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Interview

Realising my passions within pharmacy: Interview with UKCPA Director Ramandeep Kaur

Ramandeep Kaur is Lead EPMA Pharmacist at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust. She was interviewed by Sarah Carter for Rx Magazine.

How did you get where you are today? 

My career path is definitely not a typical one but I have loved every single opportunity along the way, despite the challenges. 

After A-levels, a gap year and a failed entry into dental school, my career in pharmacy began. During my undergraduate training I fell in love with hospital pharmacy during a placement and subsequently completed my pre-registration year at Leeds Teaching Hospitals. Upon qualifying, I worked there for a year as a surgical pharmacist and as a locum in the community. I then left to study medicine. Things did not turn out as planned but during that period I learnt so much about myself and I went back into pharmacy. 

I worked as a locum for a few months on surgical wards at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust before getting a permanent post as a Specialist Pharmacist in Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (EPMA) in 2014. I applied for the post as I loved IT and had an ambition to learn something new, but I knew nothing about digital systems, particularly in the NHS.

Whilst at Leicester I transitioned through three roles and in that time completed my clinical diploma, the Edward Jenner Programme and a MSc in Leadership and Innovation. During 2018 and 2019, I was part of a large team managing the implementation of EPMA to 120 clinical areas, and this to date has been one of the most memorable experiences of my career.  

My passions for digital innovation, clinical informatics and surgery have brought me so many rewards

At the end of 2019, I moved to a split role between professional development and clinical assurance, and musculoskeletal and specialist surgery. I thoroughly enjoyed working clinically in surgery with a particular focus on ophthalmology. The other half of my role involved induction training for salary band 7s and above, supporting pharmacy students and developing training materials for our electronic programmes. It also included updating and aligning the competency assessments to reflect the move to paperless systems. 

Like many others 2020 was a difficult year. In the middle of the pandemic, I moved to London where I have a new role as Lead EPMA Pharmacist at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust. I am excited about the Trust’s digital journey and am currently undertaking the Digital Health London Pioneer fellowship programme. My passions for digital innovation, clinical informatics, education, and surgery, alongside my drive for leadership and transformation have brought me so many rewards and yet at university I never even thought about combining these with pharmacy. 

What keeps you motivated in your job? 

Anyone who has worked with me knows my mantra: “Everything we do is because there is a patient in a bed”. Sometimes, it is easy to become absorbed in the bigger problems, particularly in roles which have less daily patient contact. So for me, linking my role back to the wonderful service our NHS provides is paramount. 

How are you involved in UKCPA? 

I joined UKCPA in 2016 and became a General Committee member in 2017. When the UKCPA became a limited company in 2019, I became a Director and have a role within the Membership Committee. UKCPA has given me opportunities to network with others. The Board of Directors is like one big family and has enabled me to build relationships over the years which are both humbling and empowering. 

Who or what inspires you? 

My late aunt inspires me. She was a strong, independent woman who was a mother to

everyone, always supported every member of our family to be amazing and was the

driving force behind me studying pharmacy. This was not part of the career plan, but I am proud of my profession and I would like to say a huge thank you to all my tutors throughout my undergraduate and postgraduate education and to all my managers in hospital and community for all the job opportunities, teachings and support over the years. 

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

Managing post-COVID expectations and all the pharmacy sectors embracing the different roles that pharmacists, technicians and other pharmacy staff have undertaken during this period. I believe we should be utilising and recognising these skills to help support the continued development of staff. It is an exciting time to be a pharmacy professional and we need strong leadership to ensure we don’t miss the opportunity for innovative and collaborative working between all multi-disciplinary groups, irrespective of their field of practice. 

Tell us an interesting fact people don’t know about you. 

I once wrote a poem which was published in an anthology sent to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for their Royal Wedding. One of my aims for 2021 is to rekindle my love for poetry.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the UKCPA or its members. We encourage readers to follow links and references to primary research papers and guidance.

Competing interest statement: 

The author declares: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

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