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Pharmacists during the pandemic and life as a PDA rep

In our latest member voice article, community pharmacist Hala Jawad shares how proud she is of the amazing service pharmacists have provided to patients during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hala also gives advice to pharmacy students and pre-regs and shares how being a woman from a minority group led her to become a PDA rep.

Fri 28th May 2021 The PDA

A main motivating factor for me was always to find a career where I could have a positive effect on people’s lives. Researching possible options kept drawing me back to wanting to train as a pharmacist and be part of a healthcare team. The traditional role of a pharmacist was starting to change rapidly and I felt it was a great time to become one.

I have always had a particular interest in science. I also developed an interest in anything related to health and interacting with people, so it seemed logical to choose a career that combined my interests. Looking back, I know I made the right decision!

I studied at the University of Brighton. From day one, I felt supported by the warm, welcoming, and friendly atmosphere demonstrated by their School of Pharmacy. This was even apparent after graduation and I remain an active member of the alumni to this day.

While at university, we were provided with information and placements that helped us to choose our career options for once we graduated. I decided to work as a community pharmacist because I felt it would provide a greater chance of direct interaction with patients which means a lot to me. I also started working in a GP surgery by accident. I volunteered to work in one for more experience and ended up being invited back in a clinical role. I love working in both areas.

Several years ago, it could have been argued that pharmacists were never fully accepted as part of the healthcare team, but it is obvious that our clinical skills, previously underused, are becoming more widely recognised as a valuable asset.

Support provided by pharmacists during the pandemic

“Pharmacy teams were amazing during the first wave of Covid-19. We provided a valuable service in a very stressful atmosphere where the needs of the patient were paramount.”

As a result, I strongly believe that we are now seen as a vital part of the team and we all have a part to play in ensuring the best possible outcomes for patients.

I have no doubt that we can do this again. I feel that organisations like the PDA and Pharmacist Support will be very beneficial in ensuring we take care of our own health and wellbeing but also support patients to the best of our abilities.

We have demonstrated our adaptabilities during the pandemic and have provided new ways of doing things. This has been noticed at the highest levels and it is my sincere hope that it will lead to the commissioning of exciting new services that will maximise the support that pharmacists can provide.

Many people are starting to think about how the pandemic has changed pharmacy and what the future may hold for the profession. The economy has been badly affected by the pandemic and it will take a while for pharmacies to fully recover, especially the independent sector. I would encourage pharmacists to take advantage of all help and support that is available to them from the PDA.

Advice for future pharmacists

Join the PDA. The PDA is not just an insurance provider! The PDA provide support on so many levels from lectures on risk assessment, to helping members with difficulties on placements and assessment revision programmes. They have a great team of experts ready and willing to help you on your journey to becoming a pharmacist. It can be a stressful time studying pharmacy and working as a trainee pharmacist, so it is important to have a support network in place that has your best interests at heart.

Also, I would advise those starting out in pharmacy to challenge themselves and to never stop learning. Always promote pharmacy and actively engage in all its activities.

“The equality networks fostered by the PDA are an invaluable source of support and I would urge everyone to become an active member of these networks.”

As a woman from a minority group, I often experienced discrimination in my life. I have only experienced this a few times in my working life, but at the time I was fortunate to have the support of many people and a belief in my own worth, so this carried me through.

I have always stood up for the rights of individuals. I am always looking at new ways to do this, so the opportunity to become a PDA representative was a great step forward; I am very happy that I became one.

“It is important to me to be able to provide representation for individuals who may be facing challenging times in their lives and are looking for some form of support.”

I always feel proud when I have helped someone through my work at the PDA. People that ask for our help can sometimes be at a very vulnerable point in their lives and don’t know who to turn to for support. I always welcome feedback and feel proud when someone mentions that I have made a difference to their wellbeing. I am also very proud to be a member and representative of the PDA playing a small part in the great work that they do for the profession.

Looking ahead

I would like to continue my work for the PDA and my associations within community pharmacy. I would like to represent pharmacy at a high level and actively promote everything relating to it. As I always say, “I’m a pharmacist who is passionate about all things pharmacy!”

I would like to see pharmacy continue to develop at the same rapid pace that has been demonstrated in recent years. The path to becoming an intricate part of the healthcare team was not easy and it took time to convince others that we had the skills to do this task. I will continue to promote pharmacy at every opportunity and ensure that it maintains its rightful place beside our healthcare colleagues.

By Hala Jawad, Community Pharmacist and PDA rep


Learn about the PDA Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Networks and how you can join them, here.   

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