Inspiring the future generation of pharmacists

The 2019 Welsh Pharmacy Awards took place on Thursday 23rd May at the Vale Resort, Glamorgan. The annual event recognises the pharmacy sector’s emerging talent, as well as the service delivered by pharmacist’s year after year.

Thu 20th June 2019 The PDA

The PDA sponsor the Student Leadership Award category in the Northern Irish, Welsh and Scottish Pharmacy Awards. We recently caught up with Georgina Leason, winner of the Welsh Student Leadership Award 2019, to find out what inspired her to pursue a career in pharmacy and what useful advice she would pass on to pharmacy students just beginning their course.

Georgina, why did you choose to study pharmacy?

I’d worked in a community pharmacy back at home in the midlands from the end of my GCSE’s up until university. I really enjoyed that it had clinical aspects and you still have the involvement of speaking to the public and getting to know them. I knew it was a very respectable degree and career and I made my decisions based on how much I enjoyed my part time job, as well as the fact it involves chemistry, biology and maths – my three favourite subjects.

What is the main thing about pharmacy that interests you?

It has to be the clinical involvement with the public. Pharmacy generally is the first line option for people involving healthcare and I appreciate how important pharmacists are to patients. It is so rewarding knowing that you can help someone, save time for the NHS and educate people. As of recently, I’ve become very aware that pharmacy is developing in a few aspects, many of which were mentioned at the Welsh Pharmacy Conference 2019. So many more things are becoming available like opportunities and the addition of new/different services in community pharmacies and I think this is interesting and would love to see how this pans out.

How have you found your course so far?

Personally, I have really enjoyed the course. It involves a general mix of subjects which really interest me. Of course, there were things which didn’t interest me too much, but these were normally small parts of modules. My favourite part of the course was learning about diseases and drugs, there were two modules in this; one in second and another in third year. I thoroughly enjoy pharmacology, clinical topics and physiology.

What three tips would you give to students beginning their pharmacy course? 

  1. Enjoy it whilst you can! The time flies!
  2. Work hard and take in as much information as you can so that each year you can build on your knowledge from previous years
  3. Make the most of opportunities! There’s a considerable amount of opportunities available, especially in Cardiff. Erasmus, Cardiff award, clinical placements, research placements, being a part of a committee just to name a few.

If you could start your course again, what if anything, would you do differently?

If I were to start the course again, I don’t think I would change anything. I don’t think it’s good to have regrets, it’s more important to learn from mistakes. That is what makes you a better person! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at university studying Pharmacy, I’ve learnt so much and can’t wait to progress in my pharmacy career.

Do you take part in any non-compulsory training/activities alongside your course?

I played netball with the pharmacy team for enjoyment once a week when I had the time. I also organised the annual charity pharmacy ball at the Mercure Hotel, raising over £2000, and organised the fourth-year formal dinner at Jury’s Inn as I enjoy organising events.

At the end of second year I undertook an 8-week research placement with Cardiff University and Neem Biotech. I had a job in Lloyds pharmacy up until third year where I gained valuable experience. In third year, there was also an opportunity to do an extra placement, so I opted to do this and spent half a day at GDAS (Gwent drug and alcohol support services).

I was involved in the pharmacy committee (WPSA) and was involved in raising money for Ty Hafan, doing things such as pub quizzes, bake sales and running the half marathon. I also completed the Cardiff Award to enhance my career and employability skills. I was involved in a UCAS tour to help a friend, and I gave a joint lecture to third years about ORIEL to help them when applying for their pre-registration year.

How did you balance your time between studying and any extracurricular activities?

You have to be really organised, which sometimes can be difficult, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I ensure I stick to a schedule; i.e. always study at the library to ensure I have time to do everything. If I have too much work to do, I would skip the odd extracurricular session or two. However, I managed to keep on top of it quite well.

Have your experiences at university changed you as a person? If so, how?

My university experience has definitely changed who I am as a person! I am so much more confident than I was, as I’ve had to do public speaking and more. As a result of this my communication skills have improved drastically! I’m much more organised and have managed to push myself out of my comfort zone.

L-R: Alima Batchelor, PDA Head of Policy, Georgina Leason, Student Leadership Award Winner, Welsh School of Pharmacy, Helen Lewis, PDA Union Regional Official (Wales and the West)

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