Chris Threapleton

Specialty Registrar in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and General Internal Medicine at St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Why did you train in clinical pharmacology?

I have always been fascinated by the interplay between psychosocial issues and long term health.  This began in my Psychology BSc and continued into medical school and beyond.  After Core Medical Training, I applied for a teaching fellow position in clinical pharmacology.  I absolutely loved it.  Clinical pharmacology is the perfect combination of clinical work, research and education.  I taught pharmacology and prescribing skills to medical students, undertook several systematic reviews and started research in polypharmacy, a big interest of mine.  During this time, I completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare and Biomedical Education.  After a couple of years as a fellow I applied to Higher Speciality Training in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and I have never looked back. 

What is a typical week for you?

Education remains a key part of my job.  I was lucky to be able to be a core member of the team creating the very first undergraduate Clinical Pharmacology BSc in the UK.   I currently hold a position as an Honorary Lecturer and Module Leader.  I typically spend a couple of days a week developing curriculum and assessments, teaching and seeing personal tutees. 
My research into polypharmacy continues.  My team has just started a weekly polypharmacy clinic and I am planning how best to analyse the effectiveness of this. 
I am the Chair of the Registrar Sub-Committee at the BPS.  In a typical week, I might have a committee meeting, provide input into national policy or discuss approaches to encourage people to join this exciting (and growing) specialty.
I also work in acute medicine as a medical registrar.  I work 1 in 6 weekends and about one evening a week.  I love diving back into general medicine and this provides a refreshing contrast to my academic work.

What’s the best thing about training in clinical pharmacology? 

I’m going to cheat and talk about three things!

  1. I love how much autonomy I have in my day to day work.  I set my own work pattern and my own priorities.  Whilst this requires a lot of organising, which can be stressful, it allows me flexibility to seize opportunities that might not be possible in more traditional registrar jobs.  There is a core set of key skills within the specialty, but you are encouraged to pursue what interests you and develop your own portfolio career.
  2. This specialty has strong roots in academia – you are very well supported to do research and obtain postgraduate qualifications, such as Masters and PhDs.  I love how my research informs my clinical work, which, in turn, informs my research. 
  3. Clinical pharmacology is a small specialty.  There are lots of opportunities to meet and get to know each other.  No-one should feel like a stranger – everyone has the opportunity to have their voice heard and influence change.