Aiysha Raoof was the only pharmacist to enter primary care straight from preregistration training in all of Leeds when she started in 2019. And she has not looked back since.
In her first job as a pharmacist for the Leeds GP Confederation, she showed the clinical and leadership skills expected of a pharmacist qualified for many years. She reviewed complex patients across five GP practices; reached out to patient participation groups to involve them in decisions regarding care; and took part in vital quality improvement projects, for example, ensuring all patients on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were prescribed a proton pump inhibitor.
“I worked closely with each practice to tidy up any issues and understand what each practice was hoping for, or how they liked to work,” says Raoof, who proactively moved between practices to solidify interpractice relationships.
In July 2020, she accepted a new job as a specialist primary care network (PCN) pharmacist in Nottinghamshire with Primary Integrated Community Services, a local health provider. She has already settled into her new role, using telemedicine to consult with patients and producing support packs for her wider PCN with guidance on the clinical and holistic aspects of a medication review.
“In this job I have a lot of input with the clinical directors, creating medicines review templates and Excel spreadsheets to tackle [the] directed enhanced service and quality and outcomes framework each quarter,” she says.
But her passion as a pharmacist advocate is what really sets Raoof apart, with her nominator saying she “has been an inspiration for all students who have used her services somewhere down their path to becoming a pharmacist”.
Raoof says: “When I went to university, there weren’t many people who looked like me. I was elected to be on the equality and diversity committee for my school, and I’m still trying to do that now: supporting university students, and not just in pharmacy.”
Since qualifying, Raoof has sat in two equality and diversity groups: first, for the NHS Leeds clinical commissioning group, and more recently, a Nottingham primary care racial equity and diversity group. She was also featured on NHS England’s Eid video to promote health and social distancing advice to the Muslim community celebrating Ramadan during lockdown.
Earlier in 2020, Raoof took on the additional role of education and training executive at PharmaSense, a medical education company providing support for all healthcare professionals; she has also developed a webinar series covering topics such as apps and resources for pharmacy preregistration training, what to expect within different pharmacy sectors, and advice on applications and interviews.
The first webinar was joined by more than 200 people. “We class ourselves as being peer support, in that it’s a much more natural environment, which wasn’t there before,” says Raoof. “There were various companies around, but very specific … they provided resources or exam questions, but that’s all.”
Raoof says PharmaSense has helped more than 30 pharmacy students, preregistration trainees and provisionally registered pharmacists find employment since the start of the pandemic. “The impact is enormous [even] if we look at pharmacy alone,” she says — but the support is also available to medical and nursing peers.
Raoof does all this while currently studying for an MSc at the University of Bradford in foundation pharmacy practice.
Her personal experience with healthcare has been a factor in the career decisions she has made, after being hospitalised while at university. “It helped me to relate; I could see it from the point of view of the patient, and I always try to find out what the patient wants.”
She says her mother and sister have contributed greatly to her success: “They’ve pushed me to achieve all I can and to overcome every barrier I have faced, from health to career.”
Raoof has come across those who overlooked her talent, both as a student and a pharmacist. “You do need to believe in yourself. People will underestimate your abilities, but you are ‘not just a pharmacist’, and you need to put yourself forward.”
“I was struck by her youth and what she has already done in her career”
“Aiysha is definitely one to watch: as a clinical pharmacist with an interest in education, as well as her leadership in equality and diversity
“ Aiysha has demonstrated strong leadership throughout her career, and has taken career risks to progress and carve a path for others”
Meet the rest of The Pharmaceutical Journal’s Women to Watch 2020 here.