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Louise Newell - Specialist Pharmacist

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Meet Louise a Specialist Pharmacist who tells us all about her role and why she chose pharmacy as a career.


00:00:00:02 [Speaker 1]: Yep. I'm Louis I'm Louise Newell and I'm a pharmacist, simple, I'm a HIV stroke, Hep C pharmacist at the moment. Yep.  

00:00:10:06 [Speaker 2]: What would you say frustrates you about how the public understand pharmacy? So are there things that people commonly just underestimate about your role?  

00:00:17:09 [Speaker 1]: Um, it doesn't frustrate me anymore. We all will, uh, be honest about that, but yeah, people initially, especially when I first qualified a long time ago, just assumed we counted tablets, you know, and then obviously it was putting them in boxes and that used to frustrate me, but I'd re retaught with her. Well, I'm a well-paid pill counter, you know, I don't, I didn't mind, but yeah, that is, I think until, and I've only just worked at the hospital, not that long really. And I didn't realize how much pharmacy as a team, not just the pharmacists, um, were 

00:00:46:13 involved in it, to be honest. Yeah.  

00:00:51:01 [Speaker 2]: Let's say if you were, when did you, you said you used to be really frustrated about how would you say it's all you just feel counter, so you did  

00:00:58:03 [Speaker 1]: Well, you just explained that it's a lot more than that really. And I think I left community pharmacy, so I did feel a lot less like a pill counter then when I was in community pharmacy, no, there's anything wrong with that, but it didn't suit me. And even now to be honest, if I were to go back to community pharmacy, it's, it's not like that at all. Now there's new contracts in and things so much more to be done for the patients. Um, so there's, it's just, just moved on and you, you realize the role yourself is a lot more than that, so you can explain it to people.  

00:01:26:16 [Speaker 2]: It sounds like you've found something really excited for you about like pharmacy say you and your community moved. That's I mean, you're finding it a lot more.  

00:01:32:20 [Speaker 1]: Yeah. Um, well I've been qualified 23 years, so 18 of those actually worked in prisons. So that's where I found my big passion for pharmacy. Um, because you realize as well as providing the medication, which is extremely important, um, you're making sure that the patients know how to take it, what they're doing with it. Um, and in prisons it's a whole lot more complicated than that. Um, the first role in the prisons was in the dispensary and managing it, um, which has quite difficult. And then the 

00:02:04:06 second role was being out with the patients as a prescribing pharmacist and repeat dispensing and things like that. So it was a lot more to be done.  

00:02:11:06 [Speaker 2]: You said it was quite difficult. I can imagine. Well, do you want me to,  

00:02:17:18 [Speaker 1]: Um, because you're actually really well, not all the time. There's plenty of patients in there that aren't in it for the, how can I say this? Um, a lot of patients just want the medication, but then there's a lot that actually do really want your help. Um, and I used to prescribe a subscriber in depression, anxiety. So obviously there are quite a few drugs of choice that they might want. So you have to get, you get your head around the people that are real and those that aren't. Um, and once you've got over that and that you are going to prescribe some sleeping 

00:02:48:08 tablets to people that really don't need them. You know, once you got over that fact, you really do help people, people that a lot of the time don't expect help as well. A lot of people are in prisons for, it's not drug dealers and they're they're in there because they don't have any self-confidence no self-esteem. So to help them get over that, it was just, yeah, it's just rewarding. Very rewarding.  

00:03:08:22 [Speaker 2]: What did that help look like? What, what separate out the ones that are really close to,  

00:03:13:07 [Speaker 1]: Um, well, they tell you, you know, they tell you that they're feeling not better. They can come off medication. Eventually they obviously, their future will never know what happened, but they come off illicit drugs and use the ones that you prescribed instead, that sort of thing. So you can see really the changes that, uh, that they, um, that you're helping them make and the choices you're helping them make. Yeah.  

00:03:39:23 [Speaker 2]: So we're thinking, what do you do is quality and it's quite a complex role, is it because you're helping quite a wide range of people, if you had describe it really simply like to apply for, I would say you do. Cause obviously it's more than just the pills.  

00:03:52:13 [Speaker 1]: My actual role now that I do here, um, at Metro hospital and also three days at Clovis street, sexual health clinic is, um, basically for two or five-year-old old providing very specialist medication for HIV and hepatitis C um, to patients safely to make sure that they can take it safely without hurting themselves to make sure it's the right one for them. And especially with HIV to make sure in the long term, they are safe taking it by taking blood tests and things like that. We make sure 

00:04:24:02 that their body's reacting in the right way to it, as it should be. And they live a normal life.  

