Natasha Callender – The Pharmaceutical Journal

For Natasha Callender, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder of the inequalities that exist within the health system.

“COVID-19 amplified inequalities of all kinds, but initially we saw that the majority of deaths involved professionals from ethnic minorities, then we saw that it was happening in the community,” she explains. .

“It highlighted that there are people within our communities who have layers of inequality.”

It was this awareness that inspired Callender to use his position at the time, as a clinical researcher for the UK pharmaceutical director, to help lead difficult discussions at the heart of NHS England about how to make the practice. more inclusive pharmacy.

As his proponent put it: “His willingness to share his own experiences and lead discussions on a range of sensitive and critical topics, including racism and health inequalities, has acted as a catalyst for many. others explore and develop their understanding and position. “

The result was the Joint National Plan for Inclusive Pharmacy Practice, produced in collaboration with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) and others, which sets out actions to address equality, diversity and inclusion in health care in England.

If we really want patients to achieve the best results, we need to make sure we understand the differences in our communities.

Callender chaired the advisory group and helped draft the outcome document. “[If] we really want patients to have the best outcomes we have to make sure we understand the differences in our communities, ”she explains.

She is still in the early stages of her career, but her ability to think big has defined her from the start; While studying at King’s College London (KCL), it was a common joke among her fellow students that she would stay in the profession for no more than five years before seeking new pasture.

After holding various hospital positions in hospital wards in Oxford and London, Callender returned to KCL in 2015 to complete a Masters scholarship funded by the National Institute for Health Research to support asthma self-management in the ‘adult.

The MSc took her to a drug optimization role in Lewisham, South London, where she performed complex polypharmacy drug reviews and deprescribing for frail and elderly patients confined to home in primary and secondary care. .

His intelligent and analytical approach has led to several projects on drug safety and prescribing high-risk drugs, particularly disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and direct oral anticoagulants, one of which has been highly praised by the National Institute. for Health and Care Excellence in 2020.

The project used the Pharmacist-Led Medication Error Intervention Computer System (PINCER) to reduce the risk of preventable harm when prescribing and monitoring oral methotrexate. Between December 2018 and May 2019, the total number of people recommended for oral methotrexate for quarterly blood monitoring appointments increased from 59% to 85%.

However, Callender still wanted to better understand how to tie health policy to real change. This prompted her to apply for the Clinical Fellowship with the Pharmaceutical Director through the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management.

“I haven’t followed a very traditional career path at all. It was therefore an opportunity for me to bring together all these skills. I really enjoyed doing my high impact work. So I thought I’d let myself learn how this is done on a larger scale.

She helps others follow in her footsteps, bringing together leaders from across the profession, including the General Pharmaceutical Council and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, to create a new model of clinical academic career path for pharmacists.

“We don’t have a research culture within our profession, yet we make a lot of evidence-based decisions,” she explains.

“For me, it’s about developing a clinical academic path for pharmacists in order to do so.

A pilot has already started testing it, with five candidates in the first year. Callender’s work is changing the face of the pharmacy profession and we haven’t seen the end of it yet.

For me, it was about the afterlife and the bravery of conversation – that element of being able to speak openly about your experiences.

“Natasha has had a quantifiable impact on the profession by focusing on clinical academic careers, but it is the personal impact of sharing her lived experiences that sets her apart. “

“She has shown the courage we need in the profession to change the culture.”

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