Could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to study pharmacy?
I have been a qualified nurse since 2002. I have worked mainly in critical care areas and, for 7 years prior to starting my MPharm, I was a clinical nurse specialist in pain management. I completed my non-medical prescribing course in 2013 and became interested in how drugs work. I enjoyed counselling patients on how to take their medications to achieve the best outcome for them so decided to take the plunge and study pharmacy. Having lived and worked in other parts of the UK and overseas for many years, I wanted to study in Scotland to be closer to my family. I got an unconditional offer from The Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen and the rest is history.
Congratulations on your recent award. Could you tell us what you did to achieve this accolade?
Thank you! I honestly have no idea how I achieved the award. I was nominated for the volunteering I did at RGU, peer teaching and my work as a nurse during the pandemic while still studying for my MPharm. I was the academic rep for my year in 2nd year and am currently one of the two Student School Officers for the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences. I feel honoured to have been nominated and over the moon to have won but basically, I just try to work hard, help others, be organised and lead by example.
How has the pandemic had an impact on you and your friends as pharmacy students?
The pandemic has impacted us as pharmacy students a lot. Everything is online now and most of us have not been on campus since March last year. We miss the social side of being at university and seeing our friends. It can be hard to motivate ourselves when we’re staring at a screen all day. I’ve been lucky and could still attend my experiential learning placement last year but many others couldn’t due to the travel restrictions.
What changes has the university made to your learning experience?
The university has been fantastic. All of the staff have worked so hard to ensure that our learning experience is the same high quality as it was before the pandemic. Everything is online now but the staff at RGU have gone over and above to make the transition to online learning as good as it can be. All of the support services at university are still available and the staff themselves have been exceptionally supportive.
What have you enjoyed so far in the undergraduate course?
I have enjoyed learning so many new things and making new friends up in Aberdeen. The placements I have had have been great and have given me an insight into many different aspects of the pharmacy profession.
The pandemic has in many ways been devastating for the UK but taking an optimistic stance do you see any benefits for pharmacy students and the profession more widely as a result?
The fact that we’ve all had to adapt the way we work (in uni, pharmacy roles or both), deal with the impact of all the restrictions and work a lot harder means that we’ve developed coping mechanisms that we perhaps didn’t have before and we’ve become more resilient. It’s been lovely to see how people have pulled together and I believe, in the vast majority of cases, it’s brought out the best in society.
Have you decided what pharmacy sector you would like to go into and why that area?
I honestly don’t know what sector I would like to go into yet. I have worked with so many inspirational pharmacists in many different places over the years. I started the course I thought that I’d become a hospital pharmacist as all of my nursing career has been in hospitals, then I got a community pharmacy job and did a summer placement with a great independent pharmacy chain. I’ve yet to have a placement in primary care so that may confuse matters even more.
Have you got any words of advice for pharmacy students coming behind you in years to come?
Make writing a to-do list a habit, start assignments and studying for exams early, and ask for advice if you need it. Help each other and share your knowledge and experience. I have lots of clinical experience that I use to help others yet I’m not the best at chemistry. Luckily, one of my best friends in my year is great at chemistry.