Women in healthcare: Meet pharmacist Hala Jawad
August 21, 2018
Hala Jawad is a pharmacist who has many strings to her bow.
She has worked in a community pharmacy setting and as a GP practice pharmacist, and has experience in retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy (as a student) and management.
Ms Jawad said each role has been different yet “equally vital” to her learning process.
Now, as a self-employed locum pharmacist who works for well-known high street retail pharmacies in the UK and as a GP practice pharmacist, Ms Jawad has truly taken charge of her career in healthcare.
“I have developed a special interest in public health and improving patient outcomes, and have been involved in many other activities outside of a traditional pharmacy career,” she said.
“I have tried my hand at some media-related performances and I am a member of the International Forum for Wellbeing in Pregnancy (IFWIP) advisory board.”
An evolving career
Ms Jawad began her career as a community pharmacist.
In her early days, she recalls joining a Twitter chat run by WePharmacists that led to an opportunity for her to work with Dr Andrew Whittamore, a GP at Crookhorn Surgery in Portsmouth.
“He took me under his wing to help me experience the delivery of respiratory care in the community, including the opportunity to work within the practice providing routine asthma reviews,” Ms Jawad said.
“It was interesting to see where my skills as a community pharmacist could be useful to the practice and, more importantly, to the patients. It was also an experience to understand the demands, constraints and privilege that comes with the patient-professional interaction within a GP surgery.”
Following this experience, other opportunities came knocking and Ms Jawad continued moving forward with her career.
She has also seen many changes and developments take place in the pharmaceutical industry over the years.
“New standards for pharmacy professionals came into effect in May 2017. The new roles appearing in practice pharmacy are exciting and we can play a vital role in freeing up time for GPs, helping to keep people out of our crowded hospitals,” she said.
“I believe the future of pharmacy is promising.”
Another interesting development Ms Jawad is keeping a close eye on is the science of pharmacoeconomics which, Ms Jawad said, translates to the amount of healthcare a person receives per pound that they spend, and it is measured in QALY (Quality-Adjusted Life Years).
She is also fascinated with the increasing number of pharmacists who are undertaking a non-medical prescribing course, offered as a post-graduate degree in the UK.
“This allows pharmacists to undertake the new roles being created in primary care. It is important that the skills of pharmacists are appropriately used in polypharmacy reviews to improve patient outcomes, and in moving towards a personalised centred care model, which demonstrates leadership and the ability to speak up when having concerns or when things go wrong,” she said.
Harnessing online tools
Over the years, Ms Jawad has been an avid Twitter user and boasts almost 23,000 followers on LinkedIn.
What began as joining a Twitter chat lead to being invited to the CPCongress which opened many other doors for Ms Jawad.
She then started doing live videos on Facebook and collaborated with doctors and other healthcare professionals to do interviews, in addition to starting her own YouTube channel, I Pharmacist UK.
For Ms Jawad, being active on social media has opened doors with professional networks, which has been critical to her career advancement.
“I learned a tremendous amount from the experience and expertise of the people in my network. For me, it makes sense to keep up to date with everything,” she said.
A significant project Ms Jawad has founded is askhala.com, an online platform where people can submit a pharmacy-related question to her and they will receive a professional response free of charge.
“I felt the public needed support and advice from healthcare professionals,” she said.
“I was always receiving messages privately from the public for advice on a certain medication or other queries. So, I thought I could develop a platform to help others, of course within my competencies, and try to guide people to the proper resources or seek further advice with their GP, if needed.”
Ms Jawad does not make an income from this venture but decided to do it to give back.
“As a healthcare professional, giving back is important to me. I get a sense of satisfaction from helping others,” she said.