A s a Pharmacist, Nicholas Lim’s role extends beyond merely dispensing medication over the counter. His critical tasks include ensuring that medication reconciliation processes are in place – a system of creating an accurate list of a patient’s current medications and comparing them against medication orders. Apart from this, he also reviews medication charts to optimise medication therapy, counsels patients on their medications upon discharge from hospital, and conducts clinical rounds with a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals. Clearly, his roles play a significant part in a patient’s journey towards recovery.
His roles are in line with his personal aspirations, which spell out contributions to society as well as improving public healthcare. Today, he shares how these humble aspirations were formed, and some advice for those who wish to join Eastern Health Alliance (EHA), a regional health system in the East.
What sparked your interest in the field of Healthcare?
Nicholas Lim: I had always wanted to contribute to society, and going into the field of public healthcare is a very direct way of doing so. My interests stemmed from the desire to improve the healthcare knowledge of others, so as to empower them to care not only for themselves but for their loved ones as well.
Nicholas Lim Jin Rui
Pharmacist, Changi General Hospital
Why did you choose Pharmacy in particular?
Nicholas: Medications and their use in disease treatment have always intrigued me. Also, what drew me towards Pharmacy was that the public still knows very little about this profession. Many patients know about the roles of doctors and nurses in the hospital, but few know that every single medication prescribed to them have been carefully reviewed by pharmacists, who ensure that the appropriate medications reach them. Pharmacists are stepping out of their traditional roles of dispensing and counselling to managing clinics. They are also now more involved in the clinical management of patients.
What are some challenges you face as a Pharmacist?
Nicholas: A challenge that pharmacists face occasionally is receiving interesting but difficult enquiries regarding novel drug therapies, and how to taper the use of a medication for a particular scenario or patient. These thought-provoking questions motivate me to stay up to date with current pharmacy practices, new drugs and guidelines.
Another challenge we often face is having to multi-task throughout the day. As a pharmacist needs to fulfil multiple daily duties, time-management becomes an important and essential skill to develop.
Share with us about some of the more memorable episodes you have had at work.
Nicholas: I remember an elderly patient whom I met while conducting medication reconciliation at the point of admission. In the subsequent days of his ward stay, we conversed and he shared some of his life stories with me. On the day of discharge, he and his family came to thank me personally before leaving the hospital. This acknowledgement, though simple, provided me with a great sense of satisfaction.
Tell us about the time you underwent your undergraduate internship.
Nicholas: I was given the chance to complete an internship at Changi General Hospital during the third year of my pharmacy studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS). It was an eye-opening experience that allowed me to apply the knowledge learnt in the classroom to real patient scenarios. It also affirmed my interest in the area of pharmacy, motivating me to strive harder.
You mentioned you did your pharmacy studies at NUS. Any reason why you chose NUS?
Nicholas: The four-year Pharmacy programme at NUS encompasses broad- based learning students for multiple paths, including industrial and clinical paths.
What can fresh graduates look forward to at EHA?
Nicholas: EHA places emphasis on the development of its employees, and provides opportunities for staff to upgrade themselves through further studies and courses. EHA is like a big family, and everyone within it has the common goal of providing the best for our patients.
What advice would you have for those exploring their scholarship options?
Nicholas: I believe it is important to keep an open mind and not be fixated on only one area of interest. It is also good to be an ‘informed scholar’ by conducting research and talking to people in the field you are interested in, so that you are aware of the nature of work before applying for a scholarship.