How ESCP special interest groups forge worldwide links

Written by | 11 Aug 2023 | 'In Discussion With'

ESCP is a dynamic organisation that responds to the needs of its members and in doing so it has undertaken a number of key developments in recent years, including the introduction of regular webinars and a major overhaul of its special interest group, says ESCP President, Professor Derek Stewart.

“Historically, we were known for our events, which are world-leading events, but we wanted to back that up with a lot more benefits and offerings for our members and not just be known for these two annual events”, says Professor Stewart. With this in mind, a series of changes has been made.

The communication strategy has been critical for the organisation’s development and recently the newsletter has been updated and refreshed. This is now sent not only to members but also to non-members who have attended an ESCP in recent years. The organisation is also very active on social media with regular posts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

The Covid-19 pandemic prompted some important changes. “We put our two main yearly events online and then brought in a series of webinars to almost supplement that”, says Professor Stewart

There was also a major review of Special Interest Groups. “We paused them ….. we felt that we were maybe too much ‘top-down’, that it was the committee members deciding special interest groups and not our rank members so we’ve changed that and have relaunched those. …. One really key thing that we’re proud of is our Young Members Special Interest Group which is really there to support developing practice. It’s not really defined in terms of age – anybody can join it – but it’s looking at those early career practitioners and how we support those”, he says.

Another important initiative is forging links with national clinical pharmacy societies and signing off memoranda of understanding about how the organisations can work together and support each other. “We offer member discounts for those societies that sign one of these agreements with us, so we’re actually reaching out not just at an individual level but thinking about how to support societies [so that] they support us as well”, explains Professor Stewart.

Special Interest Groups

The overhaul of special interest groups has resulted in a major change of thinking about what they are for and how they operate. After due consideration by the General Committee and the Special Interest Group Council a blueprint or template was developed that set out how to set up, run and even dissolve a special interest group. The latter was important because “a special interest group might be developed for a particular issue and once the members feel that they’ve developed everything within that issue, it doesn’t need to continue”, he says.

The first of the new groups is a Deprescribing Special Interest Group. “We are partnering with some of the big, international deprescribing groups, particularly in Canada and Australia around that” he adds.

“The next one that come along was mental health – and it’s operating in a very different way. They’ve just done a piece of work which is being submitted to the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy which is scoping clinical pharmacy mental health …. structures and processes [in several] countries within Europe”, explains Professor Stewart.

The young members’ special interest group (Young ESCP) plans to serve the needs of clinical pharmacists at an early stage in their careers and could build on some of the work already done by ESCP. “In the past few years, we’ve delivered some webinars for early career people …… in terms of research methods, basic statistics, how do you write a research question? how do you actually get going?…… Sometimes …. it’s a bit daunting – you see these really high-functioning clinical people and you think, ‘How do I get to that to that level?’ “, he says.

ESCP special interest groups are only open to member of ESCP. Details of the groups and how to join them are available on the ESCP website.


About Derek Stewart

Derek Stewart PgCert, BSc (1st), MSc, PhD, FRPharmS, FFRPS is Professor of Clinical Pharmacy and Practice, Qatar University. He is also visiting professor at Robert Gordon University in Scotland and at the Royal College of surgeons of Ireland. In addition, he is President of the European Society of clinical Pharmacy and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy.


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