Clinical Pharmacist in ICU
Where do you work and what do you do?
I’m based on the ICU where as a clinical pharmacist I help ensure our patients are receiving the correct medication at the right dose for their current clinical status.
Many of our ICU patients have multi-organ dysfunction, so we may recommend dose modifications depending on their clinical presentation. We also assist the nurses in advising how to give intravenous medications, and because ICU patients may receive several infusions at once this may involve advice on how to use the different IV lines.
We also give information on medicines to doctors when they’re prescribing and ensure we have the most up-to-date list of the patient’s medications for the hospital team. This involves talking to the patient or their family about their medication – which is a great part of the job.
I’m also attending the Acute Pain ward round once a week, which is a great opportunity for a pharmacist to get involved in the treatment of acute pain. I’ve recently completed my PostGrad Certificate in Pain Management, which has been very interesting and given me a new insight into the importance of the non-pharmacological aspects of pain management. It’s not all about the drugs!!
Are you doing any extra-curricular work?
I’m the Hospital Pharmacist representative on the Medicines Adverse Reaction Committee (MARC) at the Ministry of Health, which meets four times a year. This has been a really interesting role, as a committee we advise Medsafe about the safety of approved medicines. Preventing adverse drug reactions and safety of medicines is an important role for a clinical pharmacist especially in an ICU setting, so I really appreciate being able to contribute to the process at the Ministry.
How long have you been doing this work for?
A long time! I started my career in Dunedin Hospital as an intern pharmacist in 1990 and then after a few years there I travelled to the UK. This was the highlight of my career, as I worked in a number of hospitals including five years at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London. I was lucky enough to complete my MSc in Clinical Pharmacy there and enjoyed working with many skilled clinical pharmacists. We moved to Taranaki 14 years ago and I’ve been with TDHB for just over 12 years.
How did you get to here?
I’ve worked mainly in hospitals, in many different clinical areas including a dermatology hospital, worked as a medicines information pharmacist and finally in ICU after completing my MSc research in cardiothoracic surgery patients. Then on my return to New Zealand, I was a team leader for surgical pharmacists at Auckland City Hospital. Before moving to Taranaki I worked as a pharmacist facilitator at Western Bay of Plenty PHO (Primary Health Organisation).
What’s the best thing about your job?
Working with a great team of nurses, doctors and pharmacists. I really love it when I get to contribute significantly to a patient’s care. Good health care truly is multidisciplinary.
What inspires you to keep doing your work?
It’s a great privilege to help patients and to work with other health professionals to optimise a patient’s medication and improve their health outcomes.
What does the future hold, any big plans or dreams?
Maybe the Prescribing Pharmacist qualification, if my family let me do some more study?? It would be great to see some expanded clinical roles for clinical pharmacists at Taranaki DHB to allow for career progression. And in a post-COVID-19 world maybe living overseas again, but that will have to wait until the teenagers have left home – although living in Taranaki is pretty perfect.
What do you like to do outside of work?
We’re renovating our house which includes a big garden, so that keeps us busy. And Ruby the miniature schnauzer, a relatively new addition to our family, loves lots of attention when she’s not getting lots of beauty sleep.