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In September’s edition of In the Spotlight, we are featuring Dr Grace Chang, Senior Clinical Pharmacist at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH).

In the spotlight is an initiative by PSS that features pharmacists who excel in their area of practice and have been role models for fellow pharmacists.

She graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Pharm.) (Hons) and subsequently pursued her Pharm.D., both in National University of Singapore (NUS). She also completed 1 year of PGY2 Residency Training in Cardiology. Grace started her first few years of work as part of the Outpatient Pharmacy team in Alexandra Hospital (AH). She started running the Cardiac Pharmacist Clinic (CPC) a few years later, looking after patients with coronary artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmias and who require cardiovascular risk factor management. Currently, her main responsibilities are the department leads for Clinical Governance and pharmacist-run Ambulatory Clinics. She runs a weekly session of CPC and is part of the team rotated to cover the Coronary Care Unit (CCU).

Grace is passionate about teaching and believes it is a way to give back after receiving valuable mentorship throughout her career. She is a preceptor for pre-registration pharmacists and Pharm.D. clerkship students for Ambulatory Care and Cardiology rotations and has lectured on Cardiology topics in the NUS Pharm.D. curriculum. She has given presentations at local and overseas conferences and has been invited to give continuing education lectures for Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore (PSS) and Singapore General Hospital-Postgraduate Allied Health Institute (SGH-PGAHI) courses. In 2018, she was honoured to receive the National Healthcare Group (NHG) Teaching Award for Pharmacy Senior Preceptors.

We are glad that Grace has taken the time to have an interview with us to share about her experience and what drives her passion in pharmacy.  

Describe the most satisfying/fulfilling day in your life as a pharmacist.

A fulfilling day at work would be one where I, or my colleagues, managed to touch the heart of a patient and had them tell us that they understand their medications better and appreciate the work we do.

Who would you say is your role model, who inspired you to excel in the pharmacy field that you chose?

Rather than having a single role model, I feel blessed with opportunities to learn from the many junior and senior pharmacists I have met over the years. A memorable part of my career was spent with 8 very outstanding pharmacists in the country – the preceptors during my clerkship year of the Pharm.D. programme. I got to see how they performed patient care duties while juggling their administrative and leadership responsibilities, and still had time and energy to impart to me not just clinical knowledge, but personalized advice on career progression and life in general.

The most influential senior in my career would have to be Dr Doreen Tan, whom I first met 14 years ago during my undergraduate hospital attachment. Though I did not quite understand our very first Cardiology topic discussion, her passion for teaching nonetheless left a deep impression. She inspires me with her determination in pursuing what she believes in, her dedication to our profession and specialty (Cardiology), her generosity in sharing and teaching anyone who is willing to learn, and many more.

What would your best advice be for the younger pharmacists, especially when faced with challenges to motivate them and keep them going?

Treat every patient as you would your own family member.

In daily work, there will be grey areas with no clear choice. This piece of advice helps to ensure we are on the right track with the patient’s best interests at heart. In addition, we often must choose between “what is right and what is easy” – some of you may know which best-selling literary work this is adapted from.  

There is something that can be learnt from everyone.

Do remember we can learn not only from peers and seniors, but others around us. Do resist the urge to only mix with Pharmacy colleagues as there are insights and perspectives from doctors, nurses, Allied Health and operations/administrative colleagues which are important too. If you have the opportunity, volunteer to be involved in cross-disciplinary projects or Integrated Practice Units (IPUs) – it is a humbling and eye-opening experience in being more grounded and balanced in your viewpoints when you realize we work best together not in silos but in an ecosystem where we each bring our expertise to the table. Do network with pharmacists in other institutions, as your current difficulty may have just been successfully tackled by another institution who has a great idea to share. Reflect often, and do not to forget to use judgement in your learning journey.  Lastly, you can learn from your patients too! When they share their medication-related difficulties, listen with empathy and you may realize something you have not thought of.

Stay adaptable and innovative.

The year of 2020 has been like no other and a challenge to long-established practices and workflows. Embracing change as the only constant, while staying open to new ways to connect with our patients (for instance, via teleconsult), will be an essential skill and mindset as we move forward.