Pharmacist’s key to success: Seek opportunities, embrace challenges

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The role of a pharmacist is far more challenging now than simply filling prescriptions or dispensing medicine. Today, they take on active roles in patient care, whether in the hospital setting, in community health facilities or centres and even at home.

Given the diversity of the roles they play, it’s no wonder that having the right attitude is always the number one attribute that makes pharmacists good at what they do.

Says Ms. Low Suat Fern, a geriatrics specialist pharmacist, having the right ASK attributes are crucial to become an outstanding professional. ASK stands for attitude, skills and knowledge. She has been a pharmacist for 16 years.

Dr. Jonathan Seah is another pharmacist specialist. His focus is on the Infectious Disease/Antimicrobial Stewardship Programme. His work with ASP requires reviewing the appropriate use of antibiotics in patients and intervening where it is needed.

He advises young pharmacists to take every challenge as an opportunity to learn. Having the right motivation is likewise important just as the willingness to accept challenges that come in every pharmacist’s life. Even mundane tasks, he adds, will teach you something as long as you understand why it is being done.

One challenge for pharmacists to consider is to seek opportunities to improve the existing systems and process. While this is already top-notch in Singapore, the field of pharmacy is evolving and changing fast.

There are many opportunities for pharmacists, Ms. Low says, and it is in accepting them – including exposure to a variety of environments and specialisations – that led her to grow as a professional and love her work. It also allowed her to find her interest, which is geriatrics that kept her wanting to serve and be good at what she does.

Ms. Ng Hui Cheng, whose area of interest is clinical trials management, says staying positive is a good attribute for pharmacists. At the same time, she advises young pharmacists to avoid comparing themselves with others as it is a sure way to discontentment.

Like Ms. Low, Ms. Ng believes finding your interest and focusing on it is crucial to keep the passion for your work. Looking for an excellent mentor who will both listen and guide you is essential to success.

All three outstanding pharmacists also believe that having a good working relationship with their fellow pharmacists as well as other healthcare professionals ensures delivery of healthcare services will always be good for patients.

National University of Singapore holds the distinction of being the first and only pharmacy school in the state. Applicants are required to take two years of junior college with courses heavy on basic sciences (biology, chemistry, Physics) and mathematics. Only the top 15 percent are allowed to enrol for the 4-year professional degree, B.S. Pharmacy. A 9-month pre-registration pharmacy training follows after graduation, either in a community or hospital setting, completion of which will grant the pharmacist license to practice. MIMS