How to get involved?

If you are reading this at the moment feel free to comment on the posts below, share the posts themselves and don’t forget to follow the blog itself so you’re up to date with all the latest posts! 

If you want to feature on this blog or even have any suggestions or comments feel free to email me: thepintsizedpharmacist@gmail.com.  

Looking forward to hearing from you, and keep your eyes peeled for the next post

 

The Pintsized Pharmacist

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The Patient Diaries and The Pharmacist Diaries

Apologies for being MIA, I’ve literally been running from one pharmacy to another, to the point I really need to think about investing in a pair of ugly work shoes because my feet feel 100 years old.

But but but, I have been working behind the scenes coming up with new content/concepts. So I thought I would give you a heads up as to what they are actually about. The Patient Diaries is a platform where patients can anonymously share information about living with their condition and managing it, and their experiences with pharmacy. It’s all about raising awareness of the conditions, for not only the public but also pharmacy healthcare professionals to introspect if they can improve the level of care they are currently giving to their patients.

Moving forward, The Pharmacist Diaries is a platform whereby Pharmacists in different roles can anonymously give an insight into what their role entails, and inspire others. Given that the role of Pharmacists is ever-changing, this would be a good for someone who is considering to study Pharmacy to see what roles there are currently out there and for those who are considering a change in career as a pharmacist. As I am writing this, I’ve literally just thought pharmacists can also share their pits and peaks of their day to day life anonymously. That would be a pretty cool concept I think…

Regardless, give me feedback on what you think; good or bad. I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who is participating in these interviews, this would not have been able to happen without you. I am so so thankful. Lastly, if you’re reading this and you have something you would like to share, contact me and let me know!

The Pintsized Pharmacist

Uncovered: The life of a Working Mum within pharmacy

What sparked your interest with regards to pursuing a career in pharmacy?

I actually wasn’t planning on studying pharmacy; but it just happened that way! I wanted to become an optician or go down the orthoptist route however, I didn’t get the correct A-Level grades. I had either the option of re-taking the year again to get the correct grades but I was weary I may be in the same situation next year if I don’t get the grades again or go into clearing where I had secured a place to study pharmacy. Yes in them days (year 2000) the pharmacy degree was still available through clearing! Me being me and didn’t want to take any risks I went on to study pharmacy. I knew it was a good career (then it was…maybe not so much now!) as I had many cousins/uncles/aunts already in the profession.

What were your role/s before pregnancy and what did that involve?

I completed my pre-registration 2004-2005 in a Boots flagship store and during my year I worked two weeks in a hospital setting. I totally loved the varied role pharmacist had in a primary care setting and decided very quickly that I wanted to pursue my career in a hospital setting.

As soon as I qualified I went down the hospital pharmacy route. I was a rotational pharmacist for a NHS trust for just over 2 years; my role involved rotating throughout the three hospitals in various posts ranging from a ward based pharmacist on surgical/cardiac/acute admissions wards to outpatient clinics to on call night duty. Due to the low pay scales I decide to leave and go back to community as I wanted to buy a house which I couldn’t afford to do with my hospital salary.

I went back to working for Boots and have worked in many different roles: a second pharmacist, pharmacist in charge, and the ultimate role of store manager. I felt personally I had completed as much as I could within one company and was eager to go onto my next challenge.

I left Boots and pursed a career with Lloyds as a store manager in a small village setting which did about 10,000 items a month. This is where my career progression came to an end; as I started my own family!!!

Did your pregnancy impact your day to day life working as a pharmacist and how so?

I was lucky enough to work for a large multiple which supported me during my first pregnancy. I was able to attend all my pre-natal doctor and hospital appointments without taking time off work. I was a store manager at the time of my first pregnancy, and my area manager would often complete risk assessments to make sure I was able to complete my duties in a safe manner. During my final few months of pregnancy, I was transferred to a smaller/quieter pharmacy. In doing so, I was able to work up until 2 months of my due date.

What were the highs and lows of maternity leave…dare I say it but did you ever miss the pharmacy?

I enjoyed my much needed maternity leave but did get miss the mental challenge and talking to patients! Becoming a mum really does change you and having the responsibility of looking after a little one is challenging to say the least however I really did miss my pharmacy life!

How long after giving birth did you return back to work? What role were you undertaking and how did you find it?

