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Pharmacy(MPharm) and Aesthetics



  • Name:Chinwe

  • Job Title: PCN Clinical pharmacist

  • A levels/ equivalent - Biology,chemistry,geography

  • Undergrad and post grad degrees :

Pharmacy (Mpharm)



  • Briefly describe your current role

I currently work as a clinical pharmacist in a GP setting, my main role revolves around looking after care homes in our primary care network. I conduct structured medication reviews (SMR) for the care home residents - this is a holistic review of patients (from a pharmacological and non-pharmacological perspective) looking at everything from their medication to their eating habits, assessing their frailty and falls risk - this involves a lot of information gathering and is personalised to each patient. From a medication point of view - unnecessary polypharmacy is an issue the NHS is trying to tackle, especially for care home residents. This is something that is incorporated into my reviews and often involves a lot of deprescribing. I also conduct reviews and medicines optimisation for some long term conditions e.g. hypertension. This can involve initiating a new drug, organising monitoring, follow-ups and any relevant blood tests.


  • What motivated you to pursue a career in science? - I always had an interest in science from a young age, a seed that was definitely planted by my parents. In secondary school I naturally gravitated to the sciences and really enjoyed those subjects. However, in sixth form I discovered other scientific careers outside of medicine and pharmacy felt like a good fit especially when I thought about the work/life balance.

Journey in 3 Words - surprising, challenging, rewarding

 

Polypharmacy is a term used to describe the situation when people are taking a number of medicines

 


  • What is a typical week like for you? Would you describe your role as varied or predictable and how does that tie into your personality?

Right now I am in control of what my week looks like, but it would generally involve a few visits to some of the care homes I look after (there are 5) - this can be for various reasons e.g. medicines optimisation or general care home queries.


Some days I work from home when I have a lot of admin based tasks. The care homes have constant access to me via email and I receive a lot of queries this way. This can be anything from; clarifying dosing instructions, urgent prescription requests, missing prescriptions or microbiology forms,blood test requests, queries about out of stock medications and alternatives.


I would describe my role as varied, but there are some parts that are predictable e.g prescription queries - these never end.


I think this role works well with my personality, I am someone who genuinely enjoys learning and I love that I am able to learn everyday. I would say this is the biggest advantage to working in a GP/ clinical setting. When I was in the community I felt like things became very repetitive for me and almost mundane and I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to exercise the clinical part of my brain.


  • How did you get better at the interview process when applying for this role?

I watched lots of YouTube videos to help me prepare for the interview questions and also researched the role I was interviewing for thoroughly. Time and practice also play a part - I definitely accepted some interviews just to get the practice in especially as I hadn’t interviewed for anything in 3 years.


  • Is there an experience/ conversation that has heavily impacted your career journey?

Definitely ! Being a pharmacy manager at 23, immediately after qualifying as a pharmacist and my first official job as a pharmacist. I had to learn how to manage people that were significantly older than me. I had the final say on the day to day running of the pharmacy. As a branch manager I also had to think of things from a business perspective - something I’ve never done before. Ultimately it made me grow at an exponential rate, but this came at a cost. I worked really long hours and didn’t really have a work/life balance. It felt like I was living to work and was burnt out. I also felt like I’d “peaked” in this sector and couldn’t see how I could grow further. This eventually led to me leaving this position for the one I’m in now.


  • Have you been able to take care of yourself and maintain a good work-life balance currently? ( Any tips/ realistic struggles you are currently dealing with?)

I am definitely able to take care of myself better now. I am still learning how to truly “switch off” and leave work at work.

With my current role I have to be enrolled on an 18 month long course, which means I’m back to being in full time employment and studying on the side. So I always have to put everything into a calendar so I don’t miss deadlines and give myself enough time to prepare for my assessments which can be challenging sometimes.


  • Knowing what you know now, would you have done the same undergrad degree

I would, as difficult as it was , especially because the role of pharmacist has evolved so much since my first year of university. I’ll just prepare mentally myself better for the challenge of the pre-registration training year because it’s not spoken about enough.




