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Being a pharmacist with schizophrenia

An anonymous rotational pharmacist and PDA Ability Network member has shared their experience of working as a pharmacist with schizophrenia. In this article, they discuss the stigma attached to schizophrenia along with the challenges they have faced.

Mon 14th August 2023 The PDA

A few years ago, I wrote an article for the PDA newsletter about being a pharmacy student with schizophrenia. Since then I have graduated, sat the registration exam, and found a permanent job as a rotational pharmacist in a local hospital.

These milestones have not been easy and I have experienced increased symptoms, particularly around the run up to exams. There is also the stigma attached to schizophrenia which is still a poorly understood illness. Most of my colleagues are not aware of my diagnosis and have frequent conversations around psychiatric patients with sympathetic but sometimes judgemental attitudes towards patients who overdose and towards the risk of violence in people with mental health problems.

I have also encountered challenges related to GPhC registration with a drawn-out process surrounding initial registration. This involved letters and long waits from Occupational Health, my psychiatrist, and my employer. I was required to confirm that my health condition did not restrict or interrupt my working practice, or prevent me from undertaking regular tasks.

Things have become easier and work have been supportive, recently allowing me reduced hours to reduce stress and allow rest, which is important for my mental health, and a ‘safe space’ to go to when overwhelmed (mine is the chaplaincy and as yet I have not had to use this). I am looking forward to starting the clinical diploma next year and hope that in the future, the workplace will become even more open to pharmacists with disabilities and mental health conditions.

By an anonymous rotational pharmacist and PDA Ability Network member

The PDA Ability Network

The PDA Ability Network provides a safe space for members with disabilities and/or those living with mental health conditions to share their advice and experiences. The network’s mission is to enable all disabled pharmacists to realise their full potential and raise their profile by being educationally, socially, and politically active.

Pharmacists do not need to identify as having a disability in order to join the network, allies are also welcome. Membership is FREE to pharmacy students and trainee pharmacists.

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