I returned back to pharmacy when my son was 8 months old. I was conscious on how dynamic community pharmacy was and wanted to make sure I didn’t loose touch with my profession. For those mums out there I’m sure you can relate to this; that life completely changes after having children and priorities change. I didn’t want to go back full time to my previous pharmacy manager role and decided to go back as a locum for the flexibility. I started out only working 6 hours a week early Saturday mornings in a quiet pharmacy. This helped me get back into pharmacy life again without paying extortionate childcare costs and was able get to grips with everything again. As I wasn’t working full time I was there for all my son’s milestones; enjoyed meeting all my new mum friends for coffee and play days! I was also lucky enough to be selected to work as a pharmacist at the London 2012 Olympics. I would have never been able to do this working full time and looking after a little one.

What is your current role and what responsibilities does it entail?

Nearly eight years on from having my first child, I’m still working as a locum. Locuming has given me the flexibility to be there for my children whilst they are growing up. I tend to work locally on the weekends and evenings. I only work on average 12 hours a week!

What are the best and worst bits about your current job role and why?

Being a locum mostly working weekends and evenings I tend to get all the standard ‘locum jobs’ such as the weekly CD balance check and nomad checking. I do not like doing the weekly balance check as it is very tedious and time consuming task. I honestly feel the weekly CD balance shouldn’t be conducted by a locum and should be a regular member of staff. This way any discrepancies can be resolved very promptly, as regular members of staff as more aware of which controlled drugs have been received and given out in the pharmacy.

On a day to day basis, how do you manage juggling a family with pressures from work?

I would say it’s more like the other way around! My family is my upmost priority. In the weekdays daytime I’m a mum doing cooking; cleaning; ironing; supporting my kids homework; the school/nursery drop off and pick up; after school clubs swimming, football, cub scouts; piano practice etc. Weekends and sometime evenings I go to work to get away from all the pressures of family life!

Do you see yourself staying in the same job role for the foreseeable future or changing to another, and why?

Ideally, I don’t want to stay as a locum for the rest of my career. I see the locuming role as a foothold whilst my kids are young and they need me.

Give us an idea on something that you think would revolutionise pharmacy or an idea that currently is, and why you thinks its amazing?

There are several things I would like to change nationwide in community pharmacy.

I am a strong believer that patients should have full control and onus on ordering their repeat medications.Most pharmacies nowadays have a system whereby the pharmacy automatically orders their repeat medication on a montly/two monthly basis. I believe this responsibility should be solely on the patient as the pharmacy itself can’t manage processing all the repeats requests and then cross reference to the original request to ensure all items have been received.Patients are forgetting what items have been ordered and when they are due for collection which results in stock pilling of drugs and avoidable emergency supplies.

I would like to reduce the habit of over ordering and thereby ultimately reduce the quantiles of unopened returned medications. Majority of the patients are entitled to free medications due to exemptions. People are happy to buy a sandwich, coffee or ready meal for £5 so why not on medication for your health? I would like to introduce a nominal charge for medication of £5 per prescription (not per item) hopefully this will actually make patients think twice and check how much medication they have a t home before ordering more.

Overall, do you enjoying being a working mum, and what advice would you give to other working mums or any pharmacists who are planning to become pregnant?

I do enjoy being a working mum and having the best of both worlds. Life really does change after having children (for the better in most ways). Enjoy your free time before you have kids! Go travelling, work abroad and change your role at work/career as these things are hard to do after having kids.

Happy Mothers day to all mums and mums to be! Life is too short. Make sure you do what’s right for you and don’t make decisions to make other people happy.

Back to basics – The education and training of pharmacists

Welcome back to the blog. Today is going to be a little piece on the education and training of pharmacists and me just expressing my views, on the latest developments.

Education

Currently, in order to become a pharmacist you need to study the four year undergraduate course. However, there has been talk of integrating the pre-registration year and making it a five year course; so you would be graduating and qualifying at the same time. In my opinion, having two different placements within that five year period would bring about a better calibre of individuals joining the profession.

For me personally, I didn’t pass the pre-registration on my first attempt, and I undertook a six month placement incase I didn’t pass the second time so I could sit it for the third time (but luckily it never came to that). The six month placement that I undertook was still within the community pharmacy setting, but with another company. The experience itself allowed me to learn different operating systems, processes and working with different people. However, the whole journey and that too in different settings allowed me to grow so much as an individual. The biggest asset I gained was my confidence, which did get knocked and a bit lost during the whole process.

Before in my first setting, I was very much inclined to follow the path that so many others before me had done so – because it was known and it was very much the done thing. The six month placement made me realise, actually I there isn’t a one size fits all and it’s okay to actually do things a little differently and figure things out yourself.

