Outreach Frenzy

This time of the year is very exciting for the thousands of Year 12 students at secondary schools. Number of career fairs, University Open Days and educational events are happening throughout the county of Kent. They represent excellent opportunities for the students to get the information they need about the programmes offered by many Universities. It is also a great opportunity for the Universities/schools to reach out to the students directly, interact with them and engage with them in a non-stressful, comfortable environment.

And for the recruitment team of MSOP, it was two busy weeks indeed…

The intensive recruitment campaign started on October 5th at Benenden School. Sammi Hall and Dr Vladimir Gubala were invited to the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) conference at Benenden, attended by ~120 Year 10-12 students from more than 10 secondary schools from Kent. The Medway School of Pharmacy and Integrated Technologies Limited had exclusive stands, attracting large numbers of students asking simple questions about the career of a pharmacist or the difference between pharmacy and pharmacology. Both Sammi and Vladimir were very busy, giving out leaflets and information about what MSoP could offer them in their future academic path.

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MSoP also had a presence at the first two Open Days organised here at the Medway Campus. On Saturday October 8th – University of Greenwich, on Saturday October 15th – University of Kent.

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Open Days are extremely important for us, they are usually attended by large number of students and their parents. Therefore, at least one member of the academic team and one student ambassador spend the whole day engaging with our potential new students.

The Greenwich Open day was attended by Dr Gubala and two final year MPharm students: Max Gilbert and Nour Moteirek. The presence of our students made the conversation very much relaxed, both Max and Nour were absolutely excellent when communicating to our potential future MPharm or BSc students.

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The Kent Open day was attended by Dr Andrea Manfrin and Max Gilbert. This event had a very large attendance by students and parents. Andrea and Max were approached by a number of students with various backgrounds but their engagement was absolutely brilliant. Dr Gubala attended part of the day too, he and Max Gilbert gave a talk to a small crowd of 25-30 people. Although unplanned, all of the attendees expressed an interest in a tour of our school. Max and Vladimir therefore quickly organised an impromptu tour through Anson, which judging from the interactions we had with the students and their parents was very well received.

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The recruitment ‘frenzy week’ continued with two big events on Wednesday October 12. Two important events were scheduled on the same day, reaching out to nearly 300 students in Years 11 and 12. The first event, called ‘West Kent Skillsfest’ was organised at Tunbridge Wells buy EBP. Our school was represented by Dr Simon Scott. Simon was approached by groups of Secondary School students that were interested in science and careers. The feedback from the event was excellent: Of the students evaluated, 100% said that they would recommend that their school attends next year. 93% found the experience to be very informative and 90% found the whole experience to be incredibly enjoyable. 100% of teachers found the experience to be enjoyable and worthwhile for their students.

At the same time, on October 12th, Dr Gubala and two students: Emily Wilkins and Nour Moteirek attended a Dartford Grammar Career Faire. This was a large event, where almost every University that offers science programmes made their presence. MSOP really stood out. We were partially represented by both University of Greenwich and Kent’s recruitment officers but we also had our own stand and we were the only institution that were represented not just by an academic but by two final year MPharm students. This made a massive difference, the engagement of the Secondary School students with our student ambassadors was amazing. Equally, we’ve had about 35 students attending the ‘Pharmacy’ talk, presented jointly by Dr Gubala and Nour Moteirek.

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And finally, the busy weeks were closed with a Nuffield Celebration event on October 13. Dr Gubala, his PhD student Voula Kasapidou and two Nuffield students that Dr Gubala hosted in his laboratory over the summer months gave a scientific demonstration to a crowd of nearly 50 students and their parents. The topic of the presentation was ‘New brain cancer therapy’. In about 40 minutes, Dr Gubala and his team of students explained the challenges related to the treatment of brain cancer and for better illustration, the students performed brain surgery using a doll called Molly. This was very interesting, brain cancer is usually a very serious matter but the short demonstration enabled people to understand the challenges and concept of alternative therapies in detail. Our school had a very good exposure to many potential students, all in Years 11 and 12.

