Nailing your General Practice Pharmacist Interview

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Interview Checklist

1. Research the Practice
2. Review Your CV
3. Understand Current General Practice Issues
4. Prepare for Clinical Scenarios
5. Emphasize Your Communication Skills
6. Reflect on Continued Professional Development
7. Prepare Questions to Ask

Essential Tips for Interview Success

Are you preparing for a general practice interview? Congratulations! This is a crucial step towards entering the world of primary care. When I reminisce about the experience of my first GP pharmacist interview many years ago, I can recall the excitement as I embarked on a new chapter of my professional journey. Over the last 9 years, I have left no stone unturned in my quest to acquire a comprehensive understanding of the inner workings of GP practice. To help you stand out from the rest, I have compiled a list of essential tips that will enable you to ace your general practice interview.


1. Research the Practice

Before heading into your interview, it is essential to gather as much information as possible about the practice you are applying to. Take the time to understand their values, ethos, and the services they offer. Start by examining the company's website, where you can explore their mission statement, practice values, and the range of patient education and or services they offer. Have a look at their repeat prescription process. Additionally, explore their annual reports, press releases, and any articles or news features that provide insights into any recent achievements or changes. Social media platforms can also offer valuable information on how the general practice portrays itself, interacts with patients, or shares its core values.
Engaging with current or former employees, industry professionals, or customers through networking platforms can provide valuable insights into the surgery's work culture, reputation, and patient satisfaction. Moreover, take note of any awards or recognitions they have received, as this can reflect their excellence in specific areas. 

Next, in order to gain a thorough understanding of the practice you are considering joining, it would be beneficial to conduct some research and gather information from various online sources. One such source is the latest CQC Report, which provides valuable insight into the areas where the practice may require support and improvement. Additionally, utilising the website Fingertips can offer a wealth of data and information about general practices nationwide. This platform allows you to access relevant details regarding the performance, patient demographics, and overall quality of care delivered by the GP. By studying this information, you will be better equipped to evaluate the practice's effectiveness and identify areas where your expertise and input could be of particular value. However, it is crucial not to overlook one key aspect - the prescribing trends exhibited by the GP. Open Prescribing is an invaluable resource that enables you to analyse and comprehend the practice's general prescribing practices. This information will help you identify instances where the practice may be underspending or in need of prescribing improvements. For instance, there might be a need for a review of their vitamin and minerals prescribing or an opportunity to optimise cardiac prevention strategies. By addressing these areas of improvement during the interview process, you can demonstrate your keen interest and valuable insights to the interviewer. You may even bring to their attention knowledge they were not previously aware of, thus setting yourself apart from other candidates and increasing your chances of securing the job.

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Include these transferable skills in your CV

  • Strong communication skills for effective patient interaction
  • Ability to identify and assess drug interactions
  • Skill in interpreting and evaluating clinical data
  • Problem-solving abilities for managing unfamiliar situations
  • Time management for handling multiple tasks and prioritising responsibilities
  • Empathy and teamwork as part of an interprofessional healthcare team
  • Adaptability and flexibility in fast-paced and ever-changing environments

2. Review Your CV

It is important to be fully aware of the details on your CV, as your interviewers may refer to it during the interview. Consider how your experiences, qualifications, and skills align with the requirements of the position. When I initially joined the practice, I was unaware of the extent of my transferable skills. It took me quite some time to fully comprehend the fact that many of the skills I had acquired during my time in community pharmacy could be effectively utilised within the realm of general practice. Reflecting back, I can confidently assert that my skill set has been instrumental in enhancing my performance and contributing to the overall success of the practice. Identify the similarities between your current jobrole and the role of a general practice pharmacist and highlight these transferable skills. This will enable you to seamlessly adapt and excel in your current role. Through your previous experience, you will have developed a wide range of competencies, such as strong communication skills, attention to detail, and the ability to navigate complex patient scenarios - allowing you to effectively interact with a diverse clientele while delivering optimal patient care.

If your background is community or hospital pharmacy, one essential skill shared between your old and new role is the ability to effectively communicate with patients. Whether it is providing medication counseling or offering guidance on treatment plans, pharmacists in all three settings must possess excellent communication skills to ensure that patients comprehend the medications they are taking and the importance of adhering to prescribed treatments.

