out of stock with the manufacturers. This has caused a huge strain on the pharmacy sector and has been worrying for patients trying to get hold of certain important medicines. Several factors are contributing to this issue such as increased infections, supply chain disruptions, inflation and regulations.
  • Communication with other healthcare professionals - pharmacists are responsible for patient care and they clinically check prescriptions, diagnose minor ailments and refer patients onto other healthcare professionals when needed. For example, if a pharmacist identifies an error on a patient's prescription, they need to contact the prescriber to query the issue and get the prescription amended. However, while pharmacists understand the strain on all healthcare sectors, it is still difficult to get into contact with prescribers to rectify these issues.
  • Medicine prices - many pharmacies are facing a critical situation when trying to obtain medicines urgently for patients. There is a lot of uncertainty in regard to the expected reimbursement prices when ordering certain medicines. As a result, it means that pharmacies are facing significant financial risks.

What advice can you give to other aspiring pharmacists?

  • Work hard throughout your education as this is important in order to achieve your goals. Hard work and perseverance will allow you to reap the rewards later in life.
  • Be willing to expand out of your comfort zone as this will provide you with more opportunities going forward.
  • Embrace new challenges, enjoy your studies and keep positive, you can do whatever you put your mind to.

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