 

 

My Year as a BPSA International Representative 15/16

Are you passionate about student pharmacy? Thinking of joining BPSA as a rep for your School of Pharmacy? Why not check out this timeline sneak-peak of my year!  By Ijeoma Imo

September – I attended the first BPSA Southern Area Conference for the academic year 15/16. The conference was held on the Medway Campus. The topic for the day was Oncology Pharmacy. The speakers gave presentations on their day to day activities as Pharmacists working in this specialised area.

During the conference, positions to join the BPSA southern area team as International (IR) and National Representatives for Medway School of Pharmacy (MSoP) were advertised.

Inspired by the conference, I applied to become an International Representative via an online application.


October – I received an email from the BPSA that my application had been successful and I was invited to a training day at University College London (UCL), Pharmacy School.

I was added to a group chat where all representatives from across the southern area were able to connect and introduce themselves. The group also included the southern area co-ordinator and the student exchange officer.


November – I attended a training day hosted at UCL. The training day allowed me to meet others face to face and network with other reps from various schools of pharmacy. The training day consisted of: icebreakers which gave reps the opportunity to familiarise themselves with one another, a presentation was made on the history and goals of the BPSA, expectations and roles of international and national reps.  A team competition was also held to create and pitch a health campaign, where I teamed up with the Kings College London IR reps. Our campaign was on “Disability Awareness Day”.


December – My southern area coordinator briefed reps about an upcoming conference on “Developing your Career Pathway”, which we needed to plan and organise.

We also set a date for a skype meeting, in order for reps to form teams, pitch ideas and organise the timetable of events for the conference.

The other international reps and I also had to plan a Public Health Campaign.


January – I gave a presentation to first year MSoP pharmacy students on BPSA’s Student Exchange Programme. This outlined the opportunity for students to gain practical work experience in community, hospital, and industry or University research abroad. This presentation gave me the opportunity to improve on my confidence and communication skills.


February – I gave a presentation to MSoP students about an opportunity to attend the 62nd IPSF (International Pharmaceutical Students Federation) conference in Zimbabwe.

I liaised with my school of pharmacy to get emails sent out to student inboxes, for any students who could not attend the presentation.

20th February 2016 – Day of southern area conference on “Developing your Career Pathway” held at Franklin-Wilkins Building, King’s College London.

  • Speakers included those working in a diverse range of sectors in Pharmacy including; hospital, industry and academia.
  • Breakout sessions; interactive classes designed to look at how best to set yourself up for a successfulcareer.
  • International Reps hosted a Health Campaign during lunch. We signed up students attending the conference to be ‘Antibiotic Guardians.’
  • Competitions to win Pharmacy related books were also held throughout the day.

The conference was a success, tickets sold out and over 350 Pharmacy students were in attendance.

The outcome of the conference reinforced the importance of having BPSA reps at every School of Pharmacy, in order to strengthen links between Pharmacy schools, share opportunities with students and exchange ideas.

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March –I liaised with the BPSA student exchange officer to find placements in the UK for incoming pharmacy students from abroad. The process included ringing up my previous pharmacy placements to ask if they were willing to host 2 weeks of placement for incoming international students.


June – Launch of NEW BPSA website information sent out to student inboxes.

Check out http://www.bpsa.co.uk/ and apply!

Written by Ijeoma Imo, BPSA International Rep for Medway School of Pharmacy 2015-2016

Will our revolution be televised or even be written about?

Please note: these are not the thoughts of Medway School of Pharmacy.

I just recently read an article which states Jeremy Hunt is now considering a pay rise for doctors. This is in response to the riots by junior doctors and others concerned about what they describe as the crumbling of the NHS. Mr Hunt and the current government are thinking of passing a new contract that will keep the NHS running for twenty-four hours, seven days a week. It’s mostly aimed at changing doctors’ working hours but what struck me the most is the absence of dialogue between the government and other people who work diligently to keep the NHS running. I am talking about pharmacists.

