Reasons to be a respiratory pharmacist
Pharmacists bring a special and distinctive set of skills to the care of people with asthma and it is an area that can offer a stimulating and rewarding career and a role that is much valued by patients, says Dr Anna Murphy.
Asked if there is a danger that pharmacists could become the low-budget alternative to doctors Dr Murphy says, “I am not a doctor; I have … never really wanted to be a doctor; I’m very proud to be a pharmacist and I believe that my strength to the multidisciplinary team is not as a little mini-registrar or a junior doctor, it’s a pharmacist because what I bring to that team is very different”. Her approach to assessing and prescribing for a patient is different. Although there is some overlap, the pharmacist’s perspective is different and useful to the MDT, she says.
Having worked in respiratory medicine for 25 years now, Dr Murphy believes it is an area that offers a lot of opportunities for pharmacists. Moreover, the skills that someone develops as a respiratory specialist pharmacist are transferable across a wide range of pharmacy practice settings. “Wherever you wish to work as a pharmacist your skills that you develop as a respiratory pharmacist will work across the patient pathway. I think that’s important – we should be following that patient and utilising our skills that way…. Also, remember, respiratory is not just asthma and COPD, ….. there [are] over 200 different interstitial lung diseases – you’ve got cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, pulmonary diseases [such as] pulmonary embolism and lung cancer so there’s lots of different areas that you can get involved in”, she explains.
In conclusion Dr Murphy says: Finally, I find respiratory clinicians and the MDT extremely welcoming [to] the role of the pharmacist… I think that [they are] generally very nice people to work with and also there is great support nationally [from] bodies like the British Thoracic Society [and] the Primary Care Respiratory Society……… I think [at] the end of the day our roles as pharmacists are valued by the clinicians and the rest of the MDT but, you know what is important to me – I think our role is extremely valued by our patients”.