With a background in biochemistry, Oksana Pyzik began her academic career at the University of Guelph, Canada, and then went on to pursue a master of pharmacy degree at the UCL School of Pharmacy in London. Now she is pursuing a PhD at UCL in pharmacy education and policy alongside her teaching.
“A strong foundation in the sciences has enabled me to apply and explore the wide breadth of pharmaceutical sciences from formulation to practice,” she says. “There are certainly exciting developments in personalised medication that will revolutionise how we take and use medicines in the future. I believe the most rapid progress will be made in oncology, where such medicines, although few, already exist.”
In the dynamic field of healthcare, the challenge will be to prepare students for the current market and for what could be a radically different future, says Miss Pyzik. “The current manufacturing and dispensing models are on the verge of change and, in order for the profession to survive, pharmacists must be able to adapt and offer the public a wider set of services and cognitive skills to stay relevant. I believe that future challenges facing pharmacy will require tomorrow’s pharmacists to communicate and collaborate with greater emotional intelligence and situational awareness, employ managerial roles to a greater extent, use a wider range of clinical skills in new environments and operate new technologies.”
She added: “From an educational standpoint this will require more from students than factual knowledge of the ‘classic’ and applied sciences. To practise pharmacy effectively and accountably, it is crucial for students to build a sound, contemporary and comprehensive knowledge base along with patient- and physician-directed communication skills.”
Miss Pyzik believes that, in many ways, pharmacists are educators in their own right, empowering and teaching patients how best to use their medicines. From her own experience, she believes a practice-based approach must be integrated within the sciences and understood from a policy point of view. As not only, an alumna of “The Square”, but also as a former staff member, having previously worked as a teacher practitioner, Miss Pyzik is a familiar face among both staff and students. “Although much has changed since my days here as a student, it still feels like home,” she says.
Since she first arrived in London with a scholarship and a suitcase in hand, she has energetically sought research opportunities in the UK and abroad and, as a result, has extensively widened her network and scope of practice. At UCL, there are many opportunities for students to prepare and pursue international experiences and careers, says Miss Pyzik.
After completing her preregistration training in community pharmacy, she went on to practise as a locum around London. “In delivering healthcare to marginalised minority groups, I was able to witness how various NHS policies and programmes played out in the community, for better or for worse. This deepened my interest in public health and pharmacy law since it underpins all such polices, and led to my research in the field,” she says.
In 2011 Miss Pyzik relocated to the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) headquarters in The Hague, The Netherlands, where she was the lead pharmacist researcher on a collaborative project titled “Pharmacy law and competition law: feuding laws or working in partnership?”
She has presented her research and debated among experts at international conferences, such as the European Law Students’ Association International Focus Programme, Mid Evaluation Conference on Health Law and Human Rights in Trieste, Italy, the International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation 58th World Congress in Hurghada, Egypt, and, more recently, at the FIP Centennial Congress in Amsterdam in 2012.
In addition, Miss Pyzic is a contributor to the International Pharmacy Journal, covering topics such as health economics, leadership in pharmacy, pharmacy law, professionalism and multidisciplinary collaboration within the healthcare field.
In 2012, she was selected as an IPSF delegate at the World Health Organization’s 65th World Health Assembly in Geneva, where she assisted in drafting interventions addressing the critical issue of spurious, falsely-labelled, falsified and counterfeit medicines.
Her previous work with student organisations, both as a student and as a teacher, further developed her enthusiasm and interest in education. She has teamed up with colleague Nadia Bukhari, clinical lecturer, student support manager and preregistration co-ordinator, and is a speaker at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society preregistration mock examination and revision conferences.
“Central to my identity as a pharmacist, researcher and lecturer is my passion and commitment, both personally and professionally, to lifelong learning and continuous professional development,” Miss Pyzik says.
“I believe these values and habits must be instilled and practised early on in pharmacy education to increase confidence, competence in practice and, ultimately, optimise patient care. I fully embrace the challenge to inspire our students and professionals alike, and provide them with the skills and self-confidence necessary to succeed as future health professionals and to rise as leaders of the industry.