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Pharmacy Careers
NHS Health Education England

Matthew Jones - Senior lecturer & Research Pharmacy

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Senior Lecturer, Matthew shares his day-to-day life of the role and his experiences working within a university.

Transcript

00:00:01:22 [Speaker 1]: Oh, I like the countdown. I can hear you. Fine. I have actually, I've just had, you can spare me, um, uh, 30 seconds to run upstairs. I can actually get in speaker that we even better than that. I'll see you in a minute. Okay. I can hear you much better now. Let's get myself back in the middle. 

00:01:28:15 Is that like, I can't see the screen and look at the camera at the same 

00:01:31:14 time, but is that what you've referred?  

00:01:35:01 [Speaker 2]: Yeah.  

00:01:53:19 [Speaker 1]: Okay. Yep. Hello Mike. Hello? Uh, my name is Matthew Jones. I'm a senior lecturer in the department of pharmacy and pharmacology at the university of bath. Hello, my name is Matthew Jones and I'm a senior lecturer in the department of pharmacy and pharmacology at the university of bath. I, I, I could give the 

00:02:41:19 stereotypical answer. Um, yeah, well, I don't want to be boring. Well, what 

00:03:03:03 frustrates me about what the public think about pharmacy is those occasions when people say, Oh, you know, it's just putting a few tablets in a box. It's just counting tablets. It's actually much more complicated than that. Making sure that a medicine is a safe and effective medicine that's right for that patient requires an awful lot of knowledge from all sorts of different areas. And that's really the pharmacist's main role. The 

00:03:27:21 provision and providing of that medicine afterwards is, is important, but it definitely comes after making sure it's the right medicine first place. Yeah, of course. So my dad was a pharmacist at a hospital pharmacist and 

00:04:04:16 the community pharmacist. Um, and when I was growing up computers, weren't common and in your house. So the first computer I ever saw was in my dad's pharmacy. And that in my, my young minds sort of gave me this idea that pharmacy was a very, uh, exciting and futuristic thing. And that, that got 

00:04:24:21 me thinking I wanted to be involved with it. And then maybe 10 years later when I was 16 or so, and thinking more seriously about careers, um, I kind of thought I wanted to be a pharmacist, but when I tried to look at it rationally, I saw it was a career that fitted with the sciences that I was good at at school, but also meant I could go to university and do a degree, but come out, knowing I had a profession to go into and give me some, some 

00:04:52:02 job security going into the future.  

00:05:04:01 [Speaker 1]: Definitely I saw that I could graduate and I could have a career that I already had the skills to go and do. Um, and then lots of opportunity once I was in that career to, to go and develop and do different things over the years when I was younger. Interesting question. 

00:05:35:09 Um, I think, I think it was the way that it took the sciences that I really enjoyed at school. Um, and it drew drew on all of them. It wasn't just chemistry. It wasn't just biology. It wasn't just physics or math. It drew on all of them and put them together and then applied that actually to real world problems, um, and a career that I could, um, get into and, and 

00:06:03:06 develop throughout my life. Yes, I guess, I guess that came a bit later. So, um, when I, when I first did some, um, genuine research as part of my final year project, as an undergraduate students, I found that really exciting to be doing these 

00:06:35:07 experiments. Uh, we were working on a project which no one had ever tried before. We had no idea whether it would work or not, how to make it work, what the results would be. And I found that really exciting. And that's what got me interested in research as a, as a pharmacy career. And I suppose that excitement has continued up to now the excitement of having a new idea, working out how it might work, putting that into practice. And 

00:07:01:12 then if it does work, that's a particularly rewarding moment.  

