Placement Research Published in Thorax
Rebekah Barnard - Summer Placement at Guy’s and St Thomas'
MPharm Stage 4 student Rebekah Barnard was one of 20 students picked for a 4 week summer placement at Guy’s and St Thomas' Hospital last summer. Rebekah was placed with a respiratory consultant pharmacist and spent most of her time collecting data around adherence in severe asthma, but also spent some time in clinics with the pharmacist, specialist nurse and consultant. The pharmacist whom she worked closely with presented the research at BTS conference in December and was published in Thorax. Congratulations Rebekah!. Here is her account of the experience:
Last summer, I was incredibly fortunate to secure a place within Guy’s and St Thomas’ summer placement scheme. During a typical hospital placement, ward rounds and dispensing may fill your time but this was a research-based internship. The primary aim was to contribute to clinical or non-clinical research within a specialist area. I was assigned to a mentor - a consultant respiratory pharmacist - and I chose to complete my research project in asthma. A common, but potentially serious condition, asthma is an area within which pharmacists have a huge role to play in supporting patients so I knew this research could not only provide valuable data but would equip me with crucial knowledge and tools for my future career. Guy’s and St Thomas’ is one of only three hospitals commissioned to provide specialist asthma care, so the team see a lot of patients with severe, often life-threatening asthma. Though observing clinics, I quickly identified the importance of a multi-disciplinary team in achieving the best outcomes for these patients, and was especially inspired by the huge role the consultant pharmacist played in educating patients, monitoring adherence, prescribing and optimising treatment.
Adherence in Asthma
My research project involved investigating patient’s adherence to their asthma medication before and after an exacerbation which had resulted in emergency department admission and consequently a referral to the severe asthma clinic. To do this, I accessed summary care records and called GP surgeries to calculate an estimate of each patient’s issued dosage of Inhaled Corticosteroid (ICS) and Long Acting Beta Agonist (LABA) compared with their expected/prescribed use (details in the publication). Many hours of data collecting and spreadsheet creating followed (research isn’t always as glamourous as it sounds!), and then I had a large data set to analyse. It was very interesting and encouraging to see that adherence to ICS/LABA significantly improved after patients attended the referral clinic that followed emergency department presentation, showing how important these interactions (often with a pharmacist) are. The research was subsequently submitted and accepted to be presented at a British Thoracic Society conference. It then went on to be published in Thorax, part of the BMJ, landing me my first publication as primary author.
It was incredibly rewarding to be part of clinical research, and exciting to see the huge array of opportunities that exist for pharmacists if we are willing to grab hold of them. As well as the respiratory clinic, I also spent time in medicines information, the ante-natal ward, dermatology and sleep clinics, meeting lots of inspirational pharmacists on the way. I would highly recommend other aspiring pharmacist to apply for hospital placements like this, to broaden the mind (and the CV), gain vital professional contacts, get inspired and make new friends!