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Wow, what a week! Back to reality now (food shopping, washing, revision) - it's safe to say I have the post-conference blues. The week culminated in a wonderful ball that really was absolutely fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable, the perfect way to round off a busy week!
Before I continue, I must say a huge thank you to the BPSA executives for the work they have put in for us this year. It's been a pleasure to meet so many people that are passionate about this degree, its prospects and the students that study it. A big thank you also to this year's annual conference organisers - thank you for bringing it to Sunderland and doing such an amazing job!
Throughout the week, we've not only debated motions to decide if they'll become BPSA policy, but we've also listened to a variety of speakers from all over the profession. We've learnt about jobs you can do after this degree that may not be immediately obvious, which has included some truly inspirational stories from people who have a vision and want to do pharmacy differently. For example, we've heard how valued pharmacists are in industry due to our unique ability to see things from the patients' perspective; we've heard what hospital employers look for in a pre-reg application and we've also heard from owners of community pharmacies who want a healthcare centre rather than a retail business. Hearing people like this talk was inspiring and has made me think more about my future - it's also given me hope and encouraged me to pursue my dreams to make them a reality. Let's face it; no-one's going to do it for me! We've also had workshops from the Pharmacists' Defence Association and the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education, and learnt about the history of pharmacy in England - something I personally found very interesting. Women were certainly not always welcome in the profession or society!
While I enjoyed this immensely and found it incredibly interesting, I looked forward to conference business the most. This included debating motions and hearing from the members of the BPSA executive about their experiences over the past year. I have loved hearing what everyone has to say and even spoke myself a couple of times with the odd question or comment - truly nerve-wracking for me at first to speak in front of a hundred people but you end up being so involved and everyone is so friendly it's not scary at all after a while! Some motions passed include full BPSA support for international students in these tricky times (a situation that is, to my knowledge, improving) and fighting for the inclusion of first-aid training in all MPharm courses. Finally, BPSA day allowed me to meet representatives from many different areas of pharmacy from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to the College of Mental Health Pharmacy. It broadened my horizons and introduced me to a range of services and groups I had no idea existed - and it allowed me to pick up a few freebies which were most welcome to a student a week away from loan day!
It's really hard to sum up such a full and fascinating week in a blog post, but I hope my enthusiasm for the work of the BPSA has been conveyed and I really must implore you to find out what the BPSA is about and get involved in any way you can - membership is free so you have no excuse! While at the conference, we heard the fantastic news that the pre-reg entrance and exam fee has been reduced. I have also learnt about their Professional Development Scheme and the variety of exchanges offered which allow you to gain truly unique experiences and get involved with pharmacy in another country. Overall, it has changed the way I look at pharmacy for the better as well as filling me full of enthusiasm for the future - I know I'll be at annual conference next year, the question is...will you?