00:07:14:12 [Speaker 1]: Let me just check my list. It's um, it's not very, it's not very neat, but there is a list. Um, okay. So I think one of my most rewarding moments, um, was towards the end of a research project I've been doing for two or three years, and we've been working on a particular way to help nurses give injections more safely in hospital. And I've been doing all this work over the years and collecting data, but it was all 

00:07:45:24 anonymized and hidden from me. So I didn't know what the results were. And the day came, when I finished all the work, I had all the results in the computer and I could reveal what they were and when I hit that button and got the results back and I could see that it worked, that was a particularly exciting and rewarding moment because I knew from that all sorts of useful improvements in the future could, could come from that. Yeah. I, I guess I, personality wise, I tend not to get that excited about 

00:08:28:05 stuff, but yeah, for me, that was a particular euphoric moment, um, is certainly one of the highs of my career. Um, yeah, yeah, it was, it was, I thought it was working and it was that moment of truth. When you, you see 

00:08:46:22 the numbers in front of you and you can see a big difference between them and, you know, yes, that's a real phenomenon. That's something that, that is genuine. And we can make some difference with that. I think it was the satisfaction that the, I, or phrase the question. So that was satisfying for me because it was, it was demonstrating that the idea I'd had several 

00:09:19:19 years previously was correct and that this way of making injection safer really would work. Um, but also because it was, it was showed that we could take that idea forward, take it into the NHS and begin to implement it there and make a difference to how patients are cared for in the NHS. And so that idea of improving care for people across the country was a very 

00:09:44:07 exciting idea as well.  

00:09:50:10 [Speaker 1]: Definitely. Yes. The idea was simple enough that you could roll it out and get it into use in practice. So yeah, I'll take my 

00:10:24:04 time. I'll tell you the story. Um, so I began, after my degree, I began my career by doing my pre-registration training in a hospital pharmacy. And I chose that because, um, at that time there was a lot more variety in hospital pharmacy work than there was in community pharmacy work that's changed now, but, um, there was more variety. You could get more involved 

00:10:52:05 with patients and influencing their care and making sure they were given the right medicines. And then after doing that, I then went back to university and I did a PhD. And I did that because I got really excited by my final year research project in my pharmacy degree. And I wanted to do more research. I wanted to learn more about that. So I spent three years doing research into how inhalers work. Um, and that 

00:11:24:03 was very exciting as I, as I've already talked about, um, the excitement of trying something new, trying to make it work. And then the excitement when it really does work and you get results, I really enjoyed that. And that was incredibly rewarding. So after doing that for three years, I then went and worked as a researcher at a different university for a couple of years where I was working in the same field. And that, that continued to have 

00:11:49:01 that excitement of, of doing research at the cutting edge of science.  

00:11:56:16 [Speaker 1]: And then after two years there, um, I then went back and worked in hospital pharmacy again. Um, and there were a couple of reasons for that. It was a case of needing to move to a different parts of the country because of my personal life and needing to find a job. Um, and then not being a sort of research job there at the time. But also there's the feeling that I had originally wanted to be a hospital pharmacist when I trained as a, as a pharmacist. And so I wanted to go back to that. Um, and 

00:12:30:09 so I got a job in a hospital pharmacy, and I was working in a field called medicines information, which is always something that had excited me as, uh, a pre-registration pharmacist. And I was really grateful to get the job in that field again at that, at this hospital. Um, and the thing that excited me about that and why, uh, why I chose to go into that was it was 

00:12:54:23 about, um, how can I explain it? Um, so the reason I chose to go into, into medicines information in particular is because it meant in that role, I could make a difference for lots of patients at once. Lots of pharmacists do really valuable work working one-on-one with one patient at a time, and that's incredibly important, but I liked the idea in this role, but I could make sure that 

00:13:28:23 all my colleagues in the hospital were provided with the support and the information about medicines that they needed to look after their patients. And so by doing my job, I could influence the care of patients across the hospital. I particularly enjoyed that. And I liked the fact that in that role, you've got all the strange cases to look into all the unusual situations. So I learned about all sorts of unusual things, and I just enjoyed that variety, but that, that role gave me.  

