Why did you become a pharmacist?
I really enjoyed science at school and particularly chemistry. I applied for both chemistry and pharmacy courses at University but chose Pharmacy because I was interested in medicinal chemistry and drug design.
Could you describe your career pathway so far?
After graduating, I spent my pre-reg year in an industry/hospital split and really enjoyed my time at Barts and London during my hospital placement. I then moved to Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals as a STEP (basic grade) pharmacist which was fantastic. I learned a huge amount and will always be grateful for the support from the senior pharmacists and technicians there. I then moved back to Nottingham and started a PhD in medicinal chemistry working part-time at a BUPA hospital and supervising undergraduate practicals. However, this turned out not to be the right thing for me at that stage in my career and I left the PhD incomplete.
I then accepted a job as a band 7 pharmacist at University Hospitals of Leicester as a cardiorespiratory pharmacist I spent about 9 months in cardiology then rotated into the Respiratory unit where I then stayed for around three years before successfully applying for an 8a senior role in Respiratory. In 2015 I felt the need for a new challenge and applied for a post in Nottingham as the Lead Pharmacist for High-Cost Drugs. This role is funded partly by NHS England and partly by the local CCGs but works embedded in the acute Trust. This presented me with a whole new and interesting set of challenges and opportunities and I enjoyed the variety of clinical, financial and managerial workload.
In 2017 the opportunity came up to apply for the role of Assistant Head of Pharmacy – Clinical Services at Nottingham University Hospitals. I have now been in this role for around 18 months and am delighted to be part of shaping the future of clinical pharmacy services in Nottingham and wider as we move towards Integrated Care Systems.
You have an interest in respiratory. Why?
- The patients: in my time at Leicester I spent a huge amount of time with my patients on our respiratory wards. I enjoyed the fact that I got to know people over a period of time and the variety of people I met. Anyone who knows me is aware that I am hugely passionate about the care of people with Cystic Fibrosis and that is down to the amazing people I met working in the CF clinic in Leicester. There is a real pleasure in being a (small) part of people’s story and being a Respiratory Pharmacist is a way of achieving that.
- The colleagues: across the Respiratory units at GSTT, Leicester and Nottingham and across the country as part of UKCPA and through the UK CF Pharmacists Group which I currently chair.
- Anna Murphy: I was lucky (?) enough to fall under Anna’s spell as a band 7 pharmacist in Leicester. I think she could see my potential and my passion for patient care and helped me to harness that. It was Anna that encouraged me to join UKCPA and then to join the Respiratory committee. It was Anna that encouraged and mentored me when I applied for the Gilead research fellowship, when I joined the NICE development group for the Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Guideline and when I took my first poster to the European Cystic Fibrosis Society Conference. Without Anna I wouldn’t be where I am now.
What advice would you give to a newly qualified pharmacist?
Don’t underestimate the importance of your role. You are not JUST the pharmacist you are THE pharmacist. What you do, and the difference you can make to people is really important.
Treat every interaction with a patient with the thought and respect it deserves. What might be a very small thing to you can be a hugely important conversation to them.
Don’t be afraid to talk about more than medicines. I am sure that some of the most important conversations I have had with patients have had nothing to do with medicines and sometimes just making somebody feel comfortable, safe, showing empathy or making them laugh is more important that the clinical detail.
Are you a member of any professional bodies? Which ones and why are you a member?
I am a member of the RPS, I think there is a lot of work to be done for the RPS to represent all the members of our profession.
I am a member of UKCPA which has been a big influence on my career and has helped drive and stretch me as a pharmacist.
I am the current chair of the UK CF Pharmacists Group and a member of the European CF Pharmacists Group. I believe that a competent, confident CF Pharmacist is essential to the highest standards of care for people with CF we have a good network in the UK and we are working to increase the provision of CF Pharmacy across Europe.
What has been your proudest moment so far as a pharmacist?
I am very proud to have given an oral presentation at the European CF Conference in Gothenburg but I am also so proud in the week leading up to Christmas that my team of pharmacists and technicians are providing excellent care across our hospitals and safely and effectively managing discharges, unwell patients and being a huge credit to the profession.
Are you optimistic about the future of pharmacy in the UK?
Yes – there are challenges and the environment we work in is changing more rapidly than I can remember but there is more of a need now for pharmacists than ever before.
What do you enjoy to do outside of work?
I have two boys that I love spending time with, but I maintain my role as “old man” of our departmental football team, enjoy eating and cooking especially anything spicy, reading and music
What’s next for you?
I am only 18 months into my role here and am really excited by developing our service and the prospects of exploring integrated, pharmacy-led care in the future. We are also delighted that the European CF conference in June is in Liverpool and are planning a really strong pharmacy program.