Interview with Karen Gunnell community pharmacist and Teaching Fellow in Pharmacy Practice

Karen is a community pharmacist and Teaching Fellow in Pharmacy Practice at Keele University and the school’s Career Development lead.

What made you realise that you wanted to become a pharmacist?

My local community pharmacist made such a difference to the area. I was offered a Saturday job with him when I was 14 and I got to see how a great pharmacist operates.

How did you get to where you are today?

After completing my pre-reg year I continued working as a community pharmacist, completed a clinical diploma and developed my passion for care services and training. My next role as a Teacher Practitioner was something I had wanted to do for many years. I developed my teaching skills by lecturing and delivering workshops. For a few years I had two part-time jobs: one as a Teacher Practitioner and one at Boots head office, designing and producing eLearning for care homes on medicines management and clinical topics. I now work full time as a Teaching Fellow at Keele University, teaching undergraduate pharmacy practice and clinical therapeutics and also teaching on postgraduate courses. 

What challenges have you faced so far in your career and how did you overcome them?

When I first started as a teacher I worried that I wouldn’t have enough clinical knowledge to teach therapeutics. However, despite having only ever worked in community, I have always seen myself as a clinical pharmacist. I just needed to believe in my own knowledge.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing the profession today?

Funding in healthcare is a massive challenge for all sectors. It will require innovative and collaborative thinking as well as strong leadership from our profession to ensure that pharmacists can make a difference.

How are you involved in UKCPA?

I have been a member of UKCPA for three years and I sit on the committees of the Education & Training Group and the Community Group.

What does UKCPA mean to you as a practitioner?

I get to meet and share ideas with others. It provides me with useful networking opportunities which help me with my own development and in my job.

Who inspires you?

My line manager, Dr Katie Maddock. I have known her since being an undergraduate and her fantastic clinical knowledge as well as the innovative methods of teaching she uses are truly inspiring.

If you were trying to persuade a young student to enter the world of clinical pharmacy, what would you say?

Don’t just think that clinical pharmacy only happens in hospitals. The expanding role of pharmacists means that clinical skills are needed in all sectors.

Tell us something people don’t know about you.

I am descended from Henry VIII’s wife, Catherine Parr, and I make a lovely lemon drizzle cake!


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