00:13:56:23 [Speaker 1]: And then finally after, um, doing that for six of six or seven years, um, I then moved back into universities where I started work as a lecturer, uh, which is the job I do now. Um, and I made that move because at that point in my career, I spent roughly half of my time doing research in universities and roughly half of my time working as a frontline pharmacist. And I liked the idea of bringing those two things together to 

00:14:27:21 use my, um, experience of practice, to teach future pharmacists, um, and to use my experience of the problems I come across in practice to do research on those problems, to try and solve them in the future. So I could have that satisfaction of discovering new things through research and the satisfaction of taking students on a four year journey to qualify. Um, but drawing on my it, my experience of practice, how's that sound well it's, 

00:15:08:03 it's a slightly sanitized version of the truth, but pharmacy gives all 

00:15:28:08 sorts of opportunities to, to problem solve. So if I talk about my time as a hospital pharmacist, I was solving problems every day, because very often the sort of standard advice about medicines applies to let's say, 95% of patients. And so you've got 5% of patients who are unusual in some way, maybe because of their medical history or the other medicines they take. And when you come across one of those more 

00:15:57:19 unusual patients, you've got to find a new way of, of treating them effectively and safely taking into account that unusual thing about their history. So every day I'd come across, something like that, and particularly working in medicines information, those unusual problems would be directed to me. So I'd be solving those problems for individual patients on a daily basis. Um, then you have kind of bigger problem solving in the 

00:16:27:06 hospital where, for example, uh, let's say there's been a problem in the manufacturer of a medicine it's not available.  

00:16:33:18 [Speaker 1]: You've got to solve the problem of what are we going to use in stairs? How are we going to treat these patients safely and effectively, but not using the medicine that's unavailable? What else can we use that, that's just another example. And then now as a researcher, when you do research by almost by definition, it hasn't been done before. And so it almost never works the first time. And so you've got to understand the problem, find out what's causing your problems and then find solutions to those. And you keep working at it until it, until it works. 

00:17:07:01 And that's an incredibly rewarding moments. I sort of talk for my half of my career, don't say interesting. So my role 

00:17:34:15 now as a lecturer has two components. Um, I teach, uh, future pharmacists, the skills they need to, to develop and qualify as a pharmacist. And I do into how we can use medicines more safely and how we can get drugs into the lungs from things like inhalers. So I, I do have to balance those two 

00:18:04:05 roles. Ideally it would be about 50 50. Um, uh, how, how am I going to talk about this? This is, this is a challenge. This is one of the biggest challenges of my job. Yeah, yeah. That that's, I can work some of that in, um, presumably you don't. Yeah. It's, it's more about that higher level stuff than here's what I do with my calendar. Um, so there's two sides of 

00:18:44:02 my job do have to be balanced.  

00:18:46:02 [Speaker 1]: Um, and so I have to have very strict time management and make sure I allocate sufficient time to each of them because they are both important. And, um, I mustn't focus just on one maybe, which is busier at the moment. I've got to make sure they both carry on developing so good time management is certainly key to that, but they do inform each other. The results of my research means I can teach our students about the latest findings, um, in my part of pharmacy. So they come out right up to date when they leave the university with all the 

00:19:19:11 latest developments and then working with the students, um, really informs my research because, because they come new to pharmacy, they don't have some of the preconceptions and knowledge that I have. And so they're seeing it with fresh eyes. And so when they see that there's a problem, I, that helps me see, there's a problem there. And then I can begin, try and find the solution for that through my research. Yes, the students are very curious. Um, and they often ask questions where 

00:19:59:22 I think, hang on a minute, I don't know the answer to that. I better go and find that out. Or, or they challenge me to explain why something's done in a certain way. And when I think about it, I can see why it's done in that way. And that, that is the best way to do it. But perhaps I haven't thought 

00:20:16:18 about it before and I just accepted. That was how it was done. So they, they do push you to be very clear in your thinking about things.  

