What I have learnt from working across a wide variety of pharmacy sectors

In our latest member voice article, Pearl J D’souza, a pharmacist that has worked across a wide variety of sectors, shares why she became a pharmacist and why it is important to protect ourselves and our colleagues so that we are available to provide the best possible care for patients. Pearl also talks about discrimination and equality and offers advice to pharmacy students and pre-regs.

Thu 6th May 2021 The PDA

I was never really working towards a specific career goal; I was quite easily distracted and indecisive at 17-years-old. This concerned my father; he is a pharmacist himself and became the driving force for my career and my independence.

I am an overseas pharmacist and after completing my degree in India, I decided to gain a MSc in clinical pharmacy at ULSOP; I then went on to complete my registration year and have been practising ever since.

Making the move from a sheltered Indian environment to a completely independent education system came with its own set of challenges. Let’s just say I am still learning, and I don’t think this will stop anytime soon.

After working in various NHS sectors, I have found the airport and prison environments to be the most challenging. Working with substance dependence and misuse is very intriguing and rewarding. I like the interaction with colleagues, patients, and the lack of boredom at my place of work.

After 10 years’ pharmacy experience, I can proudly say that as a profession, we have persistently made known ‘the essentiality of our existence’ in every sector, but this has just scratched the surface and we have a long way to go.

“I have experienced discrimination in my career, and I feel that every pharmacist at some point has experienced some form of discrimination while working in every field of pharmacy.”

There are many ways we can work to overcome discrimination. First and foremost, we need to be representing ourselves, our profession, and our colleagues with pride. We should not hesitate when addressing discrimination and intolerance based on gender, race, disability, religion, in or outside of, work. We need to be united in our voice together, support, lift each other up and luckily, we have a very strong backing in the form of the PDA.

We can only protect our patients when we protect ourselves and our colleagues first.

“Pharmacists have been working relentlessly on the frontline thus self-care and mental health have been severely impacted.”

The shortfall of healthcare can be minimised when we protect ourselves and each other so that we are available to provide the best possible care for our patients.

We have a lot more available to us in terms of resources and PPE now than during the first wave of the pandemic. The regular and latest updates from Public Health England and GOV.UK in spreading awareness has considerably helped the healthcare sector.

When looking at pharmacy post-pandemic in terms of opportunities, I don’t think there will be a lack of them considering the current deficit we have in healthcare. Mental health has fallen off the scale because every single one of us has worked in unprecedented situations and it has affected each of us and our families more than we know.

We need to prepare for the post-pandemic economy, I believe this will be a difficult challenge for all of us.

One of my proudest achievements while being a PDA rep and member is being able to question the wrongs of corporates with the backing of a strong union and setting an example by instilling confidence amongst peers.

After what I have learnt during this pandemic, it is clear that we need more mentors, mental health advocates and minds in research. That is what I would aspire to do in the future. My aspiration for the future of pharmacy is strong representation in every healthcare sector and for ourselves working with the PDA.

Remember to represent your profession with pride, join the union and get the support you deserve.

Advice and support for pharmacy students and pre-regs

Pharmacy is not a restrictive degree, and I would advise every student to keep an open mind about the field they want to pursue. We need a lot of young academic minds in research and development and who better than a pharmacy student that learns about drugs from the molecular to the cellular level. We need them now more than ever.

From personal experience I would recommend that every single student and pre-reg join the PDA. The PDA represents us on the collective issues and protects our interests and will also assist us when we need individual support such as a grievance process (even out of working hours). The PDA also follows up with members afterwards too. This is vital support when members need it most.

Pearl J D’souza, Pharmacist 

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