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Vice-President of the LGBT+ Network discusses discrimination in pharmacy

In our latest member voice, Clinical Pharmacist and Vice-President of the LGBT+ Network, Lauren Keatley-Hayes (she/they) shares why she moved from community pharmacy to primary care and discusses the discrimination she has witnessed in the workplace.

Thu 9th December 2021 The PDA

I’m a Clinical Pharmacist working mainly in primary care. I have previously worked in community settings and in the hospital sector. I have a background in women-centred care from working in hospital, but I also have an interest in mental health and championing healthcare for transgender and non-binary (NB) patients.

I moved away from community-centred roles as I didn’t feel I had the opportunities to utilise my knowledge and skills as a pharmacist. Hospital pharmacy gave me new opportunities, but I found the structure too restrictive. Through my work with Ashburton Prescribing Ltd, I have had many opportunities to utilise my skills and had experiences in areas of pharmacy I never knew existed. For example, I’ve been able to help with mass vaccination centres, mixing vaccines for clinics and working across a range of PCNs to improve outcomes for networks. My role as Vice-President of the PDA’s LGBT+ Network will hopefully improve care for trans and NB patients too and I’m proud of the various union projects that are already underway.

As a student, I wish I’d known about the diverse range of jobs and career options there are for pharmacists. We’re all out here carving our own path and writing new and emerging job roles due to the breadth of skills pharmacy professionals have.

Discrimination in pharmacy

I thankfully haven’t experienced discrimination in my job due to being LGBT+ in pharmacy. I’ve definitely had some off-comments for being a woman in pharmacy though! I’ve witnessed racist and transphobic actions by other clinicians and patients. When I witnessed racism in community pharmacy, I called it out immediately and made sure the patient was aware that racism is not tolerated and that they would need to take their prescriptions to another pharmacy if they continued this behaviour. I also checked in with the member of staff after the incident to make sure they were okay and supported. In primary care, some staff members expressed racist remarks to me which I reported to their management. I also made those individuals aware that just because I’m white, it does not mean I share their hateful views.

There was also an incident with a transphobic clinician which involved them purposely misgendering a patient. I pulled them up about how what they had said was completely inappropriate and that they should respect the patient’s preferred pronouns in the future. I then used this as an education point to make sure all my other colleagues knew why this was inappropriate.

If you experience anything like this, reach out to the PDA! They can support you directly or signpost you to other organisations who can help. If you are not yet a member of the PDA, join today to make sure you protect yourself and get the support you need.

As an LGBT+ pharmacist, I would tell people not to put up with poor treatment. Nothing changes if nothing changes. We need to support and stick up for our students and colleagues (as well as ourselves!). If it’s safe to do so, be out. Being visible helps others in the community and improves your own mental health.

How to be an ally

If you want to be an ally of the network but think there’s no LGBT+ staff or patients where you work, I guarantee there are, they just may not feel comfortable being out. Start building in inclusive practices to your work to show others that you can be trusted. Start simple by respecting pronouns and not making assumptions about those you work with. Don’t make assumptions that heterosexual is the default, for instance, use ‘partner’ if referencing a patient’s/colleague’s significant other rather than assuming ‘husband/wife’ is the appropriate term (I had a very awkward run-in with a pharmacy inspector over this!). Also, if you ever make a mistake, it’s not a big deal, apologise and move on, then change your behaviour for next time and it will become second nature to you with practice.

All the fellow LGBT+ colleagues I’ve worked with have been my role models. We seem to have a way of seeking each other out! I’ve worked with some great senior pharmacists at the women’s hospital who really supported me as a rotational pharmacist. The technicians and dispensers I’ve worked with are really the unsung heroes of pharmacy. They keep everything running and do all the heavy lifting in pharmacy settings (literally and figuratively!).

 

By Lauren Keatley-Hayes (she/they), Clinical Pharmacist and Vice-President of the LGBT+ Network

Related links

Get involved

  • Join the PDA LGBT+ Network here.
  • Follow the PDA LGBT+ Network on social media using the hashtag #PDAlgbt
  • Contact the PDA LGBT+ Network committee know by emailing lgbt@the-pda.org

Not yet a PDA member?

If you have not yet joined the PDA, we encourage you to join today and ask your colleagues to do the same.

Membership is FREE to pharmacy students, trainee pharmacists and for the first three months of being provisionally registered/newly qualified.

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