March 8, 2016, by Editor
Tracey Thornley’s blog for International Women’s Day 2016
I remember being an A level student and pondering about whether to go to University to read Law, Biology, or Mathematics – I chose pharmacy because it combined all three and I thought that it would keep me interested whilst studying. Little did I know that it would lead me down this exciting and challenging career path!
Once I had decided to study to become a pharmacist, I started working for Boots UK as a Saturday girl on the pharmacy counter and undertook healthcare assistant training. I returned to the same store during my holidays at University, and received valuable life and practical experience from the dispensers, healthcare staff, and pharmacists within that pharmacy. I learnt what it was truly like to be part of the community and local healthcare professional network. Once graduated, I then managed a local pharmacy and following this, I moved to a field role where I became involved in developing networks and services with the local NHS teams. This led to my involvement in an innovative smoking cessation service which was being evaluated by the University of Nottingham, and sparked my interest in service development and research. I moved to a central role within Boots developing innovative services within community pharmacy, part of which involved conducting service evaluations.
I had always wanted to do a PhD, and in 2003 I got my chance as I managed to gain support from Boots UK to undertake one whilst working. I remember a Professor at the time telling me that it would take over not only my life, but also my husband’s for the next three years (especially as I was still working). He was right – it was hard work, but definitely worth it. My PhD looked at factors affecting service delivery in community pharmacy and was very relevant to the work I was doing at Boots. Not only was the subject interesting, but it also changed the way I approached my day job.
Since being awarded my PhD, I’ve been involved in supporting pharmacy contract frameworks within all UK markets, delivering outcomes and evidence of pharmacy services to support the future role of the pharmacist, and managing the research governance processes within Boots UK. I am also a member of the Community Pharmacy Future project team and am responsible for leading the work stream on conducting the health economic evaluation. I am currently a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) / Pharmacy Voice Research Advisory Group, as well as the RPS antimicrobial expert advisory group.
I was awarded an Honorary Professorship in pharmacy practice at the University of Nottingham during 2015 and I currently supervise two PhD students; one looking at the development of the pharmacist’s role in supporting cancer patients, and the other looking at evidence to support the pharmacist’s role in new models of care.
I’m a strong believer in professional development, and am currently studying for a Health Economics qualification at the University of York. It’s very relevant to my day job, and something that I’m very passionate about. In the current NHS climate, it’s going to be increasingly important to be able to demonstrate the value that community pharmacists can deliver in supporting both patients and the NHS agenda.
I’ve been surrounded by women role models in science throughout my career, who have inspired me and helped me in both my personal, and career development. There are many opportunities for both women and men within community pharmacy to help support patients, whether you are dealing with them directly, or helping to develop the role itself. It’s an exciting time for the profession.
Professor Tracey Thornley PhD MRPharmS FFRPS, Senior Manager Contract Frameworks and Outcomes for Boots UK.