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Career highlights

Celebrating a year of career highlights

The Pharmaceutical Journal invited this year’s Careers section contributors to share their 2018 career highlights and their best piece of career advice for other pharmacy professionals.

Career stars

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Aamer Safdar

Aamer Safdar

Principal pharmacist lead for education and development, Guys’ and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Career highlight: 

Being re-elected on to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Pharmacy Board in a competitive open election. 

Best piece of career advice:

It’s cool to be kind — be kind to yourself, be kind to your team and be kind to your patients. Kindness is infectious and spreads happiness.

Abraham Khodadi

Abraham Khodadi

Media pharmacist (online; Abraham the Pharmacist)

Career highlight:

Becoming the first pharmacist to create and feature in educational pharmacy videos for Public Health England.

Best piece of career advice:

Ideas are easy — execution is all that matters. Work hard and be brave.

Alison Hemsworth

Alison Hemsworth

National assistant head of primary care policy (pharmacy and dispensing doctors), NHS England

Career highlight:

Being recognised as one of the leaders of my profession and being approached to contribute articles and first person interviews for various publications, including The Pharmaceutical Journal, on the value that pharmacy technicians add to the workplace.

Best piece of career advice:

If you have a goal go for it. Don’t let the doubters make you lose faith in yourself and remember that there are always alternative ways to achieve something if you don’t fit the norm.

Arron Sahota

Arron Sahota

Manager — audit and risk advisory, Deloitte; pharmacist

Career highlight:

Being able to adapt to new environment’s and applying my previous clinical and managerial experiences to positively support improvement and change within healthcare.

Best piece of career advice:

Believe in yourself and your ability, you never know what you are capable of until you are challenged. There is always something to learn from every experience and it is part of the journey for continual development.

Christine Heading

Christine Heading

Deputy lead and academic liaison, Royal Pharmaceutical Society London North West (LNW) local practice forum; associate lecturer, Open University; executive committee member, National Association of Women Pharmacists

Career highlight:

Succeeding in helping my Royal Pharmaceutical Society LNW colleagues to get research abstracts reporting their project findings accepted for presentation at two professional meetings to be held in Winter 2018/2019.

Best piece of career advice:

Think positively and don’t be afraid to try something new. This might be within your existing role, or existing organisation or a completely new way of applying your pharmacy expertise.  

Claire Anderson

Claire Anderson

Chair of social pharmacy and head of division of pharmacy practice and policy, University of Nottingham School of Pharmacy; lead of the academic workforce and capacity strand of the International Pharmaceutical Federation workforce development hub

Career highlight:

Hosting The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Glasgow in September 2018.

Best piece of career advice:

Never be afraid to totally change careers — becoming an academic was the best thing I have ever done. 

Deborah Evans

Deborah Evans

Managing director and founder of Pharmacy Complete, a training and consultancy business

Career highlight:

Setting up the Women in Pharmacy Facebook group. We now have over 7,000 members, 18% of whom are based outside the UK.

Best piece of career advice:

If you’re in a role where you are unhappy then don’t settle; change what you do. Continue to learn and grow, embracing development opportunities whenever you can. If you’re combining caring responsibilities with a career then don’t expect to be able to commit 100% to both, all of the time. You will need to make compromises so don’t feel guilty — you’re doing the best you can.

Gavin Birchall

Gavin Birchall

Founder and managing director of marketing companies DOSE Design and DOSE Publishing

Career highlight:

Publishing the first book launched by DOSE Publishing about marketing for pharmacy professionals. The response to the book launch has been fantastic. Equally, returning to practice in community pharmacy after working in marketing has been a really positive and enjoyable experience.

Best piece of career advice:

Start now. If you have a burning ambition that you would like to realise there is no better time to start than now.

Julia Whettam

Julia Whettam

Senior pharmacist at the North West Ambulance Service clinical hub

Career highlight:

Leading the team of clinical hub pharmacists at the North West Ambulance Service and being asked to work with The University of Derby to provide experience-based scenarios for their integrated urgent care pharmacists course.

Best piece of career advice:

Have an idea of where you want to be in five years time. Don’t let money get in the way — make wise choices according to your passions, not on the pay scale. Never take the easiest path — you might miss out on something amazing.

Karen Gunnell

Karen Gunnell

Teaching fellow in pharmacy practice at Keele University

Career highlight:

Publishing my first book, A Practical Guide to Medicines Administration, with my colleague and friend Rebecca Venables. It started as an idea in 2016 while trying to support Keele University MPharm students through their competency based assessments but could not find resources to help them. Also chairing the UK Clinical Pharmacy Association Education and Development committee for a second year in 2018. 

Best piece of career advice:

Don’t be afraid to be innovative or give something a go. Rarely are things that disastrous that they can’t be rectified and actually they might work and lead to something wonderful. 

Kayt Blythin

Kayt Blythin

Principal clinical pharmacist, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

Career highlight:

The Medicines Optimisation for Care Homes service team delivering a fantastic service and this being recognised by being short–listed for the Medicines OptimisationHealth Service Journal award.

Best piece of career advice:

Be flexible and take the initiative to work across different sectors of pharmacy. Embrace portfolio working and focus on listening to the individual — don’t underestimate what a patient knows.

