Where Are You Now?

Emma Boxer

Emma Boxer

MPharm Pharmacy 2018

Emma Boxer graduated from the University of Sunderland in 2018 with a degree in Pharmacy, before spending her pre-registration placement at Burdon’s in Whickham, Gateshead and working as an academic tutor at the University. She is now lead pharmacist at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust outpatients’ department, her dream job.

Emma began her new role in April 2020, at a time when health workers across the UK were under severe pressures as they tackle the coronavirus.

Emma believes it was the opportunities and skills she developed during her year as an academic pre-registration pharmacist, spending her week split between a community pharmacy, Burdons in Whickham, Gateshead, and working as an academic tutor in the University of Sunderland’s Sciences Complex that helped her land the role of lead pharmacist at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust outpatients’ department.

But it was also her work transforming people’s perceptions of dementia and helping to improve patient care of the condition which earned her huge plaudits and even led to her being named a Dementia Friends Champion of the Year finalist and runner-up in the national Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Awards last year.

“This job really is a dream come true, I always hoped to eventually move into hospital pharmacy,” says Emma, “The skills I developed during my pre-registration year at Sunderland ticked all the boxes when I applied for this job. The new role will involve lots of different elements, including being the point of contact for the pharmacy superintendent, delivering clinical services for outpatients and delivering staff training.”

Emma will continue her engagement work as a Dementia Friend and keep her links with the University of Sunderland by delivering regular Dementia Friends’ sessions to undergraduate pharmacy students.

The Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.

Emma carried out research at Sunderland which found that targeting healthcare students before they enter professional practice could be the key to increasing high-quality care and greater understanding for dementia patients.

Emma’s research was prompted after becoming a Dementia Friends Champion herself and hosting a series of successful awareness presentations on campus to pharmacy, public health, adult nursing and mental health nursing students. Following the session she asked students to complete a survey to find out if their knowledge and understanding of dementia has improved and whether they felt it would benefit them and their patients when moving into practice.

Speaking earlier about her research, Emma said: “The results of my work were certainly enlightening and highlighted a significant increase in students’ knowledge surrounding dementia after the session. We concluded that Dementia Friends training has a place and improves knowledge across a range of healthcare courses. The results demonstrate that education could be used to improve dementia-friendly healthcare professionals. This also shows the importance and success of the Dementia Friends session, as in only a short time period there was such a significant change in student knowledge.”

Andrew Sturrock, Principal Lecturer and Programme Leader of MPharm, said: “Emma has been a fantastic role model to all of the healthcare students at the University, and we are delighted that she has landed this role at Sunderland Royal Hospital, and has been recognised for all her achievements. We look forward to continuing to work with her and support the Dementia Friends initiative further.”

He added: “Emma has worked hard to enhance the teaching of dementia across a range of healthcare programmes at the University, helping to prepare students to think about dementia differently and preparing them to enter professional practice.”

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