13-14 OCTOBER 2024

04 Oct 2021



"The trouble with life is that all aspects of it continue to change and evolve in a confusing, chaotic but often beautiful way.

Despite having a pre-conception that life within a profession would be different to wider society, somewhat surprisingly, it is similar in so many ways.

And what a period of recent history we continue to live through. Every single one of us has been touched by the maelstrom that continues around us. Perhaps Pharmacy in Practice should have been in there getting closer to the pharmacy practice action. Highlighting bravery, calling out injustice against our pharmacy peers or perhaps being first to the pass with a shouty, controversial headline.

Well maybe. Or maybe not.

I thought I had reached the point in my career where frankly I didn’t care what other people thought.

That has been tested recently and if I’m honest I have self-censored for fear of offending.

Politeness, decorum and good manners were drummed into me as a youngster so the thought of possibly contributing to this chaotic environment we find ourselves in just didn’t sit well with me.

So I stopped.

I have always prided myself on being able to explore, understand and empathise with as many perspectives of an argument as possible all with a focus on trying to help folk articulate important issues, thought or ideas. In recent times this open-minded approach to matters of life, and in our case pharmacy, has become very difficult.

Some folk are just so angry at the moment and are certainly gunning for a fight.

Regardless of how benign the topic is you can be sure that the emboldened vocal minority will emerge and express outrage. Each time this happens the moderate dial moves a little bit more.

Pharmacist vs pharmacy technician.

Prescriber vs non-prescriber.

Manager vs employee.

Locum pharmacist vs contractor.

‘X’ representative body vs ‘Y’ representative body.

The list goes on…

Find your tribe, pick your fight and get your outrage on in your favourite social media echo chamber.

The battle lines have been drawn and the conflicts continue unabated. And these fights are designed to grab your attention. Draw you in and distort your thinking.

I must admit that in the past I have on occasion fallen into this vortex of negativity and outrage. I wonder have others felt the same.

My hope is that there are many more people like me who do not want to engage in such quarrels but do welcome open, honest and evidence-based debate.

‘The scientific profession’ said every pharmacy leader ever.

Most pharmacists go to work to do the very best they can for the people they care for.

And most of the time this doesn’t involve any high-level fancy pharmacy practice. In my experience care, compassion, empathy, common sense and hard work will take you far. Not giving up during your career is probably the most important skill of all.

Anyway, I came here to tell you that this internal bickering is becoming really boring. You don’t need to be alert to injustice the whole time and open debate is to be welcomed.

The future leaders of our profession will step back into the game, emerging from their self-censored positions and present a vision of what it means to be a pharmacist.

I honestly believe many are staying quiet at the moment.

It must be a tremendous act of political gymnastics to make it all the way to the top in pharmacy. Securing the position of Chief Pharmaceutical Officer is an incredible achievement but I’m not sure what skills it demonstrates. I know enough of the workings behind the scenes to consciously incompetently have a view on that.

The Chief Pharmaceutical Officer's in Scotland and England have one hell of a job to unite all corners of the pharmacy profession.

It is my hope that these leaders don’t get dragged into trying to please the various tribes in pharmacy but instead presents a compelling vision of where we all fit and where we need to go.

We need some independent thought and a vision that we can all get behind.

I hope they use their influence to calm the anger and bring the majority together around a common goal.

Or maybe we will all just have another fight."

Johnathan Laird is a non-award winning pharmacist with absolutely no formal leadership training and is therefore unqualified to advise on such matters.


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