“I wanted a career that was not very invasive, but that was also specialised and valuable. Pharmacy fits that bill.” – Dharrshinee Selvakumar
The journey from drug development to everyday use in patient care can be a long, arduous, and costly one. As a result, it is important for the patient that those who prescribe, dispense, or administer the medicine are well equipped with the knowledge of rational use of those medicines. The profession of a hospital pharmacist is unique for Dharrshinee because it is a very progressive and changing field. Interdisciplinary knowledge and expertise are highly sought after in medicine management; research methodologies and concepts are quite advanced. The scope of practise tends to be broad, and the capacity to influence patient care is among the most notable in the pharmacy field.
Dharrshinee received her Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Otago, New Zealand where she was immersed early on in a diverse and inclusive culture, which nurtures leadership in health. She was quick to find a balance between pharmacy studies, research, and leisure. She received the University of Otago Scholarship in Pharmacy award in her third year and carved her way into the Bachelor of Pharmacy with Honours (BPharm(Hons)) programme in her 4th year which comprises the standard Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) programme with additional training in advanced research design, methodologies, techniques, and analysis resulting in a research dissertation offered to a small academically select group of undergraduate pharmacy students who have achieved a high GPA and have an interest in research careers.
After graduating with a First Class Honours in 2016 from Otago, she went back to Malaysia and completed her provisional training in a busy tertiary government hospital in Klang, Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang in 2018. She then started her career as a licensed pharmacist in a community clinic setting in Kuala Langat, Selangor for the next 3 years. Seeking a career progression, she then joined the pharmacy team at Beacon Hospital as a hospital pharmacist. She recalls her voyage here.
“Pharmacy is a career where you become a patient advocate, ensuring safe medicine use while taking into consideration their values and preferences.”
What does a typical day workday look like for you?
My position can be overwhelming at times, but it is also very rewarding. Each day, I work to find a balance between my many responsibilities, which include patient care, scholarly/research, and staff teaching.
Some of my most commons tasks include dispensing medications to patients, performing drug, device, disease, and medication counselling to patients, communicating with doctors on pharmacological care interventions, training new staff and implementing learning materials for new pharmacy staff, improving workflow processes, participating in, and coordinating quality improvement initiatives at the department as assigned, and lead shifts and/or team when required.
I knew that medication knowledge was rapidly expanding and evolving, which caused this specialty to be in high demand. And I was also aware that medical management with pharmacotherapy was a primary method for treating and managing patients.
The pharmacy career is a combination of pharmacy and research. They go hand in hand. Rather than just discussing the safe use of medicine to a patient, I can impact patients nationally with the results of my research. This hopefully means I can encourage evidence-based practice and the safe use of medicine on a larger scale. This is what drove me to embark into my postgraduate journey at IMU.
My Master in Pharmacy Practice Journey
I came to know about IMU’s Master in Pharmacy Practice (MPP) programme while searching for available, reputable clinical pharmacy postgraduate programmes available in the country. I came to know that IMU was one of the very few local universities that has part-time study, allowing pharmacists to continue working while undertaking a flexible schedule of campus-based classes and experiential learning.
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” –Walt Disney
Joining IMU’s MPP programme allowed me to independently identify and solve pharmacotherapy care issues. The modules are designed in a way to empower students to take ownership of their own learning. Students are given all the necessary tools needed to take learning into their own hands, and do their own research and learning rather than relying solely on teaching materials by their lecturers. It arms the students with not only academic excellence but also soft skills that will help them in their careers.
The part-time course certainly helped me pursue excellence in clinical pharmacy as well as various research activities including published research in international peer-reviewed journals and presenting research outcomes at reputable local and international conferences. Joining the programme allowed me the honour of wearing multiple hats all at once: a wife, mother, student, and pharmacist. It’s the first tip of the iceberg towards my dream of becoming a well-equipped pharmacist, educator, and researcher.
“Pharmacists are the ‘face’ of medicine. We touch people’s lives every day by communicating with them about their medications.”
Written and reviewed by Dr Palanisamy and Dharrshinee