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Career spotlight: Respiratory pharmacist Darush Attar-Zadeh


Why did you become a pharmacist?


As my chosen A-level subjects were Biology, Maths and Chemistry, pharmacy seemed the right career path for me. At 17 years of age, I enjoyed my work experience with Boots, especially the interaction with customers. I also did an oxygen audit for the local CCG (FHSA in those days) which was fun as I got to know the local community pharmacies in West London.


My pre-registration year had a major influence on my career in community pharmacy, listening to patient ailments and being able to offer pharmacological as well as non-pharmacological advice. Continual CPD was crucial, following national evidence-based guidance.


It’s amazing to see the impact that educating patients in the areas of self-management, prevention and treatment can have on an individual basis and at a population level.


Could you describe your career pathway so far?


My pre-registration year was in Tesco pharmacy, Oxford Street London, and I was quickly promoted to Manager at the age of 21. In 1998 I was inspired by a pharmacist from Northern Ireland (Terry McGuire) to set up a pharmacy stop smoking service, and thankfully funding was made available to run a free smoking cessation service in the pharmacy (an initiative led by another amazing pharmacist, Tony Carson). Apart from advising on pharmacological treatments, I particularly enjoyed the behavioural change aspects of helping patients combat one of the toughest addictions that exist.


A few years later I moved to an independent pharmacy in Chiswick, where I delivered NHS stop smoking services. As I was one of the first pharmacists in the country to deliver the service and achieve high success rates, the Local Authority asked me to mentor other pharmacists.


In 2004 after helping several hundred people go ‘smokefree’, I decided to run group sessions in the Chiswick Health Centre after attending intensive training by leading national experts.


The National Centre for Smoking Cessation & Training (NCSCT) then asked me to comment and contribute to the National Training Standards for Smoking Cessation. In subsequent years I was then the pharmacist treating tobacco dependency representative for the London Clinical Senate Helping Smokers Quit programme, London Respiratory Network, International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG), Primary Care Respiratory Society(PCRS), Pulse, Primary Care Respiratory Academy (PCRA), CPPE, Barnet CCG, London Procurement Partnership (LPP), RPS North West London pharmacy group (RPS LNW).


Alongside my work in treating tobacco dependence (delivering directly to patients and training others), I also worked as a CPPE tutor and currently continue to be the programme guardian for smoking cessation. In 2014, I was appointed Medicines Optimisation Lead for respiratory with Barnet CCG. This then led onto learning new skills including becoming an Advanced Inhaler Trainer with Jon Bell and CPPE. In 2016/17 I helped the LPP and other clinical colleagues to develop the renowned RightBreathe website and application for patients and clinicians. Pharmacists have such an important role in helping patients find the right device and treatment. It’s pointless having a medicine if the patient can’t get the medicine to the site of action.


In 2017/18 I was asked to be part of the IPCRG Asthma Right Care group and honoured to be asked to be the Clinical Lead for the PCRA community pharmacy platform.


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