Junel Ahmed, recently elected British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association president speaks about his pharmacy journey, why he chose to run for president and his hopes for the future.
In July 2018, I will assume the role of president of the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA). I am originally from near Liverpool and studied at Liverpool John Moores University before deciding to uproot and move to London. It is safe to say that I have really enjoyed it, and my pre-registration training at Barts Health NHS Trust.
Why I chose pharmacy
The reason I chose to study pharmacy was mainly because it allowed me to combine what I learnt in biology and chemistry with patient care. I was not sure what I wanted to do going forward, but after getting to know a local pharmacist, and having access to other pharmacists, it provided me with an idea of what I could do.
Before I began my pharmacy studies, I had a vague idea of what a community pharmacist did and I had even less of a clue as to what hospital and industry pharmacists did. Now that I have immersed myself into the world of pharmacy, I see how naÃ¯ve I really was. It’s amazing to see how varied the role of a pharmacist can be. I have had the great fortune to be in close contact with pharmacists working throughout many sectors within the profession — from community to industry — and it is encouraging to think that the skills of a pharmacist can be utilised to ultimately provide the best care to a patient.
Highs and lows
One of the highs of being a pharmacy student was becoming involved with the BPSA. Now, you may think that is biased coming from the future BPSA president; however, those who know me personally will attest to how I have made so many great friends throughout the years. BPSA is a great way of getting to meet like-minded people, and developing some lifelong friendships. Furthermore, I have had the opportunity to develop my skills, and network with other professionals and become involved with the profession.
The hardest part of being a student was having a number of exams within close proximity of each other.
I wouldn’t be a great Pharmacist Support Ambassador if I did not highlight the support that they provide for students, pre-regs, pharmacists, and also their families. With free and confidential services such as their wellbeing workshops and Listening Friends, it’s something I would recommend to anyone going through the stresses of being a student.
Running for president
The reason I chose to run for BPSA president was due to my past experiences. I had been on the executive for three terms previously, and I had come to appreciate the great things that the association does for its members, and how hard the executive works. I want to be there to make a difference for students, making sure that we’re engaging with our members and providing them with what they want from the association. At the same time, I want to ensure that the wonderful executive have the support and the guidance they deserve, and have the ability to develop their skills whilst doing so.
During our annual conference, our members have been very proactive, discussing changes that they want to bring to their courses, as well as changes they wish for the profession in the future. An example of this is creation of a policy stating, “This association believes that all pharmacy undergraduate students should be exposed to clinical environments from the first year of study” and was passed at annual conference in Durham last year. The role of the BPSA is to advocate for these changes by working with our stakeholders and ensuring that the voice of our members are heard.
My hopes, as president of the association is to improve how we engage with our members and ensure that we are providing them with the services they want, whether that be clinical topics, or career opportunities, and ensuring that we provide it in a way that is engaging. Additionally, we have an exciting development programme for our students launching this year, which I personally hope will be a success. It is something that our executive have been working tirelessly on for the past few years in collaboration with the Royal Pharmaceutical Societ (RPS) and other stakeholders.
Going forward, for the advocacy of students, it would be great to maintain the relationships we currently have with organisations such as the RPS as well as develop new relationships. Together we can work to ensure that the views of the students are being heard and are acted upon.