That’s exactly what I have done since qualifying, I’ve decided to locum and walk in and out of different pharmacies on a daily basis, something I would have disregarded had I not failed the first time and switched companies. However, for future pharmacists they should be exposed to more than one role or setting during their pre-registration year as chances are the way the profession is evolving, they are not going to remain in that role from qualifying until retirement. More so, I believe it makes them more rounded individuals. 

The pharmacy course itself will equip you with all the knowledge you will need with regards to medicines and drugs. It does not teach you anything about how to encounter: some of the people you work with, the patients you treat or how to manage your own work-life balance. It is from these experiences you grow as a person; both professionally and personally. Hence why, I believe a five year integrated course would provide better pharmacists, and in turn help provide better patient care. I appreciate that the logistically this would be a very complex task for universities, placement providers and those involved in the allocation process to achieve this, however I see it as an investment in the people who will then go onto ensure and safeguard the health and wellbeing of the future.

Training

It doesn’t end with the masters degree in hand, and your name on the GPhC register, in fact that’s when it all begins. For me I was fortunate enough to become aware of the RPS Foundation Programme and other accredited versions during pre-reg and my six month programme.

When I qualified I knew that I wanted to get on this course purely to enhance my skills, confidence and consulate a platform, from which I could then grow and develop further as a pharmacist; and I did just that. So far it has been a very positive experience; one that I would highly recommend!

But not everyone gets this extra support, as it is currently not mandatory. For me, my own perception of the role of a pharmacist has been challenged; it is possible to simultaneously have more than one role. Furthermore, the feedback you get provided is invaluable. For me, the feedback I have been given has been constructive and made me reflect on my own practice at work; something that I never get the time to do, given that I’m constantly moving from one task to another.

For me the biggest question the foundation continues to throw at me time and time again is what next? I have an idea (well actually several) as to what avenue to pursue next, but I haven’t quite committed. But it has broadened my horizons and given me a deeper insight into the realm of pharmacy. I feel this is an opportunity that every newly qualified should have as, it does give extra support and guidance. Any particular skills that need working on can be identified and further developed in order to help a newly-qualified pharmacists career.

Furthermore, one of the reasons I developed this blog was to showcase all the different and varied roles of pharmacists. Currently, there isn’t a pathway that demonstrates how or what skills and qualifications are necessary to get to different roles; let alone which ones are more senior.I strongly believe that every single role in pharmacy needs to be looked at and dissected; in terms of skill set and knowledge required. By doing this, it would be possible to tailor the education and training for current and future roles, from the foundation programme to the undergraduate course itself.

In doing so, it would give every newly qualified the same platform to develop as a pharmacist and have a clearer pathway for career progression. More so, by looking at the core skills and qualifications it would be easier to identify other roles a pharmacist could undertake; should they want a change from their current role. Again, a lot of time and effort and investment would need to go into creating a pharmacy framework the maps all the different roles, especially keeping it up to date, but it is long overdue in the profession in my opinion.

Consultation

The GPhC is currently holding a consultation on this matter and I have shared some of my own views and opinions here; which you may or may not agree with. I know the news seems to be full to the brim with Brexit and it’s updates, however in order to maintain and further improve our profession it’s vital as many of us get involved. Unfortunately, if we as pharmacists don’t speak up for our profession, no-one else is going to do that for us. Particularly to those who are newly qualified, we have the opportunity to speak up and raise valid points about where the current training has brought us so far, and where we need to be. The pharmacy profession itself is changing rapidly, there are currently roles available that did not even exist at the beginning of my undergraduate degree. Change is necessary in order to bring about pharmacists, with the skills they need, in order to combat the current and future problems within the healthcare sector. I strongly believe a diversity in education and training would allow for this.

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Feel free to like, comment, share and scroll down and click follow to keep up with the latest posts. 

Uncovered: The Life of a Band 7 Rotational Pharmacist

Welcome, to the blog; tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well this is a tough one!! I would say I am an individual who seem to think about others’ feelings and thoughts when it comes around making decisions both personally and professionally. Now that can be good and bad at times. It’s not very easy for me to say no to people, but if I have to I DO!! I guess that’s it.

First of all, what made you enter the world of pharmacy?

I wanted to do medicine and as things didn’t go the way I wanted, I went down the route of opting for pharmacy ( after having had advice from friends and family too). However, my general interest in healthcare is driven by helping people, being at the frontline and getting the job satisfaction I always wanted.

Which setting did you do your pre-registration placement in; and what was the most important thing you took from that year.

I did my pre reg in community sector, which wasn’t my preferred option. Having said that, I did enjoy my training and do believe I’ve had a valuable training experience.

