The ECP researcher

Dr Jack Collins MPS is an early career pharmacist who won an international grant 3 years ago, and values sharing research with his now global network of pharmacists.

Dr Jack Collins MPS is an early career pharmacist who won an international grant 3 years ago, and values sharing research with his now global network of pharmacists.

Why pharmacy?

I knew I wanted a career in health early on. I enjoyed chemistry at school and a trip to the pharmacy when I was sick about 16 sparked my interest in medicines and the role of a pharmacist in the healthcare team. I grew up on a property near Port Macquarie on the NSW mid-North Coast, so everyone knew the local pharmacist and their team.

Has your whole pharmacy education been at the University of Sydney?

I started my BPharm at the University of Sydney in 2012 and haven’t left since! I completed intern training through the University of Sydney and then returned to do my PhD in 2017. However, I did manage to sneak away for a short stint at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom during my PhD. It was the passionate and enthusiastic people at the University of Sydney that kept me coming back.

What work experience have you had aside from academe, and which is best?

I started working in community pharmacy during my BPharm and decided to complete my intern year at the same pharmacy where I continue to work on weekends. I really enjoy the ability to work in both academia and on the frontline. Working in community keeps my practice up to date and my research grounded in practice and the ‘real world’. It’s always so rewarding to have those interactions with patients where you feel like you’ve made a difference and they genuinely show their appreciation for what you do.

What is the value of attending International Pharmaceutical Federation conferences?

The 2019 FIP World Congress in Abu Dhabi was my third time at FIP and I was fortunate enough to attend after winning the 2018 Young Pharmacists Grant for Professional Innovation.

‘Working in community keeps my practice up to date and my research grounded in practice and the “real world”.’

Heading overseas to destinations like Seoul and Glasgow also meant I was able to squeeze in a little sightseeing and a UK research visit. The congresses are a great opportunity to connect, form a network with hundreds of pharmacists from around the world, share research and get up to date on the latest developments in practice and pharmaceutical science. I hope to see more ECPs in Seville in 2022 (fingers crossed!).

Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?

I don’t have a definite answer to this and that is what I like about where I am right now! As ECPs we have so many new opportunities coming up as practice evolves and the range of roles pharmacists can play expands.

Why do a PhD and where can it lead?

I really enjoyed my Honours research project during my final year of BPharm and had great supervisors that encouraged me to come back and do a PhD. A lot of skills we use in practice on a daily basis, like problem solving and critical thinking, transfer well to a research environment.

It’s also rewarding to have the opportunity for your research to influence and change practice. A pharmacy background and a PhD open so many doors for the next step in your career. A PhD can help you get your foot in the door into a career in research, pharmacy education, policy, industry, and so many other pathways!

What is your advice to ECPs?

As ECPs we have the chance to shape our careers into what we would like them to be. Even during the short span of my career so far, there have been so many changes and new opportunities for pharmacists. Find something that you enjoy and are interested in and investigate how you can integrate that into your work. Take any opportunities that are presented to you and make sure you connect with other pharmacists to see what opportunities are out there.

Finally, don’t forget about work-life balance! We know during the pandemic we’ve been feeling burnt out, so make sure you take the time to do things you enjoy. I took a weekend off to do an advanced scuba course a couple of months ago and it was so rejuvenating to just switch off and do something I really enjoy!

DAY IN THE LIFE of Dr Jack Collins BPharm PhD, MPS, pharmacy researcher, University of Sydney

9.00 am – Plan the day

After a brief walk across the beautiful University of Sydney campus, arrive in the office, check my calendar, catch-up with emails, plan what’s happening and make today’s to-do list.

10.00 am – Time for class

While teaching pharmacy students, I’ve also set up the new pharmacology program for Doctor of Dental Medicine students. In a tutorial on drug information sources, drug selection, and monitoring we’re learning about prescribing antibiotics for endocarditis prophylaxis and using case studies to practice monitoring for oral adverse effects from drugs such as dysgeusia from metronidazole.

11.30 am – Research seminar

Join a seminar on global epidemiology of STIs in people using PrEP (it is higher in them) and highlight the need to screen for, treat and educate about STIs in this underserved population.

2.00 pm – Research meeting
Time to catch up with colleagues at USyd and Griffith University on Zoom. We have a group discussion on individual research progress and recent work, and discuss progress on recruited participants and upcoming site visit planning to participating pharmacies. We also discuss upcoming research papers to write and conferences where we can share some of our findings.

3.00 pm – Research trial work

Today’s tasks include touching base via phone with participating pharmacists to gauge how they are progressing with their consumers taking part in a trial and to hear about some of their experiences. This is followed by data analysis and squeezing in writing time for a research paper.

5.00 pm – Home time

Wrap up any tasks and create a list for follow up tomorrow. Quick walk across campus jumping on the bus or a stroll through vibrant (inner city) Newtown back home.

6.00 pm – Homework

There’s not homework every day, but sometimes I have to do a little extra! I peer review a research paper for a journal and review a draft of an honours student’s work. Then it’s time to switch off and cook.

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