Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Dyslexia: dealing with the challenges of a hidden disability

By Adam Ali, GP Practice Pharmacist

My name is Adam Ali and I have dyslexia. This hidden disability has meant I’ve had to overcome many challenges to work as a pharmacist in general practice. I have enormous sympathy for those students who also face challenges with neurodiversity, and I’m changing my career to help them.

Overcoming obstacles

Passing my pre-registration exam was a real challenge. I had to take the exam three times. However, with hard work I was able to pull through. Overcoming this obstacle boosted my confidence, before being faced with the challenge of passing my prescribing exam.

There’s a lot of interest in issues surrounding learning difficulties and neurodiversity, but the problem is this hasn’t been embedded or promoted in healthcare education.

Having been fortunate to work in all sectors of pharmacy, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor a range of students - and one common theme is a lack of confidence.

There are a great deal of students who have dyslexia, autism, or other conditions that can potentially impact their ability to understand key aspects from both a clinical and practice perspective. This is where the students can face difficulty and this results in a lack of confidence. And that’s why I decided to find ways to support them.

Back to school

Seeing first-hand the challenges that these students faced day-to-day, I decided to undertake a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) to help them overcome the obstacles that I’d found in my way.

I wanted to pursue this so I could find innovative ways to support students with concepts they find difficult. This includes helping pharmacy pre-registration students with their assessment, or supporting students studying healthcare who find understanding concepts very difficult.

One benefit the PGCE has given me are methods to support those with neurodiversity and how to deliver the content in bitesize chunks.

What next?

After completion of my PGCE I want to specialise in neurodiversity education and create awareness in healthcare about the issues that students with learning difficulties face, so that students don’t have to face the same difficulties I did.

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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