Additionally, pharmacists must be adept at identifying and assessing drug interactions, taking into account a patient's complete medication profile. This requires comprehensive knowledge of drug-drug interactions, contraindications, and potential adverse effects. The ability to interpret and evaluate clinical data is also a vital skill for both community and general practice pharmacists. Whether it involves reviewing laboratory results or analysing patient histories, pharmacists must be able to interpret this data accurately to make informed decisions and provide the most appropriate pharmaceutical interventions.

Moreover, all three settings require pharmacists to possess strong problem-solving abilities. They must be resourceful and quick-thinking when faced with unfamiliar situations or challenges, such as managing medication shortages or ensuring patient safety during a medication error. Another crucial transferable skill is time management. Pharmacists must be able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously and prioritise their responsibilities efficiently. From dispensing medications in a busy community pharmacy to managing complex medication regimens in a hospital setting, time management is crucial to providing quality pharmaceutical care. In all patient care settings, pharmacists must demonstrate empathy and the ability to work collaboratively as part of an interprofessional healthcare team. This involves actively listening to patients' concerns, providing education and counseling, and participating in collaborative decision-making.

Lastly, pharmacists in all three sectors must be adaptable and able to thrive in fast-paced and ever-changing environments. Whether it is responding to emergent situations in a hospital or community or adapting to evolving guidelines and best practices in a general practice, flexibility and the ability to quickly learn and adjust are crucial for success. 


3. Understand Current General Practice Issues

One of the key issues currently affecting general practice is the increasing demand for services amid limited resources. As the population continues to grow and age, the pressure on GPs to provide comprehensive care to their patients intensifies.  Moreover, recent technological advancements have introduced a new dimension of healthcare issues, including the rapid adoption of electronic prescribing, electronic health records, online consultations and telemedicine. Financial considerations such as reimbursement models and healthcare policy changes greatly impact general practice. The transition from fee-for-service models to value-based care has prompted GPs to focus on preventive care and patient outcomes, which require continuous evaluation and improvement. Understand local targets by researching the ICBs prescribing policies and agenda by contacting them, via their website or by  connecting with local networks and attending conferences and workshops. Read related article on Budgetary Constraints in Personal Prescribing


4. Prepare for Clinical Scenarios

GP pharmacist interviews can include scenarios designed to test your approach to patient care or teamwork rather than your clinical knowledge. Practice answering these scenarios with a clear structure and evidence-based rationale. You may be asked about ethical dilemmas such as patient autonomy, confidentiality, safeguarding and informed consent. Being prepared to handle these scenarios effectively will demonstrate your clinical competence and ability to provide comprehensive care. 

The role of a general practice pharmacist encompasses a crucial aspect of patient care, where the pharmacist is responsible for providing medication management services in collaboration with the healthcare team. To evaluate the competency and approach towards patient care, interviews for a general practice pharmacist role may include clinical scenarios. These scenarios are carefully designed to assess the candidate's ability to make appropriate clinical decisions, demonstrate effective communication skills, and showcase their overall approach to patient care.

A question I was asked at my interview was around polypharmacy; A patient presenting with multiple chronic conditions and various medications. This scenario aimed to evaluate my ability to assess and manage complex medication regimens while considering the patient's overall health status. I don;t remember how I answered this question, however, sitting on the other side now, an ideal response would demonstrate a systematic approach to reviewing medications, identifying potential drug interactions or adverse effects, and providing appropriate recommendations. Additionally, I would expect you to consider the patient's preferences, lifestyle, and goals of therapy when making medication-related decisions.

A clinical scenario I ask in my interviews involves a patient seeking advice on managing a minor ailment. This scenario tests a pharmacist's ability to provide evidence-based and patient-centered care for self-limiting conditions. You  would be expected to demonstrate your knowledge of appropriate over-the-counter treatments and provide advice on symptom management, self-care strategies, and when to seek further medical attention. Effective communication skills are crucial in this scenario, as the you must provide clear instructions and address any concerns or misconceptions the patient may have.

An additional clinical scenario could be a patient who is non-adherent to their medication regimen. This scenario evaluates your ability to identify barriers to medication adherence and develop strategies to improve compliance. You should demonstrate empathy, active listening skills, and the ability to engage in motivational interviewing techniques. You should be able to address potential reasons for non-adherence, such as cost, forgetfulness, side effects, or lack of understanding about the medication's purpose. You could then provide appropriate interventions, including educational materials, reminder systems, or alternative medication options, to improve patient adherence.