I often wonder if the lack of media coverage in major news outlets is because the public don’t have an understanding of pharmacists’ roles in the NHS or there is ignorance about how the proposed contract will affect other professions. Pharmacists, for years, have had an active role in keeping patients safe and also supporting doctors. They work within the NHS to manage and optimise medicines for patients. Depending on what additional responsibilities they have taken, pharmacists deal with the procurement and budgeting of drugs. This means they save the NHS money in addition to saving patient’s lives on a daily basis. They perform such tasks alongside doctors. So if doctors stay longer at work, so will pharmacists. If doctors fail to perform because of fatigue it will be difficult for pharmacists to do their job.

In primary care, pharmacists are delivering services that used to be delivered in the GP surgeries such as providing annual flu vaccines and dealing with minor patient illnesses. They have eased NHS pressures on GPs by moving into the surgeries. Consequently, pharmacists see patients more frequently now than in previous decades. Which is why when I was researching about how the seven hour service contract is going to affect pharmacists I was a little confused as to why they were only a few articles on the subject.

Cameron has reportedly said “Let me be clear, this doesn’t mean that all staff in the NHS have to work every seven days, it just means the services are available.” But is that necessarily true? Who is then going to be providing these services and keeping them open? A seven day GP surgery will not only increase pressure on GP surgeries but will also mean patients will expect pharmacies to open for longer too. The majority of community pharmacies already open 6 days a week but for them to open a 7 day service will undoubtedly affect the quality of services being delivered and lead to poor staff morale. Some might say that a lot of community pharmacies have been providing seven day services for a while now. I would argue that these pharmacies don’t have the excess patients a 7 day service contract will bring. The increased use of services will add to the stress that pharmacists are already battling as revealed by C+D in a survey conducted in 2013.

As you can see such statements by our prime minister leave a lot of questions unanswered. The ones I would like to be answered are as follows; how is this 7 day contract going to affect pharmacists? Are pharmacists going to now have a greater role and if so how are they going to get compensated and supported to achieve this? I would encourage pharmacists as a profession to ask these questions because any change to the NHS will affect them. The more pharmacists ask questions the more their worries will be raised by the media.

Conclusively, the NHS is more than just doctors. It is made up of different professions that work together to provide the best care for patients. So when we discuss issues that concern such a system we need to think of how a change, such as a 7 day service, can have knock on effects on the whole.  All professions need to be given a voice. Pharmacists need to be given a voice and they need to use it.

What are your thoughts on the seven day service proposals?

Epiphanies

Since I wrote my last post, I moved back into my flat at university. I am all unpacked and settled in. I do miss my family quite a bit because it’s normally the five of us but now I spend most of the time studying alone. However, since I hadn’t seen my friends all summer, I was looking forward to hanging out with them. When I arrived, it was the same week as my friend’s birthday so we headed to Spoons. In my opinion it’s one of the best places to eat as a student, the food is delicious and the price is very fair for a buffet. I was definitely saying yes to all the invites that week because I wanted to go out before the real work started. I will not be surprised if I gain a bit of weight from all the food. Sorry, not sorry!

When the partying was all said and done, I had my first introductory lecture and like every year it was just as exciting and equally terrifying. The lecturer congratulated us on making it this far. That always makes me smile because hearing him saying that means I am still here. He reminded us why we are at university and what we are aiming for. It was then, when I was sitting in my chair staring at the lecture slides, that I felt a lot of anxiety for the future. With each slide of statistics on previous students’ performance, I couldn’t stop my head from asking a lot of questions. Am I going to make it? What degree classification will I get? Am I going to cope? Looking around I realised, I am not the only one. All of us have made it so far and there is only one more obstacle in our way.

Putting our worries aside, my friends and I headed to our pharmacy school’s 10th anniversary. Between the dancing, selfies and free food I convinced my self that although my concerns about the future are justified, it shouldn’t be my main focal point. These feelings are familiar and that’s because they are the same ones I had during my GCSE and ‘A’ levels. Yet, here I was, at an award ceremony hosted by my school of pharmacy and in my final year of university. I had clearly made it. Among the people receiving their awards were our lecturers who had added another title to their name. Students who had excelled from previous years were honoured for their achievements. It was inspiring, I felt like I had the potential to be just as great. I want the cap and gown, I want the certificate and I certainly want the joy that comes with graduating. Therefore, I have made it my goal and motivation to graduate and get the gown.

