Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Balancing Science & Parenthood: Reflections from an Advanced Oncology Pharmacist

This International Day of Women and Girls in Science I thought I’d share some of my own reflections about my career so far as an Advanced Oncology Pharmacist at Velindre Cancer Centre and how I’ve been able to integrate my working life with my responsibilities as a parent.

Becoming a cancer pharmacist

I’ve been registered since 2004, training within general secondary care whilst studying for my postgraduate clinical diploma, along with working as a locum pharmacist within community pharmacy on weekends during the first 10 years of my career. I then became a specialist cancer pharmacist in 2007 which involved fulfilling clinical-based duties and becoming an independent prescriber in 2010. I have prescribed cancer treatments and other relevant medicines as part of a collaborative multi-professional team for both breast and gynaecology cancer patients since qualifying, which is an aspect of my role I have always valued.

Getting involved in pharmacogenomics

Within the last four years of my career, I have become more involved in project management to improve patient care. In 2020 I co-led an implementation pilot project alongside two consultant oncologists and a project manager to implement a pharmacogenomic test, known as DPYD testing, prior to a patient receiving a specific chemotherapy drug for the treatment of their cancer. This ignited my passion for the impact that genomics and pharmacogenomics have on patients and the UK healthcare system.

Combining work and home life

I’ve been able to work part-time at Velindre since having my children which has made all the difference in creating a good work/life balance. Since January 2022, I have been seconded to the RPS to work from home two days a week to lead the development of their pharmacogenomics project whilst continuing my clinical commitments at Velindre Cancer Centre. I have embraced this new challenge and feel inspired by how pharmacogenomics will impact patient care and potentially change our healthcare systems.

I’ve found organisations are now more relaxed about working flexibly from home which compliments my work-life balance as a working mother. In my spare time, I’m studying for my Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) research which I started 9 years ago and confess was so much easier when I didn’t have children! But I’m determined to complete and achieve my professional doctorate studies in the near future.

Attitudes to women in science have changed demonstrably during my lifetime. My work is my passion and I’m excited about what I do and what the future will hold. I’d love more women and girls to take up a career in science and feel inspired by developments in science and how they can benefit patient care.

We want to encourage voices that express the diversity of lived experiences in the profession as part of our inclusion and diversity work. If you’d like to share your story, contact [email protected] or get involved through our ABCD group.

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