Marie-Anne Durham: coffee, ethics and David Attenborough

Spend a minute getting to know the winner of the 2018 Scottish Pharmacy Awards Student Leadership Prize.

picture collage of Marie Anne Durham

Why did you decide to study pharmacy?

I am interested in healthcare innovation that transform lives. The pharmacist acts as the interface between very sophisticated science and patients, which is a unique responsibility.

Describe the work you undertook that led to you win the 2018 Scottish Pharmacy Awards Student Leadership Prize.

I am the social media coordinator for the Robert Gordon University Pharmacy Law and Ethics Group. I connect with a diverse audience of fellow students and alumni to raise awareness of ethical issues and new legislation in pharmacy. I highlight relevant articles and journals and help to organise attendance at our debates, most recently on self-injecting facilities.

What is the significance of this award?

The award places student success on the same level as the achievements of qualified and experienced pharmacists. It recognises the role of students in shaping pharmacy practice in Scotland.

How did you become involved with the Robert Gordon University Pharmacy Law and Ethics Group?

I read an article about Amazon moving into the pharmacy sector which I thought was really interesting, and slightly daunting. For the role of social media coordinator, I described my interest in the article and how I would use social media to create awareness outside of the university bubble.

What is the purpose of the group?

The group aims to encourage students to be interested in, and keep up to date with, changes in pharmacy practice. We provide current information to reflect the dynamic nature of the profession, which is difficult to accommodate within a rigid university syllabus.

What is your ultimate career goal?

To work as a pharmacist in a different country. I was a student volunteer at the International Pharmaceutical Federation World Congress 2018, and it was fascinating to experience the universal passion for providing patient care, regardless of whether you’re a pharmacist in Iceland or India.

Who would you most/least want to be stuck in an elevator with, and why?

Most: Sir David Attenborough because I’m sure he would have amazing stories to tell.

Least: I don’t have a ‘least’ person because I would find being alone in a broken elevator completely terrifying.

What skill would you like to master?

Skiing — I have terrible balance so it’s going to take lots of falling over and getting back up again.

What is the biggest challenge currently facing pharmacy students?

Lack of professional and clinical experience integrated as part of the degree. There are limited opportunities for practical experience to help inform future career choices and reinforce clinical knowledge.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Qualified and working as part of a skilled and experienced healthcare team. Building a professional identity, gaining confidence in my ability to make recommendations for patient treatment and helping resolve prescribing dilemmas.

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

Yvonne Henderson, pharmacy manager on my summer Boots placement. She was able to recognise a cough needing referral when a patient’s lungs were filled with fluid. Through her actions, I realised how the pharmacist can make a difference in patients’ lives everyday, even if they’ve just popped in to pick up paracetamol.

What are you absolutely determined to do in your career?

Complete my independent prescribing qualification so I can implement positive change in patient medication regimens.

There are two types of people in this world. What are the two types?

People who only need one alarm to wake up in the morning and people who need several alarms and hit snooze on each one.

How would your friends describe you?

Before coffee: quiet and sleepy. After coffee: friendly, supportive and hard working.

How do you deal with failure?

Listening to the ‘How to Fail’ podcast by the journalist Elizabeth Day. The interviewees are all celebrated and successful with lots of experience of failure, which is reassuring.

How would you summarise your personality in three words?

Caring, conscientious, creative.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

All opportunities and ambitions are possible — the only limits are the ones you place on yourself.

What would you change if you had to do it all again?

I would take a gap year to spend time working and travelling. I’d love to learn to surf, snorkel or skydive.

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

Training to be a paramedic — their skilled, caring and rapid response to emergencies saves lives.

If you were a drug, what drug would you be and why?

Paracetamol. Relieving all types of pain — from headaches and period cramps to sprained ankles and stubbed toes, so people can focus on changing the world. 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Marie-Anne Durham: coffee, ethics and David Attenborough;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20206018

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