All in all, I am ready for this academic year. “Let the hunger games begin”

 

What are your fears, goals and motivation for this academic year?

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Fresher’s Week

Fresher’s week was one of the most hectic weeks I can remember having at university.

I moved into my student halls on the Saturday and spent the morning unpacking and meeting the other flat mates who had already arrived. We were told to meet in the courtyard to walk to Coopers (the campus bar) for ice-breaking events and food. I spent the whole night just walking up to people and introducing myself with my flat mate in tow, I thought this would be a good idea seeing as many people seemed too scared to talk to anyone. There were loads of games arranged where we had to find people with the same course, wearing the same coloured top, same first letter of the name, same county etc. in an effort to get people talking. Through these games I met a friend who I still sit next to in lectures every day.

On the second night, before we went out, I cooked a huge meal for all eight of us in the flat. I did this so we could all sit down and get to know each other before going on our first night out. It really built a bond as a flat and it made the rest of the year so much more enjoyable together. The rest of the week passed in an manic blur of introductory lectures, preparation for the first week and obviously events and partying in the evening, Many of the people I met in the first week I still talk to regularly and it was a great way to start off first year.

My biggest tip to any new student is to try and talk to new people, everyone is in the same boat. I was the loud friendly one, and it did feel slightly awkward at first, but it was definitely worth it in the long run.

My summer placement

I have come to the end of my very eventful summer placement for this year. Looking back I learnt a lot in the six weeks that I was working in a local pharmacy.

My first week was mostly finding my feet and seeing where I fit in. On my first day I was very nervous but equally excited. My tutor and I had a meeting when I arrived. She explained what she expected of me but also let me discuss with her what I wanted to get out of the placement. Having set those “ground rules” my induction began. Sitting in an office alone, I read the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Health Safety information.  One can imagine that it wasn’t particularly interesting.

With all the paper work out of the way it was time for me to get to know the staff and start doing different activities. In the following weeks my days involved setting a goal with my tutor for the day, working towards that goal, putting away stock and completing my booklet. Filling in my booklet meant a bit of independent study on the computer. I am really thankful for all the learning objectives I had to complete in my booklet because some of the information I found has helped me prepare for my preregistration placement interviews.

The daily goals that were set depended on what was happening in and out of the pharmacy each day. The previous day was quite different to the next. There was a lot of dispensing and that was one of my favourite tasks.  Since I am going to be in my fourth year soon, dispensing was a good opportunity to review my drug knowledge. I would ask myself questions on how the drugs on the prescription are used and the counselling points required. My tutor also asked me questions on certain drugs that I decided to research for my CPDs. I think the other reason I enjoyed dispensing is because I kept improving how quickly I dispensed and labelled overtime. Depending on the pharmacy you choose to work in, the speed you work at can affect how efficient you are. My pharmacy was really busy so it was important to make sure everything was done quickly to prevent any backlogs of prescriptions.

Contrary to what most people think, pharmacists don’t just stay in the dispensary all the time handing out medicines. After I had filled in most of the booklet on over-the-counter counselling and dispensing, my tutor showed me what she did outside of the dispensary. To my delight I spent a day at a care home my pharmacy had a contract with.  There I saw how the pharmacy provides guidance to carers on how drugs should be given to patients but also how to store and dispose of them.  It was a welcome break from the usual busy days at the pharmacy.

Near the end of my placement, I spent the last few weeks perfecting skills I had already picked up but also did some shadowing. Sometimes I would observe an MUR, OTC counselling or just seeing how staff were problem solving. For example, I would see what actions the staff took if they couldn’t provide a patient with specific medicine.

Overall my summer placement was a wonderful experience. I learnt and did a lot so it was difficult compressing my entire six weeks placement in this post. I would definitely recommend it to any pharmacy students whatever stage they are at.  After all this hard work I will be honest and say I am happy to spend what is left of my summer relaxing…. on a beach preferably!

