What's it like to be a teacher-practitioner?

Published: 21 Feb 2009

Scott Dalgliesh of Boots:

"I became a teacher-practitioner after working for Boots for about six or seven years. For a few years I worked as a relief pharmacist, so I gained experience in a range of different stores – from the very large stores to the small community pharmacies.

I always wanted to get back into a training and development role. I applied to cover this position because the teacher-practitioner was going on maternity leave. I was quite fortunate, because permanent teacher-practitioner positions don’t come up often.

I typically spend two days a week at the University of Bradford, generally teaching pharmacy practice and pharmacy law in seminars and workshops. These usually involve prescription problem solving with students; they are given prescriptions with legal difficulties and clinical issues, and we work through them as they will be expected to do in practice.

I also work on module administration and leadership with another teacher-practitioner. We update the material based on feedback from students and how we feel it’s gone. We write the questions and the cases that we use, and we write the exam and do all the marking at the end of the year.

I can get involved in other classes – it depends on what’s happening and what I’m needed to do. The main areas are patient counselling, consultation skills, medicines management and pharmaceutical care.

The rest of the week is spent in the mix of things at Boots. I support the Boots pre-registration programme in my area and run staff training programmes.

I like the variety of my role at university and watching people progress. You see students in their first and second years, then as summer students or pre-regs, and finally just before they go on the register. For me, the best part is working with a range of people, and seeing people move on and be successful.

The pace of life is a little bit different; if you like high pressure and high energy you can get that in a university, but you spend more time thinking of the background and the development of things.

The other thing is that results are less immediately visible. You can do a great job, but you only see it over the course of a year, degree or a pre-reg year.

The challenge is that you need to be quite adept at juggling the different aspects of your role. You need to be good at time management and organisation to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time. You also need to be organised in advance to think about exams at the end of the year.

I think the good thing about teacher-practitioners is that we are current. We are pharmacists in practice, so we are in a position not only to give students the current information but also to give them context.

We can give examples of cases we’ve seen in practice and talk to the students about how the role of community pharmacy has changed. And because we can give them the practical application of what they’re being taught, and talk to them about what we’ve done, they can appreciate the impact."

Becoming a teacher-practitioner

What skills do I need?

  • Good experience of the community pharmacy environment. A teacher-practitioner role is not a job for a newly qualified pharmacist; you need an understanding of what goes on at different stages.
  • Some kind of postgraduate qualification, or the desire to get one. Most teacher-practitioners have a clinical diploma or are working towards one.

What’s the pay like?

You’ll probably get paid the equivalent of your seniority within your company/pharmacy.

Any tips to get me started?

  • Volunteer for training groups, offer to help out at events and keep up to date with changes in practice.
  • Tell your employer you’re interested. People aren’t psychic, they need to know who wants which role.

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