  • What are the benefits of doing an integrated masters course -

It’s cheaper than doing an undergrad and coming back from a masters, For me personally if I’d graduated from an undergraduate degree I don’t know if I would have returned to university for a masters. Also if i wanted to pursue a more lab-based scientific career and not pharmacy having a masters would have been very beneficial.


  • Did you always imagine you would be at this stage in your career- especially having felt “peaked” at an early stage?

I really didn’t but in university when looking at the different paths I could take in pharmacy I knew I wanted to eventually be in a clinical setting but I didn’t know what that would look like or how I’d get there but looking back the “peak” moment ended up being a stepping stone to where I am now


  • What advice would you give someone wanting to follow the same path ?

I would say always keep your vision or personal goal in mind with whatever you do, be intentional with your actions but if you find yourself in a situation you haven’t planned for that’s still okay there’s always transferable skills to be gained from every position. Also speak to your peers and people you trust for advice or ideas a problem shared is a problem half solved.

  • The Pharmacy world is so vast career wise, what are some key lessons you’ve learnt and what excites you about the field?

I’ve learnt that you should not let fear stop you from exploring whatever you want to. Upskilling is key to progression in any industry, If you have a particular area of interest research into role and try to network with people in that industry (linkedIn is very good for this). I think the evolution of the role of a pharmacist has been very exciting and it feels like we are being used to our full potentials in clinical settings. I have my eye set on completing a prescribing course in the near future too.

  • How have your passions and interests changed since you started thinking of careers? Was there a defining moment for you?

My underlying passion hasn’t changed, I always wanted to be in a field where I helped people in some capacity. When I was in community pharmacy I did this more when I received 111 referrals for minor ailments or had consultations for travel, COVID and flu vaccinations. I realised checking prescriptions was not my favourite thing to do and being a manager taught me that I did not enjoy the “business” part of pharmacy as it felt less patient- centred naturally. Being in a clinical setting I have now developed new interests from different patient interactions and scenarios i’m exposed to.


  • Have you had a mentor? - how has that impacted your career Journey?

No, but I don’t think you need one to get into a PCN clinical pharmacist role. I think for roles in industry then a mentor would be more advantageous.



I finally made the leap during the pandemic, after administering thousands of vaccines and getting feedback from patients and other healthcare professionals on my injection technique.

  • Working as a community pharmacist may not have been for you business wise but you have started an Aesthetics service . What motivated this and how do you see that growing ?


So I started my journey in aesthetics because it was something I’ve had interest in since I discovered the industry in university. Prior to this I was always interested in the beauty industry as a whole and finding something that merged both my scientific background and interest in beauty it felt like a natural fit. I finally made the leap during the pandemic, after administering thousands of vaccines and getting feedback from patients and other healthcare professionals on my injection technique.


With that being said the aesthetics industry in the U.K. is currently unregulated and as someone who’s entire professional career is based on patient centred care it didn’t sit right with me to just complete a short course and embark on injecting. I also sought advice from a cosmetic surgeon and aesthetic practitioner on how to best approach embarking on this journey, this led me to enrol on a “Level 7 diploma in facial aesthetics” course.


I see the business growing naturally because the beauty industry is just so big and there’s a continuous rise in people seeking non-surgical cosmetic procedures. My take is if you’re going to undertake such a procedure even though it’s not “Invasive” it is still a medical procedure and should be carried out by individuals who are knowledgeable on the products being used, licensing, techniques and complications. I’m not for aggressive marketing because ultimately not everyone is a good candidate for these procedures and unfortunately not enough practitioners tell their patients that. In a nutshell I see a natural growth for the business but I am not putting pressure on it or myself because I run the risk of losing sight of why I started in the first place.


  • Outside science how would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as friendly and outgoing. I love a stress free and soft life and I like experiencing new things and having fun.


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