How Do We Support Our Clinical Pharmacists In Their First Crucial Months?


With experience of recruitment and interviewing, some of the questions I am often asked by general practices are: “How do we find a pharmacist who will understand our practice needs, and how do we support them for the first crucial months?”

Recruiting directly and employing your own pharmacist allows the practice to design and create a role that specifically meets the needs of their patients. Job descriptions and adverts can be bespoke and tailored, crafted to attract the right candidate, with the right behaviours and attributes to seamlessly fit into an existing team and the culture of the practice. Every practice is unique, and every pharmacist is unique, too. Finding the right candidate is extremely important.

Recognition and job satisfaction are important to us all, especially when we join a new team. We want to feel like we are adding value to our new team, contributing successfully and developing our skills.

Beginning the journey

Clinical Pharmacists regularly express that: “I want to be part of a team and utilise my specialist skills, but I also want to be able to work with the practice and support them with their priorities.” In my experience it’s essential to ensure that Clinical Pharmacists are provided with regular feedback as to their performance, so setting clear measures and objectives at the beginning of their journey is important for everyone.

If practices rush to recruit and appoint Pharmacists without a clear plan, this can result in new recruits feeling isolated, disengaged and ultimately can lead to their choice to leave the practice. As part of the Clinical Pharmacist Bridging Programme, we discuss training and development needs from day one and work with the Pharmacist and the wider practice team to develop mutual understanding of their role, maximising their skills and supporting their career development.

Supporting you on the road to success

So, where does a practice start – and particularly when time is limited? To many practices these are new roles and there may not be anyone equipped with the knowledge and skills to supervise new recruits.

At OneMedical Group, we guide practices through the recruitment process. We support practices to advertise, shortlist and appoint candidates – but our support doesn’t stop there. We then continue to offer weekly and monthly peer-to-peer support for newly recruited pharmacists as part of our Clinical Pharmacist Bridging Programme. The programme is so much more than the completion of learning materials and begins well before day one of the new recruit starting their role. It is important that support measures have been embedded and questions around induction, a typical day, breaks and time for self-directed study have all been worked through.

A team of experts

Ruby Sandhu and Dominika Froehlich-Jeziorek have extensive experience of supporting Pharmacists in general practice. As part of the Clinical Pharmacist Bridging Programme, they have offered peer-to-peer support to newly recruited pharmacists, using Microsoft Teams. Peer support is essential in the first six months, creating a feeling of psychological safety, and providing people with a safe place to ask questions and learn.

Feedback from practice partners involved so far is overwhelmingly positive and our support was seen as crucial. GPs have said that they often asked our Clinical Pharmacist to provide checks, and the new recruits have valued this support too. Feedback from a GP Supervisor in a practice where we delivered the Programme said: “There is also support for GPs who are supporting the new pharmacist recruits, not only with the learning materials but with any support with objective setting, meeting planning or offering feedback.”

Reflecting on practice

The Bridging Programme facilitates regular three-way monthly discussions between a Senior Clinical Pharmacist, and a newly recruited Clinical Pharmacist and their GP Supervisor. The Programme also includes a virtual clinical pharmacy networking event. Last year’s event was themed ‘Reflections and Inspirations’, which brings together undergraduate students, lecturers and academics to share best practice, knowledge and celebrate success. It is essential that the support and networking continues as part of working in general practice. Early career pharmacist and undergraduate students were able to discuss and share not only clinical questions but also coping strategies when working in a new environment. We received some fabulous feedback from everyone invited and our aim is to repeat the networking and continue to extend invitations to pharmacy students.

Creating ambassadors

In conclusion, there is a significant amount of planning involved prior to the recruitment of a Clinical Pharmacist. When it does come to recruitment it’s important to consider not just the clinical skills and qualifications of a candidates, but their behaviours, drivers and career ambitions, too. Above all, take the time to nurture and support your new recruit. Treat them well and they will develop and grow with you as a practice, acting as an advocate and ambassador for your team.

Find out more about our Clinical Pharmacists Bridging Programme by Clicking the following  link – Clinical Pharmacist Support for PCNs

Reema Caddies – Head Pharmacist OneMedical Group

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