If I could do any job? That would have to be a mascot at Old Trafford! [laugh] Sorry, let’s start again!
My name is Aamer Safdar, I am Principal Pharmacist and Lead for Education and Development at Guy’s and St Thomas’s. Today we are in the dispensary at Guy’s hospital. This is the engine room of the pharmacy, so we have lots of staff in here, ranging from Assistants to Pharmacy Technicians to Pharmacists who are supplying medicines for our patients.
So lots of people think that as a Pharmacist all you do is supply medicines. Actually there is a load more that we do, there is a lot more thinking that we do before we can even give medicines to our patients. This is who you are, this is your medical history, these are the conditions that you have, these are the medicines that you’ve been prescribed, these could be your allergies, this could be the dose that you need, is it the right drug in the first place? We do all of that, before we give it to the patient. And once we’ve given it to the patient, it’s about making sure that the patient understands what they are going to do with that tablet, that inhaler, or that cream. So imagine you have asthma and you didn’t know how to use your inhaler properly, and you have an asthma attack and you didn’t know how to use your inhaler, you’re not going to get the benefit of that treatment, therefore it could make things worse.
I was working in a community pharmacy when I was a 17 year old. I was always interested in science; when I was doing my GCSEs and A-Levels I was very good at science and I liked the science subjects the Pharmacist that I worked with at the time recommended pharmacy as a career. So I looked into that as a career option and looked at the university that I wanted to go to, and applied to university to do Pharmacy. I ended up doing my training here at Guy’s and St Thomas’s and I stayed here ever since.
We have lots and lots of training and support in this hospital. And we train our staff from the entry point, when they come in and start as support staff, we can develop them into other a Pharmacy Technician or a Pharmacist. When they training to be a Pharmacist, they get one year worth of training with me, looking after them to make sure they‘ve got the skills they need to be a Pharmacist.
You need to be patient, you need to have diplomacy, you need to be tactful, you need to have resilience because it’s a challenging work environment, and you need to have really thick skin sometimes because you have to make decisions that people don’t like. The most important thing is to have an understanding of what that role involves before you go through it. Do some research, look into it, find out what the career is about, then the next thing would be to get some work experience in that area; so get into community pharmacies, go into a hospital, just spend a few days, see what is going on and if you like it and if that’s something you’d be interested in. And then, start thinking about your A-Levels, and if you’re already doing your A-Levels, start thinking about which university you want to go to. And after that, start thinking about where you want your career to go, is it in a hospital, is it in a community pharmacy, where is it? And then start making contact with those people and developing a career in that way.
The coolest thing I did, was a couple of weeks back when I was asked to take part in a TV advert, so I did some shooting a bit like this, but I had to follow a script. I thought it was really cool because I’ve done something like that before and it’s really cool because it’s on YouTube and it’s going to go on national TV.
A few words from Aamer
I manage the education and training team within Guy’s & St’ Thomas’ Hospital Pharmacy. I’m also responsible for managing the pre-registration pharmacists. Outside of the hospital, I spend time lecturing at both King’s College London (KCL) and University College London (UCL). In addition, I also work within the pharmacy dispensary to dispense drugs for our patients, and am dispensary team leader over the weekends.
Exciting aspects of Aamer's job
Every day is different, which keeps the job exciting.
It’s essential to be prepared for anything, and be prepared to face the unexpected.
I find it rewarding to see the results of our training in our staff.
A big part of my job satisfaction is working alongside those that I had originally trained.
Knowing that our training directly feeds into excellent patient care makes this job hugely exciting.
The world around us is constantly changing, which throws us new challenges each and every day. With an increasing number of patient contacts, my biggest challenge is finding new and efficient ways of delivering training to our staff whilst allowing staff to complete their operational duties.
- GCSEs minimum 5 including Maths, English and Sciences
- A-Levels or equivalent
- MPharm degree
- Registration as a pharmacist with the General Pharmaceutical Council