Young Pharmacy Leader Sherly Meilianti: “…it is essential for us to advocate for the inclusion of youth voices in any policy development agenda.”

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Education

BPharm (Indonesia), MSc (UK), FHEA (UK), PhD (UK)

Current role

FIP Data and Intelligence Specialist

GHWN Youth Hub Steering Committee 2019-present

FIP YPG President 2020

What excites you about being a pharmacist?

For me, being a pharmacist means having the opportunity to help people and society, no matter where I work. As a pharmacist, we call ourselves experts in medicine where we can work in a variety of practice areas, from drug development to providing advanced pharmaceutical services to patients and society. The concept of “seven-star pharmacist”, introduced by the World Health Organization, highlights different roles that pharmacists must fulfill: carer, decision maker, communicator, manager, lifelong learner, teacher and leader. This concept has inspired me, especially in relation to the lifelong learner, on how we pharmacists need to advance our skills and knowledge to make a difference and provide excellent care. and services everywhere we work.

After graduation, what did you imagine for your future?

After graduating, I envisioned becoming a recognized clinical pharmacist recognized by other healthcare professionals. That’s because back then, in a small village where I grew up in Indonesia, society only knew of nurses and doctors as their preferred professions when they were sick. They didn’t even recognize the profession of pharmacist – pharmacists were only dispensers and sellers of medicines and were not part of the health professions. But things have changed now; I am so proud of how the pharmacy profession has evolved and how community pharmacy has become the most accessible workforce for society today.

How has your career evolved since graduating?

As I wanted to be a clinical pharmacist, I tried to find a job in the hospital after graduating. However, finding a job in a hospital was not as easy as I thought. I got my first job in a pharmaceutical laboratory as product manager, for which I had to be an expert on the products under my responsibility. I realized that I didn’t like the job, so I quit after three months and started working in a private hospital after finally getting this job. I enjoyed my role at this private hospital until I was promoted to head of the pharmacy department, and worked behind the desk more than I wanted to. It made me think that we don’t always get what we want, but there were always learning opportunities everywhere we worked. As head of the pharmacy service, I was able to plead with the hospital management to initiate a clinical pharmacy service in the hospital’s intensive care unit. This motivated me to pursue my Masters in Clinical Pharmacy at UCL School of Pharmacy.

It was not easy to finally have the opportunity to pursue this master’s degree. I was twice rejected for a scholarship and failed my IELTS exam twice. This led me to insecurity about my ability to survive the course. However, one thing I learned from this experience of failure is that: a failure is not always a mistake; the real mistake is to stop trying.”

After completing my master’s degree, I returned to the private hospital where I previously worked. I was able to gain experience as a clinical pharmacist. However, I have realized that my passion for pharmacy workforce research has grown stronger, especially in terms of how I can help pharmacists develop a flexible and structured career path in the workplace to motivate them to provide better services to patients. This is why I decided to pursue my PhD on the topic of Pharmacy Workforce Development at UCL School of Pharmacy.

I recently completed my PhD and am currently working as a Data and Intelligence Specialist for the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). I thought my passion was now more about data and visualization and how to use research to develop a needs-based policy recommendation to advance the pharmacy profession. I am excited to continue to explore these new skills and knowledge in this area.

How would you describe a nice day at work?

A good day at work is when I can achieve what I expect/plan for that day and also when I have a positive thought if something doesn’t go as planned. Every day is a learning opportunity. What matters is how we perceive what is happening during the day and turn anything unexpected into a learning opportunity for us.

Was there an “aha” moment for you when you realized the impact of the difference you are making?

I self-assessed as someone who didn’t have much confidence in myself. This changed when I studied for my Masters at UCL School of Pharmacy. I am an introverted person where I always prefer to be calm in class, and during my masters, considering that I was not comfortable with my English, I tended not to speak or get involved in discussion in class. However, I was surprised that my colleagues rewarded me as “the student my classmates would go to if they needed help with their coursework.” I was also surprised when they also awarded me as “the happiest student”. I was not expecting this price as I felt I was the quietest student in the class.

Another “aha” moment for me was when I was featured on the cover of National Pharmacy magazine. I never imagined that with only a small intention to conduct a nationwide pharmaceutical workforce study in Indonesia, I was nationally recognized and my research was featured in the national magazine. I am hopeful to see how my research will impact the pharmacy profession in Indonesia.

One of my other “aha” moments was after I finished my PhD, when some of my colleagues wanted to know more about my PhD topic so they could do the same in their country. It was then that I realized that my project could help other countries advance their pharmacy workforce.

If you could accomplish one thing in your career, what would it be?

I would like to support and help other countries, especially low and middle income countries, to develop and advance their pharmaceutical workforce.

How do young leaders pave the way for change in the pharmacy profession?

As early career pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists, I believe it is critical for us to advocate for the inclusion of youth voices in any policy development agenda. I would like to encourage young leaders to be active in local, national or global organizations. I am grateful that within the FIP we have the FIP YPG to support young leaders to take on leadership roles in the organization and gain experience being represented in the FIP constituencies.

What advice would you give to new pharmacy graduates?

Experience has shown me that passion, a desire to learn and reflect, and networking are the keys to success. when you have passion for something – no matter what – you will always have the strength to achieve what you want. To kiss new experiences and feel free to try something new. Innovate and reflect about what you have done in the past so that you can improve. Besides, Be motivated by others all the time. I sincerely believe that networking and connecting with people will guide you in finding someone who can help advance your career and make your pharmacy career more enjoyable. FIP YPG or your national YPG could be a way to start your involvement.