Summer work experience

For many students summer is the time to sit back, relax and enjoy a few months off before University starts again in September. However I chose to do something slightly different this year. I asked my lecturer whether it would be possible to spend summer working in their research lab to gain some vital experience that will help me secure a job after I finish my BSc (Hons) Pharmacology and Physiology degree at Medway School of Pharmacy. After I finished my exams I took a few weeks off to go back home and at the end of June I returned back to University to start work in the lab.

I have to say that this was one of the best decisions that I have made. I have really enjoyed my time working here and have gained some good experience along the way. I have learned many new skills and experimental protocols as well as building on my skills that I gained in my first year of study. I have been working alongside some PhD students and with my lecturer on various scientific projects.

WitSajjadhout a doubt, I am now in a good position to start my 2nd year of my course. The skills that I have learned will stay with me for the rest of my degree and with my future career. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Scott Wildman and Dr Claire Peppiatt-Wildman for the opportunity that they have given me. I would also like to thank Gary Mabbutt, a PhD student, who has guided me through my time, both in the laboratory and at university.

Clearing experience

Worried about going through clearing? Here is my experience with MSoP

As you may or may not know, it is an emotional experience when you get your A-Level results. I got my results in August 2014 and I had been predicted 3 A’s which I was more than able to achieve. I’m not sure if it was the stress of finding University places or just the fact I was unprepared for the exams. I was holding an offer at Cardiff University for Pharmacy. However when I opened that results letter I knew getting into any university would be a struggle with the grades that I had achieved.

Thus, my journey of emotions began. First I was upset, as if I had lost a close relative, then came the anger. I was angry at myself as I knew that I could have achieved more. Whatever emotion you can name I had it. (Apart from happiness of course).

I had never considered clearing, but maybe I should of, as now I was in that situation along with thousands of other people trying to get the last few spaces into university. I quickly went onto the UCAS clearing website to look for the universities that were offering clearing places. I called up over half of the universities that offered Pharmacy but I didn’t manage to get a place at any of them. At this point I thought that I won’t get into University this year. I went back into my college to order my exam scripts and to apply for exam resits. They told me to come back at the end of next week then they will be able to process the resit request. I left for work feeling upset and worthless.

The next following days were not the best. I was still thinking about the results and what the future will hold. I was scheduled to go into college on Friday to collect my papers and apply for resits. On Thursday morning, before I started work, I received an email from UCAS telling me that the University of Greenwich still had places through clearing and one of the courses listed was Pharmacy. I was very optimistic about calling them up but something told me to give it a go so I did. I managed to get through to an agent who said she would pass my case on to the School of Pharmacy. I assumed I wouldn’t get a call back and carried on with my day. When I finished my shift I went to check my phone and I saw that I had 5 missed calls form an unknown number. I didn’t think twice about it and thought it must have been a call about debt or PPI. As I was leaving work this unknown number called again and this time I answered it. The person on the phone was Dr Scott Wildman from the Medway School of Pharmacy. He told me that I wasn’t able to get into Pharmacy but said that he wanted me to join the BSc Pharmacology and Physiology programme. I said that I wasn’t interested but he still sent me the details about the course.

I went home and spoke to my parents about this offer. We looked through the course together and decided that it would be interesting and it was worth a shot. I told Dr Wildman that I would give it a shot but if I didn’t enjoy it that I would transfer to Pharmacy after the end of the first year, either at this university or another. Dr Wildman gave me all of the information that I needed and made sure that I understood everything that he was explaining. Without his help I’m sure that I would be resitting A-levels this year.

Looking back at my experience I found that the Medway School of Pharmacy staff were more helpful than any other university. They really showed interest in my application and even offered me a course that they thought would suite me. I have really fell in love with this course and now I’m gaining valuable lab experience over the summer. I feel that being put into clearing was more of a blessing than an ordeal. I now have no desire to transfer to Pharmacy and am continuing onto my 2nd year after achieving an overall 1st class mark in my first year. I would highly recommend the Medway School of Pharmacy for anyone looking for helpful staff during clearing.

Finally, being a religious person I would like to share the following line with everyone:

“When God closes one door, don’t keep knocking at that door. Rather go to the other door that he has opened for you.”