Pre-reg Year is an intense year of training and it is all overwhelming when it gets to the final stage of preparing for your exam. Of things all the things I’ve learnt I believe you have got to be professional at all times including: dealing with challenging patients, to working under pressure, and to be a team player. Always be honest (no matter how wrong things end up), know your priorities and stay focused and dedicated to the job.

To all pharmacy students and pre-regs out there, pre-reg year would be the toughest hurdle you would ever come across but you should know that you would be picking up all the valuable skills (or some may have done already during uni) that you need for survival. You just have to keep telling yourself that you can do it and never give up on it at any point.

Tell us about your job title, and how you came about acquiring the role and what motivated you to do so?

I knew I didn’t want to stay in community for longer than my pre-reg, even though the pay is far better, but it wouldn’t be something I would enjoy doing in my day to day life.  But I still considered locuming for a while just that I don’t forget what I learnt and to experience the whole idea of being a responsible pharmacist.

After pre-reg, I have applied for a hospital position right away and started my career as a band 6 rotational pharmacist.  I did locum work on weekends whilst training up in hospital and I realised most of my colleagues did so; as it was worth the money and experience.

So I started my band 6 journey (4-5 months rotations) working across medicines information, acute admissions unit including A&E, plus medical and surgical wards. I was also rota’d to do Education & Development where I would be supervising university students for their placements (delegating patients for their care plans, assessing them on their counselling and also undertaking screening exercises), being an assessor for undergraduate OSCE’s and other learning/teaching duties.

Now just as in community, you would be known as a a foundation pharmacist for the first two years after qualifying and would be expected to do a postgraduate course to fill in those gaps that you may attain as a junior pharmacist. I was opted to do the postgraduate diploma in pharmacy clinical practice (some of you may have seen PGDip written after the names of those academics/pharmacists you know of). That is another 2.5 years of hard work and battle which is fully funded by NHS England (£4K). Now it is not a necessity for you to remain in NHS, however there would not be a career progression if you would like to continue in hospital (or as they say for better pay) unless you want to switch to another sector maybe.

Currently, I am working as a Band 7 rotational pharmacist in cancer services- more specifically Aseptics. This position also covers haematology and oncology wards, paediatric oncology including general paediatrics and may involve some clinical trials.

I always wanted to work as a clinical pharmacist, advising doctors on incorrect prescribing, interpreting blood results and asking prescribers to adjust doses accordingly. I feel valued by intervening on a clinical basis and by ensuring that  patient safety is not compromised. Though I am not sure if I want to specialise in this area for the rest of my career.

What roles and responsibilities does your job entail?

As mentioned above I have undertaken rotations amongst those wards and have ensured my core clinical duties are met each day – such as taking drug histories on new admissions and screening their drug charts, reviewing critically ill patients and making interventions appropriately, completing ttos’ (discharge meds “to take out”) and also counselling patients those who are started on new medications especially high risk ones. My other duties are to contribute to training needs of trainee pharmacists including individual supervision in wards, assessing their performance and giving feedback; also to arrange teaching sessions/therapeutic evenings on a clinical area of choice. I am also responsible to complete emergency on call duty (provision of medication supply, advice and other clinical needs during out of hours, which may also involve supplying meds to other trusts in the region if needed) and also weekend duty providing a dispensary service.

Currently in my position in Aseptics, I am involved in the clinical verification of chemotherapy prescriptions for a range of solid and haematoligical malignancies, supervision of unlicensed aseptic suite, and final release of aseptically prepared chemotherapy.

What are the highlights about working in this role and why?

Although all of this is totally new to me, I believe this is the best platform to learn more about cancer and the treatments available. Of course you would still be able to make interventions by contacting the prescriber after interpreting bloods, about incorrect prescribing, incorrect dosing (as patients BSA changes so we would have to adjust dose accordingly for next cycle of treatment) and also some treatment needs to be capped at a certain point to avoid toxicity. I would say it is  still rewarding and encouraging to learn new things and making recommendations.

Is there anything you don’t like about the job and why?

Working in aseptics wouldn’t give you exposure to direct patient contact that may not give you the sense of satisfaction as much as you get whilst being in wards. You may realise that you are not directly involved in contributing to the duty of care and also you are not working with other healthcare professionals which may make you feel isolated. But once I am back in a clinical environment this changes.

What impact do you think your job has on the world of pharmacy?

The role is evolving on a daily basis as treatments in cancer is getting better and the prognosis also improves. Hence we need more pharmacists to rationalise treatment regime and be at the frontline for improving patients. Cancer itself is an emotional topic and improving patients’ understanding on their treatment can definitely contribute to a better quality of life.

