Use every opportunity you have to make a difference

Pharmacist Monica Sudra speaks to Jeff Mills about her early career in pharmacovigilance and collaborating with the RPS

The impact that pharmacists can have, not only in patient care but as members of a multidisciplinary team, was one of the factors that Monica Sudra, scientific adviser at GlaxoSmithKline, found particularly impressive when training to become a pharmacist.

“I completed a split preregistration training programme between the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry,” explains Ms Sudra. “I was at the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust for the first six months and then went into product research and development at GSK. I also maintained a part-time role in community pharmacy as a dispenser for Boots.

“It was wonderfully fulfilling to be active in three areas of the profession — dispensing, hospital care and research — and to be able to apply the knowledge gleaned from one aspect of practice to another.”

Continuing the momentum

Now a qualified pharmacist, Ms Sudra has over two years’ experience working in pharmacovigilance as a clinical safety scientist, and has recently become a scientific adviser in medical affairs at GSK. “I also have experience working across community and hospital pharmacy, and in other sectors of research and development within the pharmaceutical industry.”

Part of her role at GSK is to analyse and process adverse event reports from products across all therapeutic areas, using her scientific and professional judgement to ensure all cases are medically correct and accurate.

Ms Sudra recently worked with GSK’s global communications team and produced a feature for the office of the chief medical officer to highlight and reinforce the importance of pharmacovigilance and patient safety at the company. This involved producing a video and helping to create informative guidance documents.

She has delivered a presentation about her pharmacovigilance role to an audience of graduates and scientists at a conference organised by the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and has led projects to implement changes in legislation, working practices, protocols and guidance.

Ms Sudra reveals that she keeps her clinical knowledge up to date by working as a locum pharmacist at weekends — engaging with patients and promoting and ensuring compliance with medicines.

But it is not all hard work: when she is not at her desk, in a laboratory or involved in conferences and other commitments, Ms Sudra enjoys travelling, aerobics, swimming, yoga and vegetarian cooking to keep herself mentally and physically fit. She also spends some of her leisure time dancing, singing and playing musical instruments.

Collaborating with the RPS

“Membership of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has provided me with many great opportunities for professional development that have fuelled my interest in pharmacy and helped my career, too,” explains Ms Sudra.

“I am intrigued by the Society’s efforts to shape the profession and have considered how I can contribute to the way it serves its members,” she remarks.

“My first collaboration with the RPS was in the establishment of a mentoring scheme for pharmacists.

“I have since represented the  industry sector of pharmacy at local practice forum preregistration events and I have been an active advocate for the Society — speaking to trainee pharmacists and pharmacy students across the country about the support the RPS can provide them in the early stages of their careers.”

According to Ms Sudra, her most rewarding experience of working with the RPS so far has been her role on the advisory panel for the latest edition of “Medicines, ethics and practice”.

“I learnt a great deal from some well established members of the profession,” she says. “I was also humbled when the Society supported me at an event I had organised at GSK that informed preregistration pharmacists about careers in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Future plans

Ms Sudra is looking forward to building on her career at GSK to continually work towards improving public health.

“I’m keen to further develop and enhance my professional skills and I look forward to making the most of the RPS Faculty recognition programme,” she says.

“As I progress, I hope to continue to work closely with the RPS to help enhance its professional support for members,” she adds.

“My one piece of advice to anyone in the profession,” suggests Ms Sudra, “would be to make the most of every opportunity that comes your way; I truly believe this is the best way to gain the maximum from what you do and make a difference.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 1 March 2014, Vol 292, No 7799;292(7799):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.11135066

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