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From monitoring drug dosages to counselling, a clinical pharmacist talks about the challenges in her job

“Clinical pharmacists have a huge responsibility and have to do their tasks carefully to avoid complications,” she says

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Puja Pal, who pursued Bachelor of Pharmacy (B Pharm) from the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Apeejay Stya University (ASU), says she has always been fascinated by the processes that go into manufacturing medicines. The Apeejay alumna, who is working as a junior clinical pharmacist at Medanta Medcity Gurugram after graduating in 2022, tells us more about the risks and responsibilities that her job entails. Edited excerpts:

What got you interested in Pharmacology?

The study of Pharmacy is very interesting. You get to learn about how medicines are manufactured, right from how they are obtained to packaged. My interest developed when I was in school, which is why I decided to pursue the course.

Also Read: Apeejay alumna reveals how professors helped her bag a job at Bharat Serums 

What do you have to say about the overall experience at ASU?

It was a wonderful journey. Each of our faculty members was very supportive and encouraging — they guided us every step of the way. They made sure to give us a detailed understanding of concepts. They also counselled us about career choices.

Coming to the curriculum, it was designed to give us adequate exposure to hands-on learning. The department held various events where we learnt to build things from scratch. I particularly remember winning a prize for making handmade soap at a competition. Besides, we got a chance to explore and hone our skills in research by writing various papers.  

Tell us about a clinical pharmacist’s role.

A clinical pharmacist is involved in the overall supervision of how drugs are administered to a patient to prevent adverse drug reactions (ADR). They have to keep track of whether high-risk medicines are being correctly administered by the nurses. They also do medication counselling for patients. 

Another part of the job is to review prescriptions to ensure correct dosages and drugs have been advised. For instance, the dosage for paediatric patients should not be more than 50 mg; for adults, it can go above 100 mg although the guidelines are different for diabetic patients, depending on their blood sugar levels, or those with other comorbidities. 

Are there risks in the job?

There are plenty. The job involves multiple levels of scrutiny for the safety of the patients. Clinical pharmacists, therefore, have a huge responsibility and have to do their tasks carefully to avoid complications.

Tell us how you counsel patients.

This is done around the time of the hospital discharge, during which we need to explain to the patient why, how and when they should take their medicines, if prescribed for further recovery at home. Sometimes, there are international patients, who have to be explained through interpreters. Then there are also those who are illiterate, so we try our level best to explain the medication schedule verbally or by drawing symbols.

What are your future plans?

I would like to pursue a master’s degree in Pharmacology but for now, I am focusing on my work and would work hard to excel in the field.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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