Career opportunities as a pharmacist in Finland’s largest hospital pharmacy are broad
What is the work of a pharmacist like as part of patient care at an outpatient clinic? And what does a pharmacist do as a trainer and developer in HUS Pharmacy’s Apotti team? Nelli Kaasalainen and Milla Berg tell their career stories at HUS Pharmacy.
“The best thing about being a ward pharmacist is that I get to review a patient’s medication in a truly holistic way together with the physicians and nurses,” says Nelli Kaasalainen. She works as a ward pharmacist at HUS Pharmacy in several psychiatric outpatient clinics. Previously, these units have not had their own pharmacist at all, so the tasks have been shaped to suit Nelli’s way of working.
“As a pharmacist, I make medication evaluations at the physician’s request: together with the patient, I review that they do not have unnecessary overlap in their medication, consider potential combined effect of drugs, and ensure that the medication corresponds with their diagnoses. In specialist health care, the expertise of each professional is specialized, so my task is to look at the overall picture of the patient’s pharmacotherapy. The patient’s appreciation for this service is always equally rewarding.”
The many opportunities offered to a pharmacist in a hospital pharmacy create varying career path opportunities
In a hospital, the job description of a pharmacist may vary a lot depending on, for example, whether they are working on a surgical ward or a pediatric ward. This has also been noticed by pharmacist Milla Berg, who started at HUS Pharmacy as an internal deputy for ward pharmacists a few years ago.
“As a substitute worker, I familiarized myself with the practices on two inpatient wards, the day hospital, the Meilahti emergency department, and even the coronavirus ward. At that time, my duties included the handling and preparation of medication as well as preparing them for administration. I wasn’t familiar with the hospital world before, so I learned a lot more about pharmacy at the hospital.”
In her new role in HUS Pharmacy’s Apotti team, Milla now trains other pharmacists, solves problems together with them, and takes development needs forward. The aim is to improve medication safety.
“One of my fondest memories is when I got to work as a support person for the wards during the implementation of Apotti. A couple of weeks went by like in a bubble, where everyone got to know each other and collaborated on a joint project. Helping and solving problems brings me a lot of meaningfulness in my work.”
Further training for pharmacists alongside their work brings more skills in their work
Because pharmacists have so many different tasks at HUS Pharmacy, additional training alongside work is supported. Nelli has been able to utilize the lessons learned in the “Assessment of Pharmacotherapy” additional training in her own work as a ward pharmacist and has participated in the implementation of HUS Pharmacy’s internal training herself. There is still plenty of enthusiasm for learning: now, alongside her work, Nelli is completing specialization studies in Community Pharmacy and Hospital Pharmacy at the University of Helsinki. Milla, on the other hand, plans to apply for HUS Pharmacy’s internal “Assessment of Pharmacotherapy” training, which can be completed flexibly alongside other work.
What about future career aspirations?
“This is truly very close to being my dream job. I want to continue the rewarding encounters with patients as well as the development and training work. I hope that through my work I can be involved in creating a new kind of pharmacy,” Nelli says.
What is HUS Pharmacy?
Our more than 400 pharmaceutical professionals provide high-quality and safe pharmaceutical services and clinical pharmacy services for the benefit of our patients. The range of tasks in hospital pharmacy is very broad. Pharmacists work, for example, in the preparation and delivery of medicines, on the wards, outpatient clinics, and community pharmacies supplying medication to patients for communicable diseases.