What I’ve Learnt: Emma Boxer

June 1, 2020

Emma Boxer is the new lead pharmacist of the CHoICE outpatient pharmacy department at Sunderland Royal Hospital. In her short time as a pharmacist, she has undertaken research, made more than 400 dementia friends as a dementia champion, and been nominated for multiple national awards. She began her career as a community pharmacist, but is now moving into hospital to take on a more leading role

One of the first and most important lessons I learned in my career was courtesy of my first boss when I qualified as a pharmacist. After an emotional self-questioning of my abilities, he told me that when we make a mistake, it isn’t the mistake itself that’s important, it’s about how we handle the mistake we’ve made. This resonated with me deeply and has since impacted everything I do.

We are all human and we will all make mistakes, but the important thing is to be honest, do all we can to make it right and, most importantly, learn from it. A mistake is a chance for reflection and a chance to grow, whether this be in business or any other aspect of our lives.

I am still learning and developing my skills at having a more operational lead capacity, but this is something I am becoming more familiar with as lead pharmacist. As well as being honest and upfront about mistakes or mis-steps, to successfully run any kind of operation I believe you need to understand all aspects of the said operation; nothing should be ‘someone else’s job’. If you know all aspects of what is required at every step of the way, you are not only in a perfect position to run it well, and to delegate tasks, but you will have the oversight to notice if things aren’t going right and why.

Having more of a leading role was something that drew me to apply for CHoICE at Sunderland. The prospect of being able to innovate and create impact is something I have always wanted out of my career. However, beginning a new role is always a nerve-racking experience, even without a public health pandemic, so the feeling of starting with CHoICE at the trust was a mixture of excitement and nervous apprehension.

From day one I have loved every minute of joining the team. The staff around me have been nothing but supportive and it has been a fantastic opportunity to be part of the effort to keep patients safe during this time. The trust and CHoICE have also been fantastic at adapting to the situation, which has made transitioning into the role at this time easier, whether it be organising home delivery services, having ring when ready procedures put in place or even just keeping patients updated and informed. The preparedness of the trust, CHoICE and the staff has kept an organised calm among the pandemic panic.

It is an interesting time to be in healthcare. It is a career I’ve always known I wanted to be a part of. It has surprised me from day one how different every role is and the amazing work that everyone in the healthcare sector does every day.

My role has changed in major ways since moving from my original post in community to CHoICE at Sunderland Royal, which has highlighted how versatile we must be within the profession. All aspects of the sector are challenging, just in different ways. In particular, I am enjoying how clinical the role is here and how varied the work is day-to-day.

I am lucky that Sunderland Hospital and CHoICE have a whole host of talented and knowledgeable staff who I can turn to for help for any issue that may arise. In particular, our dispensary manager and superintendent pharmacist are vastly experienced and have been vital in helping me adjust to my new role. Overall, from my limited experience so far, I believe the secret to being successful is loving what you do. When your work is your passion, it can only bring about good things.

Emma Boxer


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