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Career Spotlight – Garry McDonald

Garry Mcdonald


Why did you become a pharmacist?


Always had an interest in chemistry in school, and had one of Scotland’s most prestigious pharmacists as my local pharmacist (Elizabeth Roddick) when growing up, so the bar was set high. I also have to credit a childhood neighbour Prof Sandy Gray from Strathclyde Uni whom I knew before even applying for Uni, he crystallised all my interests and suggested pharmacy. Little did I know he was a leader in the field of pharmacognosy, we just thought he “worked at the Uni”.


Could you describe your career pathway so far?


Never had a defined pathway, and that reflects my nature. Postgrad diploma in Ag&Vet pharmacy in my pre-reg year. Superintendent pharmacist, pharmacy owner and then a hiatus where I took time to develop my consultancy business. An outsourced contractor for blue-chip companies like Rolls-Royce and Airbus in process reengineering and redesign. On financially retiring, I decided to focus back into healthcare and relight my passion for respiratory.


You have an interest in respiratory. Why?


At an early age, I was plagued with a host of respiratory conditions. Aged 4, I spent a month in an oxygen tent in an old-fashioned infectious diseases ward alongside old men in iron lungs with TB. After many winters of having my head held over pots of boiling water and steam inhalations, I wasn’t correctly diagnosed with having asthma until I was 14. Kept being told I would “grow out of it”. When I didn’t grow out of it, I was given a diagnosis of Asthma, even then it took 2 years for me to get an inhaler. And you guessed it, no inhaler technique was shown!


Have you got any concerns about the new triple therapy inhalers that have entered the market?


They have a place in COPD management, they aren’t for all. In fact we now know that they aren’t for 4 in 5 of our COPD patients who are of a non-exacerbating phenotype. I raised this with NICE CG101 on publication as both arms of the algorithm led to triple therapy. All roads, don’t lead to hell!


Do you think community pharmacists should be involved in risk assessing and therefore case finding uncontrolled asthmatics as they collect their reliever inhalers?


This is an IDEAL opportunity for community pharmacists to set their stall out and prove their worth in the primary care landscape. Develop better links and communication channels with local practices, working together and not in silos.
Our DNA asthmatics have to collect their physical inhalers from somewhere even if they don’t physically collect their paper prescriptions from the surgery. We are the gatekeepers to good asthma control, or in the words of Darush Attar-Zadeh we are “SABA Guardians”


What advice would you give to a newly qualified pharmacist?


I’ll take the fifth on this one on the grounds I may incriminate myself LOL.


Are you a member of any professional bodies? Which ones and why are you a member?


The PDA as I feel they represent me as a pharmacist and have my interest t heart.


They have done more for pharmacists and pharmacy in the last year than the RPS has done since it’s incorporation.
PCRS (Primary Care Respiratory Society), I’ve found my kindred spirit at PCRS GPs PNs Physios OT all with a respiratory interest and where all voices and professions have an equal voice. The annual conference is like a family reunion.


What has been your proudest moment so far as a pharmacist?


My very first-day qualifying. 800 items with only 1 dispenser, to then be told the store usually runs on 5 dispensers and 2 pharmacists.


Are you optimistic about the future of pharmacy in the UK?


Not community pharmacy, no. We need to move away from the volume-based payment model which has been in place since the 1960s and evolve into a clinical service model where we reward pharmacist for their input and not how many items they can turnaround in a day.


What do you enjoy to do outside of work?


I have a whole host of extra-curricular activities, this is vital in pharmacy. I also run my own consultancy business and performance coaching clinics, I currently have 4 international rugby players as clients. I am surprised at the number of pharmacists I am coming across in the coaching arena these days, maybe coaching is the new black for pharmacists?


Rugby is a big passion of mine, I’ve got my tickets for the Guinness Pro14 final in Glasgow this year!


What’s next for you?


Might do a PhD when I properly retire as a means of giving something back to the respiratory community.


That way if I say or do something controversial then it won’t have a negative impact on my career! LOL


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