Roles and skills

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Chapter: Hospital pharmacy : Medicines information

MI pharmacists undertake a wide range of roles and activities that encompass provision of information and advice on all aspects of medicines.

Roles and skills


MI pharmacists undertake a wide range of roles and activities that encompass provision of information and advice on all aspects of medicines. These roles are applied at both a clinical level to facilitate individual patient care, and at a strategic level to facilitate decision-making processes in the production of medicines-related policies, the rational introduction and use of medicines (new and established) in the NHS, including the production of guidelines to ensure the appropriate, safe and cost-effective use of medicines. The MI pharmacist therefore must have the knowledge and skills to undertake these roles effectively. These skills fall into a number of broad categories, as shown in Table 8.3, and are the basis for a person specification for an MI pharmacist. However, these skills are not unique to an MI pharmacist; many will be possessed by clinical pharmacists. Of course, an effective MI pharmacist has to be, first and foremost, a competent clinical pharmacist with an in-depth knowledge of therapeutics, and should, where possible, continue to provide a local clinical pharmacy role to sustain his or her knowledge and to ensure MI outputs are clinically and patient-relevant. The MI pharmacist will then have to develop the other skills, in some cases to a higher level, in order to undertake the full MI pharmacist role.


Table 8.3 Skill requirements for a medicines information pharmacist

Skill : Scope

Clinical : Knowledge and understanding of all aspects of drugs, therapeutic processes and procedures, disease pathology and management

Communications : Verbal: interrogating enquirers, determining the enquiry, obtaining appropriate and adequate background information, giving verbal responses, telephone techniques Written: writing reports, enquiry replies, bulletins; writing to the level of the recipient; converting data into concise and usable outputs; use of 'plain English'

Critical appraisal : Critically appraise and assess clinical and pharmaceutical literature, content and quality of commercial claims for medicines; working knowledge of medical statistics, including appropriateness and limitations; construction of clinical trials; pharmacoeconomics

Knowledge management : Resource utilisation, e.g. searching primary literature (Medline, Embase) databases, internet, in-house and library resources; interpreting data retrieved; determining  cost-effective and quality resources; systems design for in-house storage and retrieval of data

Interpersonal : Ability to work on own initiative; to prioritise work, self-assess performance and work quality and manage time effectively

Information technology (IT) : Ability to use IT resources for acquiring and disseminating information and service outputs; understanding applications of IT; keyboard skills

Management : Managing resources and people

Training : Ability to train pharmacists and other professionals requiring these skills or knowledge, e.g. preregistration pharmacists, pharmacists, nurses, doctors


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