Why did you become a pharmacist?
During my childhood whenever I visited friends and family in a hospital who weren’t well or when I went to the pharmacy which wasn’t far from our house I was struck by how very well respected the pharmacist was as part of the healthcare team. I also noticed how well they worked alongside other healthcare professionals and had so much expertise and knowledge about medicines. I was impressed by how much they helped people take care of themselves and manage their medication. Later on, at school, I developed a keen interest and ability in chemistry which propelled my interest further. That all sounds very idealistic and viewed through rose-coloured glasses but I was very young.
Could you describe your career pathway so far?
On the face of it, I think if someone was to read my CV they might think that my “pathway” has been planned or strategically thought through. This is not the case. On balance I would say I have made the very best use of opportunities that I have come across or have been presented serendipitously. I have been very lucky to have a wonderful range of experiences and a variety of jobs in different healthcare settings and with many different teams. In addition, I have also been lucky to been provided with opportunities to undertake postgraduate qualifications which have been funded in terms of money, time and support from the pharmacy departments and managers with whom I have worked.
I have had roles in primary care, secondary care and at the interface in both general medicine and mental health/psychiatry. In addition, I have been exposed to opportunities to lead on innovative service developments and be autonomous in making decisions on initiating and pushing projects forward. In fact, my career to date has been split approximately equally between general medicine and mental health/psychiatry and my postgraduate diplomas also reflect this. I am at the point now where I am embarking on the next steps and adventures in my career undertaking research as part of a PhD with Aston University whilst continuing clinical practice.
You have an interest in mental health pharmacy. Why?
If I might I would like to rephrase this if I may? I would say I have always had an interest in mental health, mental ill-health and the treatment and care of mental health. The main reason from this, if I am honest, stems from my personal experience of witnessing first-hand the impact of (untreated) mental illnesses from a very young age. Since I started practising as a pharmacist I have felt the call to work in mental health. I was lucky to be provided with an opportunity to work at a mental health trust around 11 years ago and since then I haven’t looked back. I feel that I should use my expertise, knowledge and understanding of medicines and how they work as well as my personal experience in a positive way to improve care. (Hope that doesn’t sound like I am trying to be too heroic)
One key factor that I would say that has been pivotal in my current role is that I currently work in a department that is led by a fantastic management team and I have been supported and pushed to improve my work. The people I work with across my NHS trust are wonderful and I have been privileged to have formed some good professional relationships which have blossomed. In addition, I feel that I have had many doors opened to allow me to fulfil my ambitions and aspirations as well as do things that I had never thought of before.