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POWER SERIES: Health Heroine, Tia

My Beauty Squad has a duty to the community of women that want to uplift and empower each other. This Power Series showcases women of different backgrounds, talents and careers and shows how visions begin to come to life when you put your mind to it.

Introducing Tia; clinical pharmacist & avid explorer.

People may not see what goes on behind closed doors, but on a day-to-day basis, what does your job consist of?

To become a pharmacist, I completed a 4 years master of pharmacy and a training year to pass an exam. Now qualified, I work in a busy London hospital as as a rotational clinical pharmacist. This means I rotate through different specialities (renal, surgery, respiratory, paediatrics etc) every four months. I work as the only pharmacist within a mutli-disciplinary team, working closely with doctors, ward and specialist nurses, dieticians, physiotherapists and occupational therapists to name a few.

The actual bread and butter of my job, is patient safety. Essentially to ensure all 26+ patients I look after have the right medication, at the right time.

The definition of right medication is more than sticking a label on a box. (In fact I rarely handle boxes of medication). It entails ‘screening’ drug charts.

To do all of this, an understanding of how the body works, stops working and how the drug fixes it must be known. For each drug, how the drug affects the body and how the body affects the drug, must also be known. This detail goes down to reading blood results, blood pressure, requesting blood levels and knowing what could be contributing to a patient’s deterioration.

In ‘short’:

I ensure patient’s admitted have the appropriate medication prescribed as per their GP/specialists, according to previous diagnosis. This may often be affected by new diagnosis or presenting complaints i.e. renal function, inability to swallow, surgery pending, not able to walk or dehydrated.

I then ensure any new medication again meets their current requirements. Like antibiotics that may ‘interact’ and negatively affect another medication, or the rhythm of their heart, or increase the risk of tendon damage, for example. And then, I ‘optimise’ medication. Queen of drugs yes, but our aim is to ensure they are always kept to the bare minimum, ensuring a patient is safe from disease and side effects. So medication is discontinued when possible.

I spend a lot of my day advising doctors about how and what to appropriately prescribe, what to monitor and when and when to stop medication.

When, hopefully the patient is improving, patients are consulted regarding medication, how to take, monitor and have responsibility of their care. Lastly, and importantly, I communicate with GPs about changes in treatment, the future plan and monitoring.

Did your passion for your Pharmacy begin at home? Or was it something you naturally developed through education?

I think naturally. I’ve always been drawn to how smart the human body is and if not biology, physics and chemist were fascinating. I’m definitely not a very creative being, I’m not really gifted at the Arts. I LOVE history, but I also loved the idea of a job that would definitely lead me directly to a job that made me money!

I did triple science as A Levels and I felt like it was medicine or something else science. Studying 7 years to become a doctor was not appealing, (although I still did 5 and I’m still going!). So I googled science jobs one day at college, and now look at me!

Given the current situation, we imagine that your job within the healthcare sector is difficult and can naturally be overwhelming, how do you deal with this kind of pressure?

Well, currently in this COVID... Probably not as well as I should! Netflix and WhatsApp video chats with my boyfriend and friends keep me sane at the moment. I self isolate every night after work, so yeah, food and I’ve recently taken up knitting!

Also I’m a big talker. At work, laughter and comedy get us through a lot. I speak a lot to my boyfriend about work too, he’s basically a mini pharmacist now, about daily stresses. It’s really hard not to take work home with you. Especially specific patients, their stories stay with you.

What would be one thing you would say to your younger self if you knew what you know now?

Chill! Explore your options! Life is no longer a one stop journey from school, college, university and a job. I’ve travelled plenty and now with my job I’ll be able to economically, but maybe not have the time.

Adulthood will come soon enough, savour the moment.

Being so young and in a field that’s so demanding, how do you keep level headed and enjoy your time off?

Normally, holidays. Regular weekend trips abroad and fun adventures in south east Asia. My relationships with those close to me too. Love a Sunday afternoon board game, with snacks and good company.

I think as you get to work on your first day, you kinda realise, we’re all just muddling through. I still pinch myself and remember that I’m responsible for the care of a lot of people. People with stories and families. In my head before I get to work I think of myself as a young 24 year old who loves to make childish jokes and dance like an idiot. It’s a big difference to when I but my NHS badge around my neck. Although I’m sure my ward team, may see more of my funny side most of the time.

Darker humour is also something I quickly learned to enjoy. I don’t think anyone would stomach a day without it.

What is your power?

The power to book flights with no annual leave booked...

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