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Young Leader in Pharmacy Sherly Meilianti: "... it is essential for us to advocate for the inclusion of youth voices in any policymaking agenda."

Sherly cropped



BPharm (Indonesia), MSc (UK), FHEA (UK), PhD (UK)

Current role

FIP Data and Intelligence Specialist

GHWN Youth Hub Steering Committee 2019-present

FIP YPG President 2020

 What excites you about being a pharmacist?

For me, being a pharmacist is about opportunities to help people and society no matter where I work. As a pharmacist, we call ourselves medicine experts where we can work in a variety of practice sectors, from developing medicines to providing advanced pharmaceutical service to patients and society. The "Seven-star pharmacist" concept, introduced by the World Health Organization, highlights different roles that pharmacists must perform: caregiver, decision-maker, communicator, manager, lifelong learner, teacher, and leader. This concept inspired me, particularly related to the lifelong learner on how we as pharmacists have to advance our skills and knowledge to make a difference and to provide excellent care and services wherever we work.

When you graduated, what did you envision for your future?

After I graduated, I imagined becoming a well-known clinical pharmacist that other healthcare professionals would recognise. This was because back then, in a small village where I spent my childhood in Indonesia, society only knew nurses and doctors as their go-to professions when they were sick. They did not even recognise the pharmacy profession – pharmacists were only dispensers and drug sellers and not part of healthcare professions. But things have changed now; I am so proud of how the pharmacy profession has evolved and how community pharmacy has become the most accessible workforce for society now.

How has your career evolved since your graduation?

Since I wanted to be a clinical pharmacist, I tried to find a hospital job after graduating. However, getting a job in a hospital was not as easy as I thought. I got my first job in a pharmaceutical company as a product executive, for which I had to be an expert on products under my responsibility. I realised that I did not enjoy the job, so I quit after three months and started working in a private hospital after finally getting this job. I enjoyed my role in this private hospital until I got promoted to be the head of the pharmacy department, and I worked behind the desk more than I wanted to. This made me think we do not always get what we want, but there was always learning opportunity wherever we worked. As the head of the pharmacy department, I was able to advocate hospital management to initiate a clinical pharmacy service in the intensive care unit in the hospital. This motivated me to pursue my master's in clinical pharmacy at UCL School of Pharmacy.

It was not easy to finally have the opportunity to pursue this master's degree. I had been rejected for scholarship twice, and I have failed my IELTS exam twice. This led me to the insecurity of my competency in surviving the course. However, one thing that I learned from this failure experience was that: "a failure is not always a mistake; the real mistake is to stop trying."

After finishing my master's, I came back to the private hospital where I worked before. I was able to get experience working as a clinical pharmacist. However, I realised my passion for conducting research on the pharmacy workforce became stronger, particularly related to how I can support pharmacists in developing a flexible structured career pathway in the workplace to motivate them to provide better services to patients. That is why I decided to pursue my PhD on the topic of pharmacy workforce development at UCL School of Pharmacy.

I recently finished my PhD and am currently working as the Data and Intelligence Specialist of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). I figured that my passion now is more towards data and visualisation and how to utilise research to develop a needs-based policy recommendation to advance the pharmacy profession. I am excited to continue exploring these new skills and knowledge in this area.

How would you describe a great day at work?

A great day at work is when I can achieve what I expect/plan on that day and also when I have positive thinking if something does not go as I expected. Every day is a learning opportunity. The important thing is how we perceive what happens during the day and turn any unexpected thing towards a learning opportunity for us.

Was there an "aha" moment for you when you realised the impact of the difference you are making?

I self-assessed myself as someone who did not have much confidence in myself. This was changed when I studied for my master's at the UCL School of Pharmacy. I am an introverted person where I always prefer to be quiet in class, and during my master's, considering that I was not confident with my English, I tended not to talk or involve in the discussion in the class. However, I was surprised that my colleagues had awarded me as "The student my classmates would go to if they needed help with course work." I was also surprised when they also awarded me as "the happiest student." I had not expected this award since I felt that I was the quietest student in the class.

Another "aha" moment for me was when I was featured in the national pharmacy magazine as the front cover. I never imagined that with only a small intention to conduct a national study on the pharmacy workforce in Indonesia, I was recognised nationally, and my research has been featured in the national magazine. I am hopeful to see how my research will have an impact on the pharmacy profession in Indonesia.

One of my other "aha" moments was after I finished my PhD when some of my colleagues were interested to know more about my PhD topic so they would be able to do the same thing in their country. This was when I realised that my project could help other countries to advance their pharmacy workforce.  

If you can accomplish just one thing in your career, what would it be?

I would like to support and help other countries, particularly low and middle-income countries, to develop and advance their pharmacy workforce.

How are young leaders paving the way for changes in the pharmacy profession?

As early career pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists, I believe it is essential for us to advocate for the inclusion of youth voices in any policymaking agenda. I would like to encourage young leaders to be active in organisations either locally, nationally or globally. I am grateful that within FIP, we have the FIP YPG to support young leaders to take leadership roles in the organisation and get experience from being represented across FIP constituencies. 

What advice would you give to new pharmacy graduates?

Experience has shown me that passion, eagerness to learn and reflect, and networking are keys to success. When you have passion for something – no matter what happens – you will always have the strength to achieve what you want. Embrace new experiences and don't be hesitant to try anything new. Innovate and reflect on what you've done in the past so you can improve. In addition, be motivated by others all the time. I truly believe networking and connecting with people will guide you to find someone who can help you advance your career and make your pharmacy career becomes more enjoyable. FIP YPG or your national YPG could be a way to start your involvement. 






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