00:04:28:10 [Speaker 2]: That would be hugely beneficial. I said, you, you were able to innovate in that role. Could you say like it's changed, has changed lots of things.  

00:04:37:19 [Speaker 1]: I can't even explain how much innovation there is now. And that does really excite me, you know, and that's a bit, some people go, Oh, it's so sad, but I feel, I feel lucky to enjoy my job because I have so many friends that, you know, will go to work and don't get me wrong. I'm not Monday morning Yates. It's time to go to work. But once you get here and get into it, I just wouldn't do. I wouldn't want to do anything different. You know, it's, it's, it's really good to help to get, to help people, even if it's just telling them how to put an eye drop in their eye from something as simple as that, to making sure that their 

00:05:09:18 very specialist medication is working for them and they don't die of HIV or AIDS to be able to do that. It's so diverse. But yeah, I feel, I feel quite privileged. Yeah.  

00:05:23:18 [Speaker 2]: Seeing as you have, like you said, you, you feel like you're on people, you know, who's getting up to that. She's already, like I say, springing that bed, enjoying it, and it's nice relaxing. Like you should consider pharmacy instead of going into me another career  

00:05:35:03 [Speaker 1]: Because of the diversity, um, I've, I've done prisons for 18 years. And so that's, that's a long time, but over that time I could have done 20 different jobs. There's so many things you can do with a pharmacy degree. People think you're doctors that didn't quite qualify. Well, I've never want to be a doctor because I'm not really a hands-on person, but you know, you can be a hands-on person as a pharmacist. You can be person that they analyze these data. You can be somebody that acts in front of the family and you can be anything from a scientist to a, a carer. 

00:06:07:02 And it's, it's, it's that degree that I think can really push the best in you. Obviously it's not easy but harder now I think, than it was when I did it. But, um, it's so worthwhile. Definitely  

00:06:20:14 [Speaker 2]: A good cause you've got definitely a wide range of things. Yeah. Say it's hard enough, just. It's more rewarding.  

00:06:28:04 [Speaker 1]: Oh, without a doubt. Yes, definitely. I mean now, and as I say, this, this role in this hospital for pharmacists to be on a ward all the time and you see the younger pharmacists on the wards and they're the new qualifies and they're a bit fed up with it. But for me, you're kind of thinking, well, if you weren't there doing that job, that patient could actually as dramatic as it sounds pass away, you know, because you're making sure what the doctors are prescribing is correct. And I've only done the wards a few times and even then you pick up on so much stuff and it's not against the doctors, you know, I'm not moaning about 

00:06:59:22 anybody in particular. It's just that they had don't have the time. They don't have the knowledge. And that's what pharmacy is there for. Not just pharmacists, the technicians and the pharmacy assistance they'll team. Yeah. It makes such a difference.  

00:07:11:12 [Speaker 2]: Nathan, you actually.  

00:07:14:12 [Speaker 1]: Yeah, it does sound a bit dramatic, but I believe you are definitely.  

00:07:18:24 [Speaker 2]: Okay. Um, so you're saying, he said the right thing pharmacy work helps you save people's lives or helps save lives generally.  

00:07:38:11 [Speaker 1]: Well, it's obviously all about the medication, but it's, it's, it's making sure the medication doesn't interact with, but the other medication, the patient's on making sure the patients have also communicated what medication they're on. We have ways of looking at what the doctors on the outside have prescribed, um, with HIV. We also have that access to that record. So you've got so many different areas to look and what medication patients are taking. So you can make sure they're not interacting with each other. You also need to make sure they're taking the right dose, prescribed the right dose for that right condition. There's one 

00:08:12:10 antibiotic, for example, that can cover seven or eight infections, but at different doses. So it's important. We know all the information and pharmacy teams are good at seeking that information out. But also I think you're saving people's lives by just by helping them as well. Even talking to the lady, the technicians like that, the older lady that hasn't spoken to anyone for six months because of the coronavirus pandemic you make her day. And that in itself is, is saving that lady's life in a smaller aspect. 

00:08:43:10 But I, I feel that's just as rewarding for me.  

00:08:46:09 [Speaker 2]: Yeah. What would you say the most rewarding parts of your career? Like you said, like really meaningful? Well, for me personally, I've  

00:08:56:23 [Speaker 1]: I've I feel so lucky that I've achieved quite a lot. Right place, right time. Maybe. I don't know, but you know, I've managed, managed a big pharmacy team in the prisons.  

00:09:11:02 [Speaker 2]: Not so good. That's a great answer. That's the thing, it's just a job.  

