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‘I don’t want the challenges of dyslexia to hold any pharmacist back’

Having dyslexia as a pharmacist certainly makes certain tasks harder, but Adam Ali has developed techniques to ensure his pharmacy career continues to thrive

Battling the challenges of dyslexia can have an impact on your studies and I certainly found that was the case when pushing ahead through the pre-registration exam – it was difficult.

Having to sit the exam three times was a tough experience, but this gave me the determination to get the best out of my career. From working in sales, locuming, industry, GP practice, care homes and then going onto undertake a teaching degree (PGCE), I have gained a wealth of experience and now have an insight into the challenges that pharmacists and trainee pharmacists face every day in different settings.

Having these transferable skills has also given me the opportunity to support colleagues and provide advice to those looking to change their career path.

From an academic perspective, I have faced many issues with exams or just simply understanding complex information. One issue that I have found is the complexity of processing information and being able to apply my knowledge into everyday practice. However, the increased exposure that I have gained in different situations has increased my confidence in dealing with problems that manifest in clinical practice and being able to solve them.

During my time in community pharmacy, I had to check drugs with similar names a lot more carefully, which took a little longer. To avoid mistakes, I developed a system of checking the medicines in alphabetical order and taking a mental break between checking similar drugs.

One of my main struggles at work has been processing information in a more succinct manner. This can include interpreting the requirements of clinical services, delving into a complex medication review, complex prescribing queries and interfacing with stakeholders. Devising a more structured approach with a task list and simplifying workflows has made this a lot easier to manage. 

Attending various seminars and training courses, I have seen a wealth of support for professionals and gained an understanding of the latest innovations that are supporting the profession to move forward. Since undertaking my independent prescribing course, I have also developed a keen interest in learning and development and where students can be further supported.

I decided to pursue a PGCE as I wanted to gain an insight into the fundamentals of learning and what techniques are best used to support students in practice. During my pre-reg exams, I realised there are a cohort of students who may struggle with their assessment and need that support, whether that is with pharmaceutical calculations or identifying a solution to a pharmacy-related problem. For those students that struggle with examinations, I wanted to be able to provide the resources and understanding in how to apply their knowledge of the pharmacy curriculum to practice. I don’t want the challenges of dyslexia to hold any pharmacy trainee back.

As the profession develops and more pharmacists move into GP practice or primary care network roles and other specialist areas, I want to support those who have difficulty in applying new concepts, not only so they are able to succeed in their chosen career path, but also so that the general public aren’t missing out on care from talented, patient-centred pharmacy professionals.

Adam Ali is a practice pharmacist working in a GP surgery


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