Furthermore, interviews for a general practice pharmacist role could include a scenario involving a patient with potential drug-drug interactions. This scenario tests the pharmacist's ability to identify and manage potential drug interactions, considering the patient's unique characteristics. In this situation, you should demonstrate a thorough understanding of drug interaction mechanisms, such as pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic interactions, and be able to prioritise potential risks or benefits of medication combinations. You could also talk about communicating effectively with the patient and other healthcare professionals involved to ensure safe and appropriate medication use.

Explore the clinical reviews, treatment plans, and prescribing protocols offered on AskShilpa. As a starting point, you may benefit from understanding how pharmacists can diagnose and treat urinary tract infections, review patients taking warfarin and prescribe in menopause. These resources can provide you with valuable insights and knowledge that will enhance your understanding of the subject matter. By familiarizing yourself with this information, you can approach your interview with a sense of self-assurance.

 

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5. Emphasize Your Communication Skills

Strong interpersonal skills can help pharmacists build rapport and trust with patients, fostering a positive and comfortable environment. This not only enhances patient satisfaction but also strengthens the pharmacist-patient relationship, leading to improved medication adherence and overall well-being.In an interview, one of the key factors that can make or break your chances of success is your ability to effectively communicate. It is absolutely crucial to emphasize your strong communication skills as they are an essential selling point for pharmacists in all sectors. A pharmacist's primary responsibility is to interact with patients, multidisciplinary teams, and even other colleagues on a daily basis. Whether it is discussing a patient's medication regimen, providing medication counseling, or collaborating with doctors and nurses, effective communication is at the core of everything a pharmacist does.

If you have been involved in group or one to one consultations, patient counselling or team management, you can include examples as your enhanced verbal communication skillset; encountering challenging situations or conflicts, dealing with dissatisfied patients, clarifying misunderstandings with colleagues, or addressing concerns from superiors. Clear and concise communication can help mitigate conflicts, find common ground, and ensure a harmonious work environment. Written communications could include documenting patient interactions and medication recommendations to writing medication-related articles or creating educational materials as this will demonstrate your ability to convey information accurately and effectively.

6. Reflect on Continued Professional Development

Pharmacists possess a strong commitment to lifelong learning. With the ever-evolving landscape of pharmaceutical therapies and an increase in medication-related complexities, it is vital that you stay abreast of the latest research, guidelines, and regulations. You may be able to describe how you have engaged in professional development activities, such as attending conferences and completing specialised training, to enhance your knowledge and skills or additional courses or research you have undertaken or plan to undertake. Demonstrate your commitment to ongoing professional development by reflecting on your education and career progression. Identify areas in which you seek further improvement and outline how you plan to achieve these goals. This will demonstrate your dedication to staying abreast of the latest medical advances and maintaining the highest standards of patient care.

One of the key areas that General Practice Pharmacists frequently engage with is the realm of drug alerts and recalls. Ensure you are well-versed and continuously updated on any recent or significant Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) alerts. You may be able to discuss  or recommend appropriate processes for the dissemination of information to both team members and patients, thereby minimising the potential risks associated with using specific medications. By familiarising yourself with these alerts (and then refering to them during the interview!), you will demonstrate that you are equipped with the knowledge necessary to promptly identify and respond to any potential problems or concerns regarding medication usage, thereby impressing the interviewer by safeguarding patient welfare. 

7. Prepare Questions to Ask

Towards the end of your interview, you will typically be given the opportunity to ask questions. Prepare a list of relevant and thoughtful questions about the practice, the team dynamic, opportunities for professional growth, and the challenges that may be encountered in the role. This demonstrates your enthusiasm and engagement with the potential position, and also allows you to ensure the practice aligns with your own professional goals.

By following these essential tips, you will be well-prepared to excel in your general practice interview. Remember to remain composed, confident, and genuine throughout the process. Good luck!
Pharmacist Shilpa Patel

Shilpa Patel

Lead Presscribing Pharmacist and GP partner at WellBN

Creator of AskShilpa.com, I also write for the Chemist & Druggist and EmpowHER and am passionate about inspiring and encouraging pharmacists to explore new avenues and promoting excellence in the field. I have over 17 years of experience in community pharmacy and 8 years as a clinical pharmacist. Through my work, I have gained a deep understanding of general practice by creating and supervising a team of nine pharmacists and training them in their individual roles. I have also led on a GP merger and successfully run a benzodiazepine detox clinic. Additionally, I have been the medication lead for a primary care organization.
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Reviewed By: Ask Shilpa Author
Reviewed Date: 2023-07-25

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