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BPSA president Bella Shah: ‘The world is your oyster’

Bella Shah will officially become BPSA president on July 3

Pharmacy student and new BPSA president Bella Shah says it’s important that students grab the opportunities that knock at their door

British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) president Bella Shah first joined the association as a first-year pharmacy student. She quickly moved up the ladder, and was elected vice-chair last year.

Having been elected as the new BPSA president in April, she is taking the reins of the pharmacy students association from this weekend (July 3).

Supporting students

2020 was a particularly challenging year for pharmacy students, especially for those who were due to sit the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) registration assessment, which was postponed due to the pandemic.

On February 25, pre- and provisionally registered pharmacists were invited to book their assessment slot with Pearson VUE, a process some described as “chaotic”, while other said they could not secure a slot at a test centre near to them.

In response, the BPSA launched a support fund to help these candidates with travel and accommodation costs.

As BPSA vice-president during the pandemic, Ms Shah recalls that it was challenging to work with a team of 20 people who had never met in person, but says the group worked closely together and achieved “more than what we had initially set out to”.

Working in community pharmacy

Ms Shah’s work during the pandemic was not limited to BPSA-related tasks.

She put her pharmacy knowledge into practice while working in community pharmacy, advising patients and debunking some of the myths about COVID-19 that were being shared at the time.

During this experience, Ms Shah fell in love with community pharmacy, she tells C+D deputy news editor Valeria Fiore in a podcast.

She will be among the first pharmacy students completing the foundation training year over 2021/22 – as a trainee in community pharmacy, of course.

Listen to the podcast below to find out more about:

  • Top tips for pharmacy students wanting to apply for a BPSA executive role
  • Pharmacy students’ perception of community pharmacy
  • How Ms Shah juggles between being a student and her BPSA role

You can listen to the podcast below. Alternatively, follow C+D’s podcasts by searching “Chemist+Druggist podcast” on your preferred app or on Soundcloud

What would you like the BPSA to focus on this year?

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

BS as usual be studying law soon, they not going to say I hate and never of studied the crap course in the first place

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

“Falling in love with Community Pharmacy” is not a sentiment I have often heard expressed in a lifetime working in CP.  Most certainly never in the last decade.

I do wonder if Miss Shah’s feelings will be the same in a few years when she fully appreciates the reality of CP?

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Most are seeing the pay and conditions on offer and are gone by 35, at the latest.

Fast track medicine, IT, even our new Leader is moving over to a career in Law!

I know of a guy who did the degree, hated his placements, and didn't bother with the pre-reg, he went straight into a trainee IT job. 

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

I hate to discourage youthful enthusiasm, but will the oyster be served in a 'shoe' or a 'bank' ! ?

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