00:09:16:09 [Speaker 1]: The phone sounds humble. Yeah. Huh? I am humble. I do feel lucky. Yeah. Anyway. Oh, you see you recording again. Um, yeah, so I managed the team at watches to prison where I was managing, um, Gatchell pharmacy that sends them all out, all the medications out to all the pens in Kent. That was a huge role. And it was quite high end like pharmacy. And I never thought I would get to that, that extreme of, of career as such, 

00:09:48:09 but what it did open up the doors for the like, um, meetings with commissioners and health executives and the governors, and they'd all involve you. They wanted to know your input. And I feel that was a really good thing for me. Um, I did my prescribing, I did that 10 years ago. That was really good. Like again, I'm so happy I did that now, you know, I'd always say to all pharmacists, make sure if you can get your prescribing degree done, um, because that opens so many more doors. Um, and just the, the, the things to reflect on, like in the, in the 

00:10:21:06 prisons I used to, as a prescriber, we would be the people, the first people that people, people would see when they came in from like the streets or the police stations or whatever. So it was called reception prescribing. So again, you'd come in and they'd just be sitting there and you'd say, you don't know who that person is. It's only later you might find out they're actually on remand for murder or something. And that doesn't, didn't bother me at all, but you feel like you're playing a part 

00:10:47:24 in their life and without thinking about who they are and people respect that from a person. And I've, I've that I really, I would always reflect on as being a good, good part of my career.  

00:11:00:23 [Speaker 2]: Done so much in pharmacy. Is there any advice you'd offer upcoming new bonuses? Because I feel like if I was to straighten, that sounds like, but then it won't start with me there.  

00:11:13:04 [Speaker 1]: Wow. That's a difficult one already, just that already chosen a pharmacy degree just, or considering, just look, Google it, look at what all the options are and speak to pharmacists. Even if it's in, you know, someone that isn't in a hospital or it doesn't matter what role they're in, they will know more to what's available. Um, because as I say is such a huge role GP practices as well. Uh, pharmacists work from there, there's just a lot that that can be, can be, um, can be worked with 

00:11:43:24 a pharmacy degree.  

00:11:47:02 [Speaker 2]: And how do you feel like as long as you to that you will like actually like, even to vote, you're able to further your skills, your work, like, so you said that you've grown a lot through your career.  

00:11:58:21 [Speaker 1]: I've become a much more confident person. Um, and I've learned so much about life and sounds a bit, you know, have it a bit weird, but reflecting on everything, you just, you see so many walks of life. Um, and you just feel that. Yeah. Sorry. I don't, I'm trying to say like, whether it's a per a patient or a colleague, like here, there are so many people and it makes you aspire to perhaps be that person you think, well, they've got that part of their career done and dusted. I didn't think 

00:12:30:09 of doing that. I'd quite like to, to do that. Um, so that's, that's why I like to kind of do different things now and then to see what else is out there for, for change and improvement. And just not, I'm not career minded as in, I want to own loads of money on this. I want to just do the best I can for, for people. Yeah.  

00:12:51:07 [Speaker 2]: So it sounds like pharmacies almost like make you a better person over the course of your career.  

00:12:57:03 [Speaker 1]: Yeah, I think so. Yeah, definitely.  

00:13:00:05 [Speaker 2]: And any particular reason why that pharmacy particularly like by sides, you think if you'd been like a banker or you're just gone full stamps, even like a chemist right now, but at the same skills, the same conduct outlook,  

00:13:12:17 [Speaker 1]: It's difficult to say, isn't it? You can't really say, but I think, um, for me, I've never been about making money. Um, like when I worked in community pharmacy a lot about that is w well, when I was there, when he is about making about making money about making profit, obviously, um, when you work for the health service, you feel like you work for, um, I dunno, a big, a big group, big club where you're out to either save money in some roles or just save lives and help patients. It's mixed, quite simple. Yeah. Hmm.  

00:13:41:24 [Speaker 2]: And going back to the saving lives by things, obviously work actually saved lives like day to day,  

00:13:48:02 [Speaker 1]: Day to day. Um, if I don't very simply, if I don't get a prescription to a patient in time and they miss their medication, they could get, um, an infection and die. And the same with hepatitis C, if, if they don't get their medication on time, it could get worse and worse and liver failure and again, die since it is that simple really. But that's my role here. Um, obviously it's a lot more complex rather than 

00:14:18:08 other pharmacists. Yeah.  

