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Clinical Pharmacology Month – get involved

Published: 19 Jun 2017
Category:
By Lee Page

Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (CPT) is the only medical specialty in the NHS focusing on the safe, successful and cost-effective use of medicines. This means clinical pharmacologists play a crucial role in managing our medicines, refining how they are used today and developing the pioneering medicines of tomorrow. This can take clinical pharmacologists on diverse career paths, working, for example, in the NHS, regulatory bodies, clinical trials units, universities or the pharmaceutical industry.

What is Clinical Pharmacology Month?

The Society is organising the first ever Clinical Pharmacology Month, to take place in October 2017. We invite you to help us celebrate and raise awareness of the Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (CPT) specialty.

Many clinical pharmacologists, trainees and others working with the specialty have already volunteered to run local activities to raise awareness of CPT. Members plan to publish articles and blogs and run lectures, careers fairs and even Grand Rounds. But it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you get involved – all we ask is that you target medical students, junior doctors or other allied healthcare professionals by promoting the work done by clinical pharmacologists to improve the health of the nation. By raising awareness, we aim to attract more people to the specialty. So tell us about your plans so that we can expand our community and increase our reach.

Why is the Society running Clinical Pharmacology Month?

There are currently only 72 clinical pharmacologists in the UK, making it a small specialty. Despite this, CPT continues to be at the very forefront of medicines management, leading this approach to healthcare provision internationally. It has never been more important to have healthcare professionals with these skills, especially as people are living longer and with multiple comorbidities. In addition, delivering accelerated access to new medicines has increased the demand for leaders in translational medicine. Training enough physicians with the skills of a clinical pharmacologist has become a recognised priority by many leading societies and organisations.

The British Pharmacological Society is targeting an increase of 78 clinical pharmacologists in the UK to reach a target of 150 by 2025. We need your help to raise awareness of the speciality and help attract high quality junior doctors to clinical pharmacology.

Part of the problem currently is that many medical students are unaware of the specialty, so first and foremost there is a need to raise awareness. I recently visited a medical school to interview medical students about CPT and its low career visibility. One student pointed out that there are no clinical pharmacology wards in hospitals. It is also true that many medical schools use an organ-based curriculum, with pharmacology interwoven through it. Without commenting on the educational merit of that approach, it certainly does little to improve the visibility of the specialty, “buried” as it is within other studies.

We therefore want to do all we can to help clinical pharmacologists share their interests, research and experiences under the banner of Clinical Pharmacology Month to better connect people and increase awareness.

What’s the plan?

The Society plans to promote the diverse world of clinical pharmacology by dedicating each week in October to a different area where the specialty has a great impact: beginning with CPT in the NHS before moving on to industry (first-in-man studies), medicine regulation, and finally education (prescribing skills).

 

We have developed a number of activities for the month, including:

  • Medical student competition (led by our Specialty Registrars Advisory Group) –submit an abstract related to clinical pharmacology and win a cash prize

  • “Faces of clinical pharmacology” – send us a case study about you and your role about your role, which we will publish on the website  
  • Grand Rounds – an important teaching tool within hospitals, these present interesting clinical problems in medicine and offer solutions for the benefit of certain patient groups

You can find full details of all this and more in the Clinical Pharmacology section of the Society website: www.bps.ac.uk/october.

We also want to hear your own ideas too: if you have an idea to run something in your local area about a clinical pharmacology topic you are passionate about, please let us know by emailing me at lee.page@bps.ac.uk. Anything from poisoning to drug development, polypharmacy or biomarker studies. Whatever you do, no matter how big or small, please get in touch with us so that together we can make October 2017 the time to share our stories.

 

Here are some examples of what’s already being planned, to inspire your own thinking.

Professor Emma Baker has Grand Rounds as the focus of her Clinical Pharmacology Month activities:

At St George’s we see Clinical Pharmacology Month in October as a fantastic opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation of clinical pharmacologists. Our theme will be ‘what have clinical pharmacologists ever done for us?’, echoing the famous Monty Python question ‘what have the Romans ever done for us?’ In week one, a Grand Round based on clinical cases of adverse drug reactions and polypharmacy will showcase the versatility of the specialty. In week two, medical students will present their entries to the abstract competition as oral presentations and listen to a keynote speaker talk about careers in clinical pharmacology. In week three, a public engagement event will showcase the contribution clinical pharmacology makes to society. Around these main events we are planning satellite activities including a promotional stall, newsletter articles, and clinical pharmacology sessions in foundation and core medical training programmes.

Professor Emma Baker, St George’s, University of London – Deputy Chair of the Clinical Committee

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed sees Clinical Pharmacology Month as a time to highlight several important areas in which CPT consultants contribute:

Clinical pharmacology contributes widely to the NHS. We provide excellent clinical care, and this is going to become increasingly important with an ageing population admitted to our hospitals with comorbidities and on multiple drugs. Clinical pharmacologists have been trained to handle this challenge. Clinical pharmacologists are highly sought after in industry and regulatory bodies, both as employees and advisors. I do not know any clinical pharmacologist that is under-employed. As a clinical pharmacologist, I do something different every day, which is really exciting. It is important we highlight how important clinical pharmacology is to the wider NHS.

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, University of Liverpool – Chair of the Clinical Committee

Dr Emma Morrison shares her plans for Clinical Pharmacology Month:

The Specialty Registrar-led, medical student competition is only a small part of a larger set of planned activities I will be involved in during Clinical Pharmacology Month. Within the University of Edinburgh, we have a variety of events planned to raise visibility and promote the specialty to doctors at all stages of training. Clinical pharmacologists are presenting at Grand Rounds in our two largest hospitals, highlighting local expertise in education and poisoning. As a department, we are also providing targeted plenaries and workshops for foundation and core medical trainees, to draw attention to clinical pharmacology as a key part of their core skill set. Finally, we are engaging with primary care and emphasising the role of clinical pharmacologists in the NHS, via a series of articles in our regional prescribing bulletin. Through these activities, we aim to highlight how clinical pharmacology plays a role in all medical careers and is an inspiring specialty in which to forge a career.

Dr Emma Morrison, University of Edinburgh – Chair of the Specialty Registrar Advisory Group

How to get involved

To find out more visit www.bps.ac.uk/october. If you want to get involved, we would love to hear from you. If you need support in advance with advertising or would be prepared to share feedback afterwards please contact me at lee.page@bps.ac.uk or tweet us @BritPharmSoc

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