00:20:42:21 [Speaker 1]: One of the things I enjoy about working with the next generation of pharmacists is, is getting to know them over four years and helping them through that journey. Lots of students will encounter difficulties on the way, and it's really rewarding to work with them, to help them come up with strategies to overcome those difficulties and that to come through and to graduate. And it's particularly rewarding at the end of their four years to see the list of people who've passed to go to graduation, to see people celebrating their success. And to know that 

00:21:16:00 they've overcome some, some real barriers on the way that you've played, just the very small part in helping them get there. That's, that's a particularly rewarding. Yeah. Yes. Let me think. What can I say without ribbing, but I I've got, 

00:21:47:15 I've got a good match. It, no, no. I wish a particular moment I was proud was when, um, I worked with one of our secondary students over the summer. Um, she was doing a summer, um, research placement with me. I mean, she worked with me for about eight weeks and she, she traveled around the country, um, collecting data from patients on a particular subject. She put 

00:22:17:00 it all together. Um, and she found some really interesting things. And we actually managed to write that up as a scientific paper and publish that when she was in her third year. And that's something that probably most pharmacists never managed to do. So the fact that she'd managed it in her third year of her degree was incredibly impressive. Um, and then I've gone on to watch her as her career develops and that's particularly rewarding to see her, her going on to the future success. Now she's a qualified 

00:22:45:00 pharmacist. Yeah. Yeah. You do. You, you, you see you meet, you meet students as, um, nervous 18 year olds. They'd just come out of school. They're in a whole new environment. And then four years later, um, they are almost qualified professionals and much more confident and they're going off to the next stage of their career and, and helping them through that 

00:23:16:11 journey. It's very rewarding. Let me have a look lots of though, right? This is where it talks about flexibility before, which wasn't quite it 

00:23:44:12 doesn't quite.  

00:23:48:07 [Speaker 2]: Yeah.  

00:23:54:21 [Speaker 1]: So I think one of the ways my journey through pharmacy is, has impacted me personally, is that, um, pharmacy has given me lots of flexibility. So when things have happened in my personal life that have changed and I need to do something a bit different pharmacy has given me the ability to still have a rewarding and interesting career, but to also accommodate those, those changes in my life. Um, so that that's impacted me personally, cause I'm, I'm still satisfied with my career, but 

00:24:27:11 I've also been able to account for, for my personal life. So I think people should develop, or I think people should consider a career in pharmacy if they want to do something that is very varied. Something that maybe 

00:24:57:21 requires them to have knowledge of science one minute, but the next minute to have some knowledge of, uh, psychology and behavior and how to help people behave in a more healthy way. And then the next minute to have some knowledge of project management and logistics and so on. So if you, if you're interested in variety in your career, then, then pharmacy is, is certainly a good career to go into. If you're looking for a career that is flexible, that gives you the chance to, uh, develop over time, to try new 

00:25:29:00 roles when you want a new challenge or to move to a different parts of the country, and they'll still be pharmacists there, then pharmacists is another good option for you.  

00:25:58:13 [Speaker 1]: So when I, when I saw that computer many years ago at the pharmacy was mainly about supplying medicines to people and it's changed so much in the decades since then, but now I think the future is, is really bright for pharmacy. Um, pharmacists can now write prescriptions. They're getting involved in assessing patients and caring for them independently of, of, of other health professionals, but still working in a team with those health professionals. Their role is increasingly being 

00:26:30:14 recognized as, as experts in medicines and people that are absolutely vital for, uh, using medicine safely across the health system, not just supplying them correctly. So I think the future is very bright for pharmacy Yes. Um, what should I say about that? I think, yeah, the, the role of, and 

00:27:09:10 the expertise of a pharmacist has, has not been fully used for many years, but in the last few years, that's really beginning to be recognized and, and changes are coming through that makes much better use of pharmacist's expertise. And that will only continue in the future. Particularly as medicines get ever more complicated, that expertise is going to be ever 

00:27:32:03 more vital. Um, let me just see if I wrote anything particularly good in my 00:28:00:07 notes. Probably not. Um, No, I don't think no, I think, I think that's good. Yeah. I'll look at you now..

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