Claire Anderson: snorkelling, multitasking and FIP

A minute in the company of the academic, pharmacy education advocate and chair of the 2018 FIP World Congress host committee.

Claire Wynn Anderson, academic, pharmacy education advocate and chair of the 2018 FIP World Congress host committee

Who has influenced you the most?

A family friend, ‘Uncle John’, was a community pharmacist. I would watch him talk to people he cared for about health, social issues and their medicines. I will never forget the compassion with which he talked to drug users.

Do you have any regrets about becoming a pharmacist?

No, and I am still very passionate about the profession.

What personal ambition do you still have?

I have snorkelled in the Great Barrier Reef but not yet learnt to dive.

What has been your best career move?

Moving sectors from hospital to community in 1987, and then to academia in 1989.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a pharmacist?

I would be running a high-end restaurant by the sea. I would also learn Welsh.

Your degree, be it MPharm or PhD, is only the beginning and you can never predict where it’s going to lead you.

If you didn’t need the sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Sadly, more work — I love it — but also spending time with friends and family.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you give to your students?

Keep on learning; keep on reflecting. Your degree, be it MPharm or PhD, is only the beginning and you can never predict where it’s going to lead you.

What is currently the biggest issue facing students, trainees and newly qualified pharmacists?

The widening gap between what we teach and what happens in practice. Sadly, they still end up largely dispensing when we have prepared them for a much more clinical future.

As the rest of the world accelerates towards a clinical PharmD, we are in danger of being left behind, at least at undergraduate level.

How can individuals overcome this?

Take the right pathways, so the future is yours to lead and grasp. There are lots of new roles and new models of care waiting to be embraced. Thankfully, we are beginning the journey to develop foundation training for the whole profession.

Outside of your job, when people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?

Relationships, life in general and work issues.

What are some small things that make your day better?

My wonderful team of colleagues and collaborators, my family and the view from my office window.

I admire those who work day in, day out, to make a real difference in their communities’ despite numerous obstacles.

Who in pharmacy has impressed you most with what they have accomplished?

I admire those who work day in, day out, to make a real difference in their communities’ despite numerous obstacles.

What are you most looking forward to in the next ten years?

Making a difference to students, pharmacy education and research, via my roles at the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform (
SPHIER) project. I’ll probably retire in the next ten years to enable others to take the baton and carry on some of the things I have begun.

I think it’s important to know when to go while things are still going well!

What will the role of the pharmacist be in the future?

More clinical and patient focused. Pharmacists will manage multiple long-term conditions, providing complex support with medicines through full integration into the multidisciplinary primary care team.

More will be done digitally and robotically, allowing us to move to a service-based role, having longer consultations with patients about their medicines, health and wellbeing.

What is the most rewarding part of being involved with the FIP Workforce Development Hub?

Working with wonderful colleagues from around the globe and hopefully making a difference to workforce and education, and therefore to practice, via our toolkits, vision and the FIP Workforce Development Goals.

What role will you play in the upcoming FIP Conference in Glasgow?

I am chair of the host committee and lead for academic capacity in the workforce development hub. I will be welcoming everyone to Glasgow and ensuring they have a wonderful conference.

It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity having FIP in the UK and I encourage everyone to come. The FIP Congress is all about realising what you can learn from others all over the world, as well as having an opportunity to showcase all we do in the UK.

What two lessons have you learnt through your work with the SPHEIR project?

That development work isn’t easy — it’s a whole new world with its own acronyms and ways of working. I have learnt a lot about using theory of change for monitoring, evaluation and learning during projects.

What is your top tip for juggling all your responsibilities?

I multitask, otherwise I don’t think I’d survive. Downtime is important and holidays away from email and social media are crucial. Always have a positive mindset; always think you can. Luckily my cup is always at least half full!

How do you manage feelings of self-doubt?

I talk to colleagues and friends. Women are particularly prone to self-doubt and women academics often suffer from imposter syndrome, feeling they don’t deserve their achievements.

Where do you usually go when you have time off?

Goa or Anglesey!

What question would you most like to know the answer to?

What causes Alzheimer’s and dementia and how it can be treated — I lost my father to Alzheimer’s disease.

What do you take for granted?

I try to take nothing for granted. Always being thankful and appreciative of what people do.

What’s worth spending more on to get the best?

Pharmacy education — a truly clinical and integrated course.

Research — so we can find out the answers not only to scientific questions but matters affecting the development of practice and education.

When people look at you, what do you think they see/think?

Hopefully, a successful woman leader.

If you had the chance to do it all again, what would you change?

Nothing much really. I would have completed my PhD on its own without fitting the research around my role as a lecturer and course leader.

Know an interesting pharmacist or pharmacy technician?

Let us know if there is anyone you think The Pharmaceutical Journal should feature. Email with their name and contact details.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, September 2018, Vol 301, No 7917;301(7917):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205265

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