In these strange, challenging and unprecedented times

Living up to the 'p' word

‘Unprecedented’ was the outpouring of support for our key workers. Whatever your opinion on it, the clapping every Thursday was proof of the gratitude that the country has for all the people who have propped it up during the worst days, weeks and months of this pandemic. This, of course, includes our pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, dispensers and delivery drivers who have ensured that their patients have access to their vital medicines — a service that has remained virtually unchanged. We must keep building patients’ gratitude and respect towards the pharmacy, regardless of the sector they work in. We need to push for more representation, more funding and more respect from patients, the public and other healthcare professionals.

‘Unprecedented’ were the rapid changes to the MPharm degree and preregistration training. Simply staying safe and sane over the past few months has been a struggle. Add to this studying, staying on top of online lectures and exams, or completing your preregistration year during a pandemic, and it is blindingly obvious that 2020 has been a challenge at all points on the pharmacy spectrum. This angst and anxiety in our pharmacy infancy will linger for a long time. We should be aware and attentive to these worries as we sail into the ‘new normal’.

‘Unprecedented’ was the global response to the Black Lives Matter movement. COVID-19 has shone a bright light on the deep-rooted inequalities in our society. It was timely that the pandemic should coincide with the outcry following the murder of George Floyd, which unearthed centuries of systemic racism and oppression. Pharmacy professionals and students have a commitment to patient-centred care, and it is not enough to be outraged and performative in our allyship. We must advocate for our patients and push for fair representation in leadership roles, our education and for an overall societal shift against racism. Potent inequalities are not limited to people of black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, however, and any approach to equity must be intersectional. We must challenge prejudice and discrimination based on gender, perceived class, sexual orientation and gender expression. In the words of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, “Nobody is free until everybody is free.”

‘Unprecedented’ was hunting for essentials like toilet roll, wearing face coverings, being socially isolated and fearing the loss of a loved one. We have all been through a tough time that no one in our lifetime has been through before and hopefully never will again. And, hopefully, we can learn from the past few months and create a better, safer world for everybody and a fairer, more accepting profession. 

Now that truly would be unprecendented.

Scott Rutherford, second-year pharmacy student, University of Manchester

Scott’s piece is the winner in the student and preregistration pharmacist category of our 2020 writing competition ‘Post-pandemic pharmacy: a brave new world?’

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, In these strange, challenging and unprecedented times;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20208402

You may also be interested in