How are you today?
Hello! I am not bad thank you. It’s a little weird having the boot on the other foot, considering I’m normally the one asking the questions and not answering them. So we shall see how this pans out…
What made you want to start this blog?
Looking back, my fourth year project looked at the motivating factors affecting past, present and future admissions into Pharmacy; and that was the highlight of my whole four-year degree. So in essence, having studied a science based degree, I was doing more of a social science dissertation; and this was for me where I initially found my perfect mix of people and pharmacy.
Pre-registration for me was the toughest, and most testing part of my life, so far. There was no extra time, to even explore the blend of people and pharmacy as it literally revolved around work and being bogged down with studying or writing up competencies. So if you happen to be a pre-registration pharmacist reading this, don’t worry I can totally relate to your half-zombie state right now; the good news is it does get better.
So back to me, qualifying happened, and life really changed for me. For the first time since university, I was able to start exploring the concept of putting pharmacy and people together. Initially, it started off as me giving advice based on what I’ve experienced; but then I begun reflecting on what I would want to do in my career as a pharmacist. I knew there were a lot of roles out there, but what do they really involve and is it something I could actually do? So the Pharmacist Diaries was born from that, my own curiosity of discovering the different roles of pharmacists, in an attempt to figure out what on earth to do next with my life (I still have no clue).
Similarly, it was reflection again that brought me to begin The Patient Diaries, patients are their experts in their own health, and we as pharmacists are the experts in medicine and it was about bringing them both closer together. By letting patients have a say on living with and managing their own health; and us as pharmacists reflecting on their experiences and seeing if there’s anything else we can do to help people with these conditions. Secondary to that, both these concepts raise the profile of the role of pharmacists and medical conditions to the general public, so there’s more than one purpose to both these themes. To top it off, I write my own features, expressing my own views on the goings on in the world of pharmacy.
Are there any similarities in starting the blog and wanting to become a pharmacist?
Good question! For me the main reason I wanted to become a pharmacist was because I enjoyed the idea of joining a profession where you can help make a difference to people’s lives by interacting with them. So I definitely feel that the Patient Diaries is a continuation of that. By bringing in different people, and their perspectives so we can reflect on our practice as professionals, and actually get to understand each other a little better in order to help provide better care.
I remember 10 years ago, how for me studying pharmacy was a safe option in terms of if I didn’t like and I really hated it, the degree itself gave me transferable skills I could use elsewhere, as it is a well-respected degree. I didn’t stumble into the profession by accident, but it’s that voice inside your head that’s like what if it doesn’t work out, hence why I if I was going to spend £9,000 a year studying a degree I wanted something to become of it. This blog itself doesn’t lend to the more traditional roles of pharmacy. But I have learnt skills, in particular communication, over the years and these have all come from the undergraduate course, pre-reg and my mere months as a pharmacist and they’re being showcased on this very platform.
How long have you been writing for?
This isn’t my first blog. I have written blog posts before whilst I was at university, however I wasn’t happy with the content I was putting out, so I binned the whole thing. I did try and restart again under a different name, but I came across the same problems (along with writers block), and that got deleted too. Those were all non-pharmacy based blogs, just life and general chitchat blogs – even though posts would be very infrequent, so there wasn’t really much chitchatting going on.
I conjured up the name The Pintsized Pharmacist, during pre-reg but I had nothing to write about; so it remained blank. Back last year in August, my creativity finally started to kick in (after a very long time). Initially, I featured few advice posts, and then the idea of the Patient Diaries and The Pharmacist Diaries came about. I hadn’t seen these two themes explored through social media, so I thought it was a pretty unique concept, one that could grow and most importantly one I wouldn’t get sick of. I just went ahead with what I had envisioned – and I haven’t really looked back.
How do you chose a topic to write about?
The Pharmacist Diaries – I look to find people from all different realms of pharmacy and various settings; so it’s just the case of planning which role I’m going to feature next and not just focusing on one particular setting, or view point, so it’s not mundane and boring.
