What does a consultant neonatal pharmacist do?

Written by | 8 Jun 2024 | 'In Discussion With'

As Director of the Children’s Medicines Research and Innovation Centre (CMRIC) at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, Steve Tomlin now uses his experience of hands-on patient care to shape research and innovation in children’s  medicines.

Mr Tomlin – a consultant paediatric clinical pharmacist by trade – acknowledges that his skills in patient care are no longer being used at the bedside but “I think there’s also a time when you can see the bigger picture that needs sorting out and you …. think, ‘well, who’s going to [do it]’?” In fact, he is able to make use of his lifetime experience of paediatric medicine in his current role. “I hope I still understand what is happening at the bedside because of being part of a team, hearing their stories, getting involved if I need to.  … Yes –  my ‘hands-on’ [role] on an individual basis has been lost at the ward level”. However, his past experiences are now underpinning his efforts to change things for the better at a national level, he says.

A career in paediatric pharmacy?

In some ways “the only true pharmacy is paediatric pharmacy”  because it demands knowledge of chemistry,  pharmaceutics, the law and many other things including in- depth skill sets.  A career in paediatric pharmacy has much to recommend it but  “the one thing I would say to anybody coming through is not to rush”, says Mr Tomlin.  He himself worked in adult medicine and in mental health for a time. “I still look back on those [experiences] and I think the broader your background training is, the better. Have a bit of everything because then you can talk to everybody about different aspects. You don’t have to specialise immediately”.

Turning to paediatrics, he says, “There is something about the fact that they are a vulnerable population; there is something wonderful about being involved with children and carers and on the whole the multidisciplinary team for paediatrics are very friendly people”.

“I think that that would be my advice to anybody – make the most of every experience. The bit that I think defines whether you will be good ….. is having that questioning mind and it’s where I would advocate that research, education and practice are all part of the package.  …. So, it’s that all-rounded approach that I think is really important. Keep an inquiring mind throughout your career right from day one”, he says.

About Steve Tomlin

Steve Tomlin is Director of the Children’s Medicines Research and Innovation Centre (CMRIC) at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London. He is  also the professional lead of the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists’ Group (NPPG) and the vice-chair of the Joint Medicines Committee at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH)

The Children’s Medicines Research and Innovation Centre is concerned with advancing practice for children’s medicines both in terms of improving medicines themselves and improving the usage and effectiveness of medicines in practice.

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