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On secondment to conduct research

PhD student Frances Notman tells us how she hopes her research can change practice

By Frances Notman

What was your first contact with pharmacy as a profession?

When I was at school I researched many careers and found myself leaning towards a career in healthcare. Pharmacy seemed to combine my interest in medicines and biology with my motivation to help people.

Where did you do your preregistration training?

I did my preregistration training at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and spent time rotating around different areas.

I enjoyed working in medicines information; we received enquiries from the general public, nurses, GPs and consultants and it was interesting to deal with such a variety of queries.

How were your early years of practice?

I worked as a basic grade pharmacist at ARI for a year before becoming a resident pharmacist for the emergency on-call pharmacy team in the Grampian Health Board area. I worked alone overnight and was responsible for the provision of all pharmaceutical services during those hours. This role presented many challenges. For example, I recall having to source leeches at midnight and sending them to Aberdeen to save a patient’s hand.

I also worked as a community pharmacy locum during this time. After a year I was offered a relief pharmacist post with an independent chain. This gave me the chance to work with a range of patients and during that time I gained a master’s degree in clinical pharmacy.

What is your current role and how did you get there?

I am on secondment from my community pharmacy post to undertake research for my PhD.

I am examining the action taken by patients in the management of early cancer symptoms and investigating the potential role that community pharmacy can play in early cancer detection. 

I had openly expressed my interest in research and a colleague at the University of Aberdeen, Christine Bond, invited me to join her experienced research team.

I recently started working part-time for NHS Education for Scotland (NES) as a practice education co-ordinator for its preregistration programme, vocational training scheme, pharmacist prescribing course and pharmacy assistant training programme.

I have always been passionate about education and training and have a postgraduate certificate in higher education, learning and  teaching. The team at NES have been welcoming and supportive, and I have enjoyed getting to know the trainees and tutors this past year.

Of which achievement are you most proud?

Gaining funding for my PhD from Pharmacy Research UK through the Sir Hugh Linstead Fellowship was a huge achievement but I could not have done it without the support and guidance of the research team at the University of Aberdeen. I never thought that I could be funded to do something I enjoy so much.

I am also proud to be part of a profession that everyday contributes in some small way to making things better for someone.

What do you hope to achieve in the future?

I am keen to continue my research into pharmacy practice  and link this work with my role in NES. I believe working in education and training provides opportunities for researchers like me to develop, implement and evaluate training programmes that have been guided by evidence. I hope that my research will help improve pharmacy training and subsequently patient care.

I would like to encourage early years pharmacists to engage with learning throughout their careers. It opens doors to different opportunities within pharmacy and helps improve job satisfaction. I would also like to continue working as a locum community pharmacist. I think it is important that I remain practising — it will keep me grounded.

In a world without pharmacy, what career would you pursue?

I would like to be a crime scene investigator or a pathologist. This might seem a bit morbid but in fact it often brings comfort to friends and family of the deceased. I think the investigative part would suit my interest in learning and research, and liaising with family and friends would satisfy my drive to support people when they need it most.

 

Frances Notman, MSc, MRPharmS is a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen. She is also practice education co-ordinator for the north region of NHS Education for Scotland and a community pharmacist.

 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11121267

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