“Hi there, my name is Rachel and I am a pharmacist calling you back from NHS 111”
The number one question I get asked is ‘how did you get into the ambulance service?’ And…’what do you do?’
After joining general practice via an NHS pilot scheme aimed at supporting the shortage of GPs, I realised that I am a pharmacist that enjoys new challenges and sectors.
In fact a friend of mine said to me recently that I seem to like pilot schemes. I think he was right.
I had been trying to break into out of hours for a while via agencies. My background in acute presentations in general practice put a demand on the boundaries of my knowledge and experience in a way that I found interesting and exciting.
So when the advert for this role came up online, I jumped at the chance, having no idea what I was saying yes to. I’m glad I did
The pharmacist role is evolving and for me it is about grabbing weird and wonderful opportunities that come my way and often figuring out if I like it afterwards.
Historically, pharmacists have always played a triage role in community often referring and signposting patients on to a GP or elsewhere if their symptoms are more severe.
Working in General Practice alongside my IUC role helps me see what happens on both sides, and i now have an understanding as to why patients are sometimes referred to a GP from 111 for further assessment.
IUC is very much about asking the right questions, the only major differences between my role here and assessing minor illnesses in general practice is that I am triaging not diagnosing. This means that you are ruling out any red flags. The moment you cannot rule something out, is the point at which you refer to a service provider who can. Also, you are ‘blindfolded’ while you do it because it is all over the phone. You cannot see the patient.
It is an incredibly interesting time to be a pharmacist, I would encourage any new and experienced pharmacists to keep an open mind and go with the flow. The industry is evolving in my opinion and it is worth seeing where it will take you.
Rachel Francis-Nweke is a Clinical Prescribing Pharmacist working across
GP practices in Kent and as a Clinical Assessment Service Pharmacist with The Ambulance Service.
During her time as a pharmacist, Rachel has developed a passion for educating patients on direct causes and consequences of some of the long term health conditions seen in general practice within her blog at www.rachelfrancishealthdiaries.com. She has also gained insight into common minor illnesses within her pharmacist role at The Ambulance Service.
Find her at www.rachelfrancishealthdiaries.com and also:-
Twitter – @imrachelfrancis
FB – Rachel Francis Health Diaries
Image source: NHS England