March 9, 2015, by Editor
Li-Chia Chen’s blog for International Women’s Day
My journey to become an academic reflects a global trend in the evolution of the pharmacy profession. I was trained as a hospital pharmacist in Taiwan. When I attended the undergraduate pharmacy programme, I was always taught that ‘clinical pharmacy’ is the future of the pharmacy profession. After I graduated, I practised as a dispensing pharmacist in a huge medical centre and I realised that a routine dispensing job was not for me. Therefore, I took several exams and succeeded in joining a prestigious pioneering clinical pharmacy programme.
During my masters programme, I was trained as a hospital clinical pharmacist. Except for clinical procedures, I was expected to be as good as a year-three resident physician in the knowledge and skills of therapeutics and pharmacotherapy. However, I was most fascinated by the modules and research project which I took during the masters programme, in particular, the pharmacoepidemiology. I feel it is a pharmacist’s responsibility to ensure the patients’ safety and their appropriate use of medicines, and the training in study design really inspired me to resolve clinical problems using scientific methods. At the time, I really believed that ‘pharmacoepidemiology’ was the future of the pharmacy profession.
However, after I went though various practice positions, as a clinical pharmacist, a principle clinical pharmacist and then finally Director of a hospital pharmacy, I realised that to be effective, pharmacists needed to be involved in the budget decision-making process, which wasn’t the case in my hospital. Therefore, I decided to learn pharmacoeconomics to prove the cost-effectiveness of pharmacists’ services. I was lucky to get the Taiwan government’s funding to do a PhD in health economics at the University of Manchester. At that time, I felt the future of pharmacy lay in ‘health economy’ and ‘social science’ (e.g. decision science).
Being an academic specialising in evidence-based medicine, pharmacoepidemiology and health economy, I often get invited to talk about how to conduct studies, criticise and synthesize data in order to inform health care decision-making. Currently my research is mostly involved in large database analysis. In the era of advancing informatics development, I feel that the future of pharmacy is entwined with ‘pharmaco-informatics’.
Looking back over my career journey, I feel all my experiences and training evolved alongside the global trend in the evolution of the pharmacy profession. I have been happy to witness this change and to be part of this development. I hope that my various experiences and knowledge will be of use to the next generation of pharmacists. To establish an infrastructure platform for the next generation is my career aspiration and I am still working on it.
Dr Li-Chia Chen a is hospital pharmacist with expertise in pharmacoepidemiology, drug utilisation research and health economics. She is a lecturer in the Division of Socia Research in Medicines and Health in the School of Pharmacy.