00:14:21:02 [Speaker 2]: Again, I don't think have it. I have, but I guess it doesn't get to be cheesy, cheesy, and we're looking at is because he always comes out, turns less cheesy because it's okay to say these people's lives because you actually do as the thing, like what you do makes a Ru powerful difference. I think what attracted you to do that in the first place, knowing that it was like  

00:14:46:11 [Speaker 1]: Well, I didn't realize that was how it would be if I'm honest. Um, I wanted to be a pharmacologist and then I remember, cause I've just really, really liked the way the body, um, well interested in the way the body works and how drugs affect the body is just, is just a lot. It's just fascinating and how you can change a disease or disease pathway just by pharmaceutical compound. Anyways. So I wanted to do from college, I went to my careers teacher when I was 16, like you do at school. And she 

00:15:16:13 was like, no, I don't do don't do pharmacology. Or she didn't actually say that she advised pharmacy because she said that there's a lot of that is pharmacology. And then it's, you can then, you know, specify in pharmacology later on. So I was like, Oh, okay. That's a good idea. And looked into pharmacy. I thought actually yet I never even knew about a degree in pharmacy. Never thought about it until that day. So that, that teacher has a lot to not thankful for that teacher. Um, yeah. And then once I did the degree and, and just started working in community and helping 

00:15:48:00 people that way that's yeah. That's when I, it developed to be honest.  

00:15:52:05 [Speaker 2]: Okay. Changes along the way. How has your personal professional journey impacted you as a person? So like going from that 16 year old, do you want to, where how'd you think that this journey has changed you?  

00:16:05:10 [Speaker 1]: Well, I'm not gonna lie. It's not, it's, it's not been an easy journey, but it's been a worthwhile journey. And I know what I enjoy doing. I know that if I won the lottery, like not that I play it, but if I did win millions of pounds, I would still want to work. I'd still want to help people because that's what I enjoy doing. And I probably wouldn't have learned that from being a bank person, because it's not quite the same, or we're only loads of, you know, trying to make profit for someone else. That's not, that's not helping people in my mind.  

00:16:35:22 [Speaker 2]: That's great. You're right. If someone think like, if you had all that money, if you won the lottery, still think I'd still do it. So what do you enjoy it by? Like, what's, what's getting in that spot. We thinking if you had a million in the backseat of the car,  

00:16:47:07 [Speaker 1]: Um, I just enjoy, I just enjoy it. It's like, um, every day you learn something new for definite everyday use, you learn about a new drug or a big new side effect. That's been found about something, but then there's a new, a new little thing you learn for your personal development. Um, I can't think of something, but yesterday for instance, I learned about a new infection that HIV patients are getting. So it's, it's a continual journey. And if you feel like you're not learning 

00:17:17:22 anymore, then you know, you can move to something else, new speciality or do something at home. I dunno. It's, it's, it's all about, um, learning and helping. Yeah. It's too humble. Hmm. Continual growth. Yeah. Um, um, one day I probably won't want to do it anymore, but maybe I'll be 70 that might get that long.  

00:17:43:20 [Speaker 2]: Yeah, that's fine. It's, 10 to 15 minutes of footage of you outside of here. If you want to, just in your, a lot more natural environment, how are we going to talk? what did you value about your 

00:18:38:10 training? Like the actual training you received?  

00:18:45:23 [Speaker 1]: Um, it would, for me, it would have been the pharmacology part because that's what I wanted to do. Um, really enjoyed that. But then the surprise, what I really, really enjoyed was the practical pharmacy, which is when I realized that actually pharmacy was what I wanted to do, because at university, you, you work in a pretend clinical area and that's, this is the first time we've done that. That was really exciting and really enjoyed doing that. And then just, couldn't wait to get out there to put that into practice. So,  

00:19:13:08 [Speaker 2]: So thinking about, um, uh, how'd you how'd you think we should encourage people to get into pharmacy? Because it seems like it's got bad image. It's not right.  

00:19:25:23 [Speaker 1]: Well, that's weird because I don't see that cause I'm in it. I don't see it, I suppose. I think, yeah. People picture you behind a boots counter that's for sure. Um, and also the use of the word chemist annoys the hell out of me because I'm not a chemist. Um, but yeah, I think people don't realize how many roles, how it can happen. Well, exactly what you're doing, I suppose. Um, but the list of roles that pharmacists could do is as endless. Um, and, and yeah. How can you get that 

00:20:00:06 outlet education really? Um, but I think pharmacists need to get it out there as well. When people come in hospital and you see the patient, you know, tell them you're the pharmacist and you're doing this for them so that we need to take some responsibility for, for teaching the public  

00:20:20:08 [Speaker 2]: Really. Okay. Everything. What makes you unique? A chemist has a chemistry degree. A pharmacist has a pharmacy degree. I'm not a chemist, but they say like, Oh, I'm going to pop to the chemist to buy, to get my prescription. You're like, yeah, that's just so wrong. They should change the name because it's not a dispensing chemist. It's a pharmacy, but most places have these days, most, uh, community pharmacies don't say that anymore, which is a good 

00:20:51:10 move, I suppose. 

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