Snapshot: Pharmacist, Boots. Developer of ipharmacistuk and co-founder of www.askhala.com
Hala Jawad has worked in a community pharmacy setting and as a GP practice pharmacist, and has experience in retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy (as a student) and management.
What excites you about being a pharmacist?
I am keen to continue to reinforce the pharmacist’s role online to encourage the public to adopt new approaches to improving their health. I believe that through providing new services to support patients, we can encourage healthier behaviour and empower patients to take more control over their own care or treatment.
I enjoy socialising, both in the real world and through social media. I am particularly enthusiastic about the role of the pharmacist in social media, and, to that end, I developed my own media channel, ipharmacistuk. I am also co-founder of www.askhala.com
When you graduated, what did you envision for your future?
I have always enjoyed talking to and helping people. I have had a keen interest in science and healthcare; hence pharmacy was an obvious choice to allow me to combine my interest in health science with my social skills.
How has your career evolved since you first started in the profession?
I started as a community pharmacist and then fell into the role of GP pharmacist by accident back in 2015, after spending a week volunteering in a GP surgery to find out what it involved. I have worked in four practices, with a high degree of clinical involvement in each.
This was different to the role I had envisaged on graduating but reflects the greater understanding of the contribution that all pharmacists can make to a patient’s wellbeing. It is only comparatively recently that a pharmacist’s clinical knowledge has been recognised in community pharmacy as a greatly under-used asset.
I then moved into airport pharmacy, which is fast-paced, exciting and immensely stimulating. I would strongly recommend it.
How would you describe a great day at work?
This would be where I have made a positive difference to someone’s day and learnt something new.
What is (or has been) your greatest challenge as a leader in pharmacy?
I am not sure I am a leader in pharmacy but it is something I love talking about! In the early days, one of my greatest challenges was getting people to take me seriously and convince them that I had something to contribute. Being a woman from a minority background sometimes meant that unconscious bias came into play causing some people to make assumptions about my abilities.
How important was mentoring in your career?
I have been very fortunate to have been mentored by some very professional, experienced people both in pharmacy and in other healthcare sectors such as the GP surgery. I have learnt important lessons from all of them, which gave me the confidence to develop myself and give a solid foundation to my career. I strongly believe that we should always pass on our knowledge to those less experienced than ourselves and I am always available for younger pharmacists. As I start each new adventure in pharmacy, I always try to find a mentor to guide me through the development of a new skill.
Was there an “aha” moment for you, when you realized the impact of the difference you’re making?
I’m a pharmacist who’s passionate about all things pharmacy! I think the “aha” moment came when I started receiving positive feedback both from patients and fellow healthcare professionals. Responses of this type always encourage me to push myself further so that I can make a beneficial difference to someone’s health.
As a leader in pharmacy, what continues to drive you?
Helping expand people’s involvement in their own health and giving them the tools to do so has been a great driving force for me. Being able to learn new ways to help others is immensely stimulating and I am very thankful for the opportunities I have been given.
Looking at your career, what are you the proudest of? What have been some of the highlights of your career?
This year I have been elected to the PDA Union Regional Committee in the South, during the pandemic. Health & Safety guidance and campaigns have been vital to supporting pharmacists so it essential for pharmacists to have representatives who can give members a voice at work.
Being the co- founder of “ASKHALA.COM” helped develop my understanding of the power of the internet. I am a member of various organisations including the International Forum for Wellbeing in Pregnancy (IFWIP) advisory board, an associate member for MORPH training, and a panel member at the UK Diabetes Network.
I am very proud to be a pharmacist at Boots.
I am immensely proud that my work has been recognised in various ways including becoming the very first Pharma Face and acknowledgement of my involvement in several women’s healthcare initiatives.
What legacy would you like to leave to the pharmacy profession?
I would hope that I have contributed in some small way to the greater involvement of women, especially those from minority groups, in the highest levels of pharmacy. It is a wonderful profession that needs to constantly evolve and reflect the diversity of its members.
Do you feel there is a glass ceiling for women in pharmacy?
This has certainly been the impression that many female pharmacists have been left with over the years but I sincerely hope actions by women such as myself will demonstrate that the profession is changing, and in many cases has changed, for the better.
Women are making a big name for themselves in pharmacy. What does this mean to you professionally and personally?
Women have always made a great and lasting contribution to pharmacy. I am very pleased that this is now being recognised and acknowledged more often than it has been in the past. We should all be treated as equals and I am encouraged that pharmacy has made significant progress in this direction.
What do you think needs to happen to have more women in executive roles across various sectors in the profession?
Executive roles, and any role for that matter in pharmacy, should always be filled by the person most qualified to do the job regardless of gender. The world is constantly changing and I do believe that women are becoming more confident to challenge the gender norms that have been in place throughout history.
How are women paving the way for changes in the pharmacy profession?
Thanks to the increase in social media including 24/7 access to information, I believe that women are becoming more visible and more confident in the upper levels of pharmacy. I am indebted to the women that have gone before me and I hope that I am playing some small part in maintaining that visibility and progress. Change will essentially come from within and I hope that women are at the forefront of that change.
What advice would you give to new female pharmacy graduates?
Pharmacy is a stimulating, worthwhile profession that has the power to make a positive difference to so many people.
Be yourself and stand up for what you believe in. Have confidence in your abilities and your worth. Learn something new every day and challenge any negative norms you encounter along the way. And have fun!!