Give us an idea on something that you think would revolutionise pharmacy or an idea that currently is and why you think it’s amazing?

Enabling all pharmacists to prescribe from day one could change the system immensely and can have a huge impact on patient care. I believe incorporating prescribing course within undergraduate training and somehow merge the final assessment within the pre-registration year, could bring out better pharmacists and could significantly improve patient time. This could possibly reduce frequent GP visits, reduce hospital admissions and length of stay in hospitals, reduces medicines wastage and also could encourage deprescribing where possible.

Overall, do you enjoy your job role and would you recommend others to undertake this role?

YES YES YES!! The transition from being an undergraduate student to a full time employee was hard and it did a take few months to get used to the new life. Everything you do on your day to day life can improve patient care, even if you consider it small such as when switching from tablets to capsules or liquids and many more.

After all of those years of battling, including  staying up for all-nighters, I would highly recommend pharmacy as a profession; as it makes a huge difference to people’s lives. I may be biased by saying hospital pharmacy can provide you with much more benefits and further opportunities to build your career, but pharmacy as a profession does bring out the best experts in medicines.

There are people who have come from a community background and perceive it to be too hard to get into a hospital setting. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to switch settings? 

“I am doing my pre registration in community so there’s no chance to get a job in hospital after-all so why bother applying…” I have come across that a million times and my answer to that is: “No you are absolutely wrong!!” Looking back at my journey and where I am at the moment proves it. Hospitals do consider hiring people from community as they can train them up in the way they want rather than someone who came from another trust; where the procedures and policies in place may seem to clash. I would highly recommend to apply right away after pre-reg or especially in those foundation years, as you have a better chance of getting a place in hospital rather than applying later in life.

Finally, what advice would you give to anyone what wants to undertake your current role?

The job is tough, so ensure you do a lot of research around the area and read the job description properly. Before anything, write down all those skills you have which matches the person or job specification and use examples from your past experiences in your personal statement or at the interview (as they adore hearing about your amazing skills and the way you tackle challenging situations and conflicts). There are lots of CPD entries to do, as you are learning everyday so do carry a notepad and pen with you. Other than that, just be professional, willing to care and to demonstrate responsibilities. Patient care should be your first priority (just keep that in your head at all times and mention it at least once in your interview).

Any other comments?

Good luck to all drug dealers out there (I mean LEGAL ones)!! You guys are gonna make a difference to people’s lives!! Keep calm and remember your mechanisms of actions 🙂

Uncovered: The Pintsized Pharmacist

 

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 thepintsizedpharmacist@gmail.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! 

 

 

HIV+ & Me

Welcome to the blog! Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do in your spare time?

I work as a Data Analyst in Birmingham. I enjoy cycling, climbing, watching movies.

Tell us a little bit about your condition and your symptoms and how long you had it for?

I have been living with HIV since December 2011. Previously, I was a regular blood donor and I was diagnosed with HIV after donating blood; and the blood going through a screening process. It was picked up very early so I was lucky. I currently do not have or have suffered from any symptoms. I am undetectable, which means the virus is suppressed in my body.

What medicines did you take initially? Did they help, and did you have any side effects?

I started on Atripla, a once a day tablet. I have never had any side effects to this medication or any of the others I have been on.  The meds helped me become undetectable which means the HIV virus is suppressed and I can’t pass it on.

What medicine/s are you currently taking and is it helping manage your condition?

I now take Eviplera, once a day.  My medication has become part of a daily routine,  and it’s not a chore to take.  I automatically know to take it when I have my dinner in the evening.  This medication helps me stay undetectable.

Are you taking anything that isn’t prescribed that you think helps your condition?

No

Does your condition impact your day to day life; how if so?

Not at all. I am fit and healthy, and can do all the things I want to do.

With regards to your condition; do you feel pharmacists or the pharmacy staff in any way have helped you manage your condition?

My clinic pharmacists are always helpful – they discuss how my medicines work, and answer any questions I have.

Do you think there’s anything pharmacists or pharmacies can do to help yourself, or others like yourself with this condition?

With regards to community pharmacy, the pharmacists and the team there can help choose suitable products for HIV+ patients by using this website to check interactions against medicines used for HIV – https://www.hiv-druginteractions.org/checker

What would you like to say to anyone out there reading this who has your condition?

HIV is manageable – it does not have to hold you back, and you can do anything you want.

Any other comments?

Let’s talk about HIV more to make it less of a taboo and raise awareness. HIV testing also needs to be more widely promoted. HIV can affect anybody regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender or race; so everyone should take a test without feeling stigmatised.

 

 

 

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