The Patient Diaries – Initially, it was pretty random and it was about approaching people who were quite vocal about their health conditions. But then I had this plan of matching features up to certain health campaigns or awareness days during the year; but that hasn’t quite worked in terms of posting the content on time. It has become a little bit random again lately, but I’ve kept the content varied. I just need to look at approaching people earlier so I can promote features in line with these awareness months/weeks/days. Having said that, if I come across a feature and I’m like wow people need to read this, I just end up posting it.
The Pintsized Pharmacist Speaks – These posts are mainly influenced by my day-to-day life as a locum, and my experiences as a pharmacist. But, I also use this platform as a place to talk about my own views on the latest developments in pharmacy, or things that I think should be brought to attention and spoken about more.
Another thing that I’ve noticed, the people who share their experiences also inspire me when it comes to topics; sometimes it’s a continuation of that particular area but from other role or a view point – so thank you to all those who have featured for being so inspiring.
How do you go about asking people to write their stories, particularly your patients?
You know how Beyoncé is Beyoncé; but when she’s performing on stage she’s Sacha Fierce – it’s a bit like that. So in my professional life I sign in as the Responsible Pharmacist and don’t use that setting to approach patients.
In the beginning, some of my initial posts involved me reaching out to people who I knew, and asking them if they fancied featuring on my blog. Now, I mainly use social media to approach individuals to feature anonymously on the blog. Pharmacists are easier to approach within pharmacies, but I haven’t featured a pharmacist I’ve worked with…yet. I message them explaining what my blog is about, sending them a link to have a read, and asking them if they want to feature.
I think that’s an easier way for people to make up their own mind about whether they want to feature. I could send them a message and they can politely decline, or just not respond; and that’s completely fine too. This isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and sometimes life happens and people just can’t commit because they have other priorities and I appreciate that. Especially with patients, asking them in person puts them on the spot. Sending people a message online gives them the time and space to decide if they want to feature and reply if it’s something they want to do.
Do I appreciate people asking if they can feature?
Of course! I want this to be a platform where people feel they can get involved. So if you’re reading this and you’re like hmmm I fancy a feature on this page – drop me an email and we can make this happen.
Do I appreciate receiving feedback (whether its good or bad)?
I do appreciate feedback; in fact I don’t get enough of it. I can see the engagement with each post, but it’s always nice to have people comment or message saying how they liked a particular post.
I haven’t had any proper negative feedback I would say. I have had someone say I should take this concept and put myself on YouTube. I know for me personally, I don’t have the confidence to put myself out there, although full credit to those who do. Arranging a mutual time and meeting up with participants and filming would also be hugely time consuming and very dificult.
Again, with the anonymity I have had people question this rule. I want to create a platform where people can honestly air their views without fear that anything negative they do say can be traced back to them. I feel that’s quite important, in order to get the less sugarcoated version of the truth. But if you do have any feedback, good or bad, do drop me an email!
What new topics should we expect to feature?
With the Patient Diaries, there will be features on: colitis, leukaemia, and laser hair removal coming up this year. The next posts to be featured in Pharmacist Diaries are roles in a hospital setting – so do keep your eyes peeled for those. The Pintsized Pharmacist Speaks posts – I’ve got an idea on doing features on the extra courses I’m doing, the structure of the pharmacy programme, and maybe my experience with earlobe repair surgery (when I get round to doing it).
What will you do when your blog makes you rich and famous?
This blog is more pintsized than myself – and I’m only five foot one and a bit! So currently there is no money, but one can dream of getting rich; and there are always plenty of things out there for me to spend my money on. So hypothetically if this blog did make me rich, I would follow my favourite cricket team around the world, gift my parents an early retirement, and buy a house. In terms of famous, that is quite difficult to imagine. My idea of famous would be for more people to become aware of the existence of this blog, and for more people to get involved through comments and features and being influenced by what they read. Not the typical kind of famous; but making my mark in my own way. Who knows where the future will take me? In the meantime, I’ll keep posting on here, and I’ll continue to leave my “autograph” every time I check a prescription.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and thank you for reading. Please do feel free to email me on email@example.com if you would like to collaborate on a feature or if you have any comments or suggestions. In the meantime, like, comment, and share this post. If you want to keep up with the latest posts scroll down and click on that follow button!