Leyla Hannbeck

Leyla Hannbeck

Chief pharmacist and director of pharmacy, National Pharmacy Association

Career highlight:

Becoming a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and receiving an award from the Independent Pharmacy Group for services to community pharmacy.

Best piece of career advice:

Be yourself, be true, be brave and believe in your capability.

Lucy Sale (née Lelliot)

Lucy Lelliott

Lead pharmacist, respiratory, and education and training, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Career highlight:

Undertaking an audit of my work in the interstitial lung disease clinic which demonstrated the value of my role as a non-medical prescribing pharmacist. Adding value to patient care and also alleviating pressure from the respiratory consultant is something I am proud of. 

Best piece of career advice:

Do not be afraid to get involved. Showing your willingness to use your pharmacist skills will enable you to work with other healthcare professionals for the benefit of patients. Do not be afraid to think of new ideas.

Mark Borthwick

Mark Borthwick

Consultant pharmacist critical care, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust

Career highlight:

Winning The Pharmaceutical Journal’s writing competition this year; my involvement in setting critical care standards; working with a great team back at base; being elected as the co-chair of the UK Clinical Pharmacy Association, working with UCL on its postgraduate diploma in pharmacy practice, their masters degree in advanced pharmacy practice, and the clinically enhanced pharmacist independent prescribing postgraduate certificate; weathering the hospital influenza surge  in 2017 — so many things. Right now I am ‘buzzing’ at being involved in the stress ulcer prophylaxis international study, looking at a fundamental practice considered in almost all critically ill patients. 

Best piece of career advice:

Carpe diem — never say no immediately.

Naira Ghanem

Naira Ghanem

Preregistration trainee pharmacist, University Hospital Southampton

Career highlight:

Attending the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva was an incredibly eye-opening experience that motivated me to pursue more work around global health.

Best piece of career advice:

Sometimes having several options makes decisions harder and you might feel like you’re missing out. Don’t overload yourself too early on, focusing on just one or two projects outside of work might yield a better outcome.

Oksana Pyzik

Oksana Pyzik

Senior teaching fellow and global engagement coordinator, UCL

Career highlight:

2018 has been an important year for women across many different industries as they unite in movements to make their voices heard across the world. I had the pleasure of joining female pharmacist leaders in the first #PJMindTheGap Twitter debate.

I also addressed the UN in its New York City headquarters at the International Day of Women and Girls in Science Forum on 8 February 2018. I presented policy recommendations and urged the UN to instate a gender parity science prize which was accepted by member states and has been incorporated into the outcome document proposing an international framework and action plan for equality and parity. I am proud to say that this document formed the basis of the first political declaration of its kind.

Best piece of career advice:

Burn the checklist. You will never arrive at anything new or original by being predictable and imitating others. Don’t worry about saving face and do take risks. Be free to fail in order to learn. If you aren’t making any mistakes, you may need to ask yourself if you’re taking big enough risks. The pursuit of ‘perfect’ does not protect you; it blocks your progress towards reaching your full potential.

Priya Patel

Priya Patel

Acute hospital inspector, Care Quality Commission

Career highlight:

Leading a team of inspectors on an inspection at one of the busiest NHS trusts, in South London.

Best piece of career advice:

You are more likely to go far if you remain focused, persevere and dare. “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success”, as Dale Carnegie said. Failure only makes you stronger, so don’t give up.

Reena Barai

Reena Barai

Independent community pharmacist and National Pharmacy Association board member

Career highlight:

Being elected as a member of the National Pharmacy Association board and the first ever Asian woman to undertake this role.

Best piece of career advice:

Develop your transferable skills, push yourself out of your comfort zone and never say “I can’t”.

Sally Sosnicka

Sally Sosnicka

Third-year pharmacy student, University of East Anglia; British Pharmaceutical Students Association European officer 2018/2019

Career highlight:

Becoming the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) European officer for the 2018/2019 mandate and having the opportunity to represent the BPSA as an official delegate at the 15th European Pharmaceutical Students’ Association Autumn Assembly in Belgrade, Serbia.

Best piece of career advice:

Don’t ever think you’re not good enough or try to predict whether you’ll succeed at something or not. Even if for a second you’ve considered something, go for it. The worst thing that can happen is you get rejected but at least you’ll never sit there wondering what could have been.

Shivani Patel

Shivani Patel

GP pharmacist, AT Medics 

Career highlight:

Successfully entering primary care. The company I work for are really invested in upskilling pharmacists in general practice and this suits my career development goals.

Best piece of career advice:

Have a short-term plan (6–12 months) if you are still in the foundation stages of your career — think of multiple ways of reaching your goals and continually reflect upon them as well to ensure you are on track.

Wasim Baqir

Wasim Baqir

NHS care homes pharmacy lead, NHS England

Career highlight:

Being offered the opportunity to run the NHS England Medicines Optimisation in Care Homes programme.

Best piece of career advice:

Work with colleagues across your local health and social care system; understand each other, build relationships, have good open conversations and co-develop solutions. All good things start with mutual respect and shared purpose.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205787

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