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UA Alumni: Saira Khan

Saira was a Highly Commended Entrant in the Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences category in 2015.

In 2016 she graduated with a Master’s Degree in Pharmacy from King’s College London and has since gone on to qualify as a pharmacist.

What are you doing now and what has happened since the award?

After the award, I went on to complete my final year with a segment at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, and graduated from King’s College. I qualified as a pharmacist and worked across a range of different healthcare settings.

I’ve always pushed myself and I feel being highly commended at the Undergraduate Awards reinforced never to fear a challenge. It made me feel that with a lot of hard work and determination, you can be capable of anything that you put your mind to, so I didn’t stop at just qualifying as a pharmacist.

I now manage my own community pharmacy and work as the pharmacist there, providing healthcare and support to patients. I also work as the primary care network pharmacy lead for my area, which involves engaging with other pharmacies and healthcare providers to try and reach better health outcomes for the region. And in between managing a pharmacy, working as a pharmacist, and as a primary care network lead, I enjoy researching and writing educational health content for the media pharmacist and channel ‘Abraham the Pharmacist’.

It’s sometimes challenging to wear so many hats, but I enjoy everything I do, and I think that makes it worth it.

What do you like the most about what you do?

I enjoy working with people, and I enjoy seeing the difference I can make. Knowing that I’m helping others to live longer, healthier and better-quality lives is really rewarding. When I’ve had patients come back to me to thank me for catching their cancer early, for helping their mother get early diagnosis and treatment for dementia or for being the first port of call during a heart attack, it highlights the crucial role that pharmacists play.

I’ve always taken great pride in being a pharmacist, but this was even more the case after coronavirus broke out. Community pharmacy became part of the frontline, and the profession had never been more important. I led my team, patients, and the community through such a difficult time, and I was grateful for all the training and experience I had ever received that allowed me to do that.

Has receiving an award for your hard work helped?

Receiving the award has helped in so many ways, I don’t even know where to start. It helped boost my confidence and let me know I was on the right track. It inspired me to work harder and keep challenging myself. And that’s not to mention everything I learnt from attending the summit and meeting all the different people and talent there.

It was also at the awards ceremony that I met a Times Higher Education journalist offering whether I would like to write a student perspective segment for the Times Higher Education Website. I love writing so this was a dream opportunity for me. I took the offer up and I’m so grateful for this chance that I may not have had if my work hadn’t been highly commended at the Global Undergraduate Awards that year.

As well as my main healthcare role, I still write today by writing educational content for the media pharmacist and channel ‘Abraham the Pharmacist’. By writing for the Times Higher Education, I gained experience and skills that I apply in my new role all the time. In short, a lot goes back to the Undergraduate Awards. It set an exciting trajectory for me.

Why should students submit their work?

You get the chance for your work to be judged by international leaders in their field against top entries from around the world - how amazing is that? And if your work is recognised or commended it could open so many doors for you, so definitely submit your research. You never know what great things it could lead on to.