Chrissy, Pharmacy



I am currently writing up my PhD - I submit in March 2017. My work is based in Pharmacy but my background is in Psychology. The topic I’m looking at is why people intentionally go against procedures in community pharmacies, and how safety is maintained in practice in complex situations where there are lots of workload pressures and procedures to follow. Mainly, I’ve been doing qualitative work, so I’ve been involved with over 50 focus groups, I’ve also done 24 one on one interviews with pharmacists and support staff and then I have also done questionnaires - which is the bane of my life, honestly, I sent out over 8,000 questionnaires and got 256 back so far, but I think that’s mainly because of the sensitive topic. So, I’m trying to unpick their behaviour, so what their motivation is to go against procedures and then I ask them how often that happens and I think that it’s the how often part that is putting people off really because there is a risk of prosecution in Pharmacy. The interviews were so good though, they were so open about [their experiences]; I couldn’t believe how open they were about it. Overall, I think, my massive aim in life if possible - is to help people, and that’s why I went into Psychology, I want someone’s life to be better because I’m in it, so I would love to continue lecturing because there is no better feeling than seeing someone you’ve taught doing well. But then on the other side I love research because I feel like what I’m talking about is a really important topic that no one else is talking about, so I do love research too…I see the problems in my research like a massive knot in my head that I unpick for hours and hours and then you get that light bulb moment and you’re like, that’s what I’m trying to say! I wouldn’t give that [feeling] up for the world, there’s no feeling like that either.


I’m proud of being here - being in Manchester is just so cool for me, I have wanted to be here ever since I was a little girl. My mum was in uni here and she graduated with me in her tummy so that was really cool, and then she’d bring me here when I was little and I just never doubted that I’d go to University. Someone once described me as very Manchester in my thinking, and I literally started crying, they were “like you’re very Manchester, you try and push things forward to think a little bit outside of where everyone is coming from things and that’s what Manchester is like”, I said, you don’t even know how much that means to me. My little brother and sister, who are 12 and 11, are really excited to come to graduation. They get upset that I work a lot, but they say that you work so hard and it’s really good, so I hope I inspire them. I’m also proud that I will just say things like they are, but not in a nasty way though. I will be honest about what I’m struggling with, or if I need support and I think that’s sometimes seen as a weakness, it can feel like you shouldn’t say how you feel and things, but I actually think that’s how you build relationships and how you get genuine support. I think being honest about how I feel, being positive about how things are going to work out, feeling confident that even if things don’t work out the way I had planned, they’ll work out because I’ll make them, and I don’t know… I guess there’s just something inside of me that’s like, you’re going to do this, you’ll do this! I might get knocked back, but one of my strengths is being able to see that that doesn’t necessarily say anything about me, I know myself.


Throughout education I’ve struggled with self-confidence and seeming like a fraud, which I now know is imposter syndrome. A-Levels, stress wise, were the worst time of my life. I used to sit and cry , I’d have pictures of Manchester Uni across my room with the grades that I needed to get, and I used to be like, I’m not getting in, I won’t get in. And now I’ve done my undergrad, my masters and my PhD here and sometimes, I still feel that I’m not good enough, but at what stage is this going to stop? Genuinely, [it’s] probably never [going to stop], but it’s just about saying no to that voice that’s like ‘maybe you can’t do it’ – well maybe I can’t, but I’m going to try. I read a book called ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ and literally, that is my motto now, and I just go for it. You know the whole thing about the idea of being scared, what you are actually scared of isn’t actually the task at hand, it’s the fear that comes from that, it’s literally feeling like you’re going to die of embarrassment - but actually saying ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, means that whatever happens I will handle it in some way or another – and that [mentality] has changed my life.


I started meditating just over a year ago – and it totally changed my life, I recommended it to everyone because the most important thing I found with meditation is that thoughts are just thoughts, they are not facts. You kind of sit and observe your thoughts, and see that they don’t mean anything - yet people judge their life on it and they’re like if I’m not my thoughts then what am I? But that’s very dangerous because if you listen to a thought that’s self-doubt, it will snowball and you’ll just feel more thoughts of self-doubt and you’ll fulfil the prophecy of ‘well I’m not good enough’ or you won’t actually try and change that thought and say, ‘maybe you can’t do it, but what if you can?’. I’ll have these thoughts that will come into my head and I’m writing up and I’m so stressed and I was like, what if I thought instead that, this is so exciting, this is so exciting - I’ve nearly finished, yes I’ve got work to do, but how exciting! It’s just about challenging the idea that you should be stressed and thinking certain thoughts, and challenging that you shouldn’t be doing STEM because you’re a girl. Well, why not? What’s the opposite kind of thought and what would happen if you had that thought? But yeah, meditation, I wish I had done that when I was younger because I think that would have helped with self-doubt. You can’t control your thoughts but you can control what you do and you know, thoughts do have a role to play in what you do, so you have nothing to lose by thinking the best, thinking what would happen if I enjoyed my write up period, what would happen if I did get this doctorate, if I did apply to be a professor in the future. I almost feel like a fraud saying this because it’s so different to how I used to be, but the PhD has really changed my thinking, you’ve got nothing to lose by being positive, but potentially everything to lose by being negative because it could stop you from trying, and that’s the worst thing.


I think that people just need to do what people want to do; you need to live your life for yourself. Living your life for the decisions of others is ultimately, well, those people don’t have to live with it 24/7 and it’s just no way to live. I can appreciate it can be really difficult sometimes to go against the grain, but if you are justified in doing it, and it’s not reckless or dangerous, and it’s going to advance your life and your happiness, then yeah why would you not go for it? I would say, don’t do it because you think you have to, because that won’t work. Things only work if you are passionate about it - if you’ve got a real passion for working in STEM - and someone said that that’s a bit different, or you can’t do it because you’re a girl – just think ‘well yeah I am, yeah I am, so what, watch me do it’. I would never advise someone to do something just to prove someone wrong, I’d say do it to prove yourself right. You need to live an authentic life to yourself and I think when things are right for you, it flows, like you know, you get that gut feeling that this is what you’re supposed to be.

To find out more about Chrissy, follow her on Twitter and see her published work here.
Chrissy also runs an inspiring blog called Making it Mindful, check out the blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more. 

Rhys Archer