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Scottish Pharmacy Award winner has useful advice for new pharmacy students

The 2019 Scottish Pharmacy Awards took place at the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow. Categories ranged from Student Leadership, and Hospital Pharmacy Team of the Year, to Management of Substance Misuse in the Community, and Community Pharmacy Practice of the Year.

Mon 23rd March 2020 The PDA

Each year, the PDA sponsor the Student Leadership Award category in the Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh Pharmacy Awards.

The 2019 winner was Erin Gilmour who, as president of the student-led Aberdeen Interprofessional Education Society, has been heavily involved in chairing the organisation, as well as promoting its offerings to students, and organising learning events, social activities and committee meetings throughout the year.

During the year, Erin updated all of the society’s social media outlets and agreed on a standard format with the committee as to how information would appear on their website and social media pages. The interest subsequently expressed has been notable as at the end of the year the society finished with their highest number of members ever at 256; being the largest society at Robert Gordon University (RGU).

Student Leadership Award winner Erin Gilmour, Robert Gordon University, with Alima Batchelor, PDA Head of Policy, who was one of the category judges, PDA Union Scotland Regional Official Cheryl Smyth and PDA Union Network at Boots representative for West Scotland, Paul Flynn.

We recently caught up with Erin Gilmour of Robert Gordon University, winner of the 2019 Scottish Student Leadership Award, to find out her future plans, what inspired her to study pharmacy, and how her time at university has changed her as a person.

Erin, what year of study are you in?


Why did you choose to study pharmacy?

I chose to study pharmacy because it brought together the sciences I had enjoyed at school, problem-solving and people skills. After I attended the open day at RGU (Robert Gordon University) and saw the range of things student pharmacists do and learn about, I was hooked.

What is the main thing about pharmacy that interests you?

I am fascinated by how drugs work and impact on the body and how as a pharmacist you can apply this knowledge and science to each individual patient. I’ve also found it really interesting to learn about the governance of medicine and the layers of complexity required to ensure safe medicines and safe use of them.

How have you found your course so far?

I’ve really enjoyed the course and the range of topics within it from chemistry to pharmacy practice to formulation. Throughout my degree, I have had a number of placements, but I remain envious of the other healthcare professions who spend a significant part of their undergraduate learning in practice, I am excited to see what Pharmacy ACT in Scotland brings!

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

  1. Have fun!
  2. Study as you go
  3. Immerse yourself in all thing’s pharmacy! Understanding current developments and pharmacist’s roles across the different sectors gives you more context to what you are learning at university and makes it easier to understand.

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

Hindsight is a great thing but overall, I have no regrets!

What are your aims and aspirations for the future in terms of your career?

I don’t have an end goal for my career. I am excited to start my hospital pre-registration year in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and look forward to building a strong clinical foundation. While being an undergraduate, I have benefitted from a number of inspirational pharmacists who have shared their knowledge and expertise, an aspiration would be to follow in their footsteps and be a clinical leader with influence to shape our profession.

Do you take part in any extra-curricular activities? If so, what are they are what made you decide to do them alongside your course?

Yes, I have played for the university netball team for the past four years. I played netball throughout school and when I came to university I decided to join because I thought it would be a good way to make friends and keep my fitness up. I have made great friends through netball and it has been one of the highlights of my time at university.

I am also president of the Aberdeen IPE society, I joined first year after we had been given a short talk about the society. It appealed to me because it sounded like an opportunity to learn about the patient journey and other health care professions. After first year I became part of the committee and for the past 2 years, I have been president. The events have allowed me to develop a greater understanding of the multidisciplinary team and pharmacy’s role within it. It has been a privilege to learn from other healthcare students and my future colleagues, and I have learnt that having empathy for each other’s roles is essential to providing the best patient care.

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

Over my four years of being a student, I’ve grown to appreciate the power of a ‘to-do list’!

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

The last four years have been amazing, university has challenged me in so many ways but as I’ve progressed through the course this has made me have more belief in myself. I’ve learnt to understand that people approach things in different ways and appreciate other people’s perspectives more.

Related link

PDA at the Scottish Pharmacy Awards 2019

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