We listened; here’s what you said

Posted on: Wednesday 11 May 2022
Author: FPM

In my last blog, I wrote about our online survey which asked about the value of FPM membership to you. The findings have now been analysed. Over 200 completed surveys were returned. These capture the views of a broadly representative sample of our community. The survey was anonymous. However, we asked the participants to tell us when they first joined FPM. I’ve calculated that there are around 3,000 years of experience and wisdom behind the responses, and I’m grateful to those who gave time to share their views.

There are many different reasons for joining professional membership bodies like FPM. We asked our members to pick five. Here’s what came out on top.

The survey finding suggests that the typical member joined FPM because they want to associate with high ethical standards and a strict code of professional conduct that is of direct relevance to the work of the pharmaceutical physician. They want a membership offer that raises their profile, secures recognition from employers and colleagues and helps shape the specialty’s future. At the same time, they value the sense of belonging to a community of like-minded, trustworthy professionals.

Around eight out of ten members responding believed that they obtained meaningful value from their membership. Over half thought that FPM membership represented good or even excellent value. The overwhelming majority indicated that they fully expected to renew in 2023, and four out of five respondents would likely encourage a colleague to join FPM under the right circumstances.

So far, so good, I hear you say, but there was some negative feedback in the survey too. Many respondents offered helpful suggestions as to what might be done better. The findings also identified a gap between what members think is important and what they think FPM’s leadership thinks is important. The gap is far from unbridgeable, particularly if we talk with each other, listen better, and think more carefully about communicating our ambitions and work programmes, both within the FPM community and beyond it. Creative tension is commonplace in most organisations, and I think that’s healthy.

Reading through the survey responses, I get a sense that most FPM members recognise that FPM is not a trade union or lobby group that exists to protect or further the interests of its members. FPM’s core purpose, as a charity, is driven by a need to advance the science and practice of pharmaceutical medicine for the benefit of the public. Less than one in ten members who completed the survey feel that we fail in this mission. A clear majority take a more positive view – although around a third had no idea; so there is work to be done.

As a next step, we’ll be discussing the findings in detail with small groups of FPM members to validate our conclusions and develop a new approach to recruitment, retention and securing stronger engagement between members and the body that strives to provide them with a professional home.

Finally, last month, I quoted the celebrated British author Jeanette Winterton. I’ll finish with another provocative line from the same source:

“Why is it that human beings are allowed to grow up without the necessary apparatus to make sound ethical decisions?”

Ms Winterton’s writing often sparks controversy, but there is some substance in what she says. How can anyone visibly demonstrate that they possess the necessary apparatus to make sound ethical decisions? FPM membership and compliance with its professional standards and code of conduct are powerful starting points for pharmaceutical medicine. Right now, it seems that the typical FPM member agrees. Of course, there is no such thing as a typical member and the diversity of the respondents in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and geography was encouraging.

Sarah Davis

Head of Membership


Sarah Davis