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The Pharmacist Lawyer: Bridging the Gap for Better Healthcare – Thorrun Govind – S7E11

Pharmacy and law are two fields that might not seem like they have much in common at first glance. But this individual defies conventional expectations by seamlessly merging two distinct professional worlds — pharmacy and law.

This week we’re super excited to be chatting with Thorrun Govind, a highly accomplished pharmacist and solicitor advocate in civil law. Thorrun’s unique journey highlights the intriguing intersection of healthcare and legal expertise, demonstrating that the boundaries of traditional career paths can be fluid and dynamic.

On the surface, pharmacy and law may seem like unrelated domains, each with its own set of specialized skills and knowledge. However, Thorrun’s story challenges this notion as she effortlessly navigates these two seemingly disparate fields, bringing together her passion for both healthcare and legal advocacy.

Join us as we unravel the unexpected synergies between pharmacy and law through the inspiring journey of Thorrun Govind. Discover how her unique blend of expertise is transforming the way we perceive the intersections of healthcare and legal realms, and gain valuable insights into the power of combining diverse professional backgrounds for greater impact and innovation.

𝐒𝐨, 𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧?

You can catch Rob and Thorrun Govind talking about:

  • Her journey from studying pharmacy to pursuing law.
  • Her experience in healthcare advisory law particularly in the area of inquests.
  • The challenges faced by community pharmacies and the need for a cross-party approach to healthcare.
  • How to get media attention, the importance of networking, and the need to focus on getting your message across in the limited time available.
  • … And her advice to those aspiring solicitors who are interested in healthcare law.

Transcript

00:08 Rob Hanna:

Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast. You are listening to Season 7 of the show. I’m your host Rob Hanna. This week I’m delighted to be joined by the wonderful Thorrun Govind. Thorrun is a Healthcare Advisory and Inquest Lawyer. Thorrun is also a Registered Pharmacist, having completed her Masters in Pharmacy at King’s College London. She has over a decade of experience in healthcare. Thorrun is the youngest elected Board Member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. She was elected as the Chair of the English Pharmacy Board in 2021, becoming the youngest official to hold the position. Thorrun has appeared on the BBC Newsnight, Sky News, BBC, BBC Radio One and This Morning and many, many more commenting on all things healthcare. Thorrun also won the Young Pharmacist of the Year Award by the Pharmacy Business Magazine in 2018 and was featured on the North Power Women Future List in 2019. So, a very, very warm welcome Thorrun.

01:09 Thorrun Govind: 

Good to be here Rob. I’m looking forward to it.

01:10 Rob Hanna: 

Oh, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. And before we dive into all your amazing projects, experiences and the amazing work you do to help so many people, we do have a customary icebreaker question here, on the Legally Speaking Podcast, which is, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being very real, what would you rate the hit TV series Suits in terms of its reality?

01:32 Thorrun Govind: 

Aside from the conflicts of interest, the lawyers not actually being qualified lawyers, completely a 10 Rob, completely a 10.

01:42 Rob Hanna: 

And with that, I can only agree with you and we’ll move swiftly on to talk all about you. So, to begin with, would you mind telling our listeners a bit about your background and career journey?

01:54 Thorrun Govind: 

So I qualified as a pharmacist. I studied at King’s College London. I’ve always had an interest in the media. So, whilst I was at school, studying for my A-Levels, I was also involved with the community radio station. I always wanted to be a TV presenter, a Blue Peter presenter, specifically. I think when I was younger, and I went on to news around Downing Street and went to be a press packer. I don’t know if anyone remembers that. But that was the sort of the pinnacle of my younger career as a journalist, I would say, and since then, I qualified as a pharmacist, and then I qualified as a solicitor, and did my higher rights as well. So strictly speaking, solicitor advocate in civil law, and yeah, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind a couple of years. I do a lot of media work. And I like to get out and support other members of our profession, whether that be now in the legal forum or also in pharmacy.

02:49 Rob Hanna:

Yeah. And you do a tremendous job. And, yeah, I mean, the amount of work you, you do is above and beyond and I really mean that. So it’s a real pleasure to have you on the show. And I’m thinking just for you, maybe we should try and get our own Legally Speaking Podcast badges which can emulate the Blue Peter badge, so at least you feel like you, you got something connected to the, to the show. But let’s dive a bit deeper into your, your journey then because what motivated you to pursue a Graduate Diploma in Law and subsequently then the LPC and the MSc in Law, Business and Management given obviously, your, your, your pharmacy interests?

03:23 Thorrun Govind: 

So in terms of the pharmacy, it’s very full on, it’s, you’re right there with the patients all day long, it’s long hours. And yes, some people might want to help what possessed me at that time to carry on working whilst I was also trying to, to study for law as well. I was just really interested in the legal aspects of healthcare. So 1 of our core texts in, in pharmacy is the Medicines, Ethics and Practice. And that covers the legal issues regarding some of the work that we’re doing. So, in terms of when someone gives comes in with a prescription, what can you actually do with that prescription, what makes it legal, what makes it illegal. And when someone doesn’t have a prescription, how you supply those medications without a prescription, and the laws that allow that to happen, and specific drugs are allowed and specific drugs are not allowed. And it’s also to do with the ethics and, and also the discretion of the pharmacist. So, we are operating in a legal environment in the pharmacy, but we also have our ethical duties as well. So, all of that really prompted me to think a little bit more about law and went to do the Graduate Diploma of Law, which is, is the conversion course for those of you who have done another degree, so the Masters in Pharmacy. And obviously the route to law is changing now, so there’s the SQE. People are doing apprenticeships more and more as well. So I think it’s a really positive way now that we can see these different routes to law and we work with CILEX lawyers who’ve qualified via, via that route as well. But that’s how it really started for me and then I was really interested in the business element of the Law, Business and Management of the LPC. So, I’m not quite sure how it all happened to be honest Rob, but we’re here now and I’ve really enjoyed the journey.

05:11 Rob Hanna:

Yeah, and I love how you were sort of, you know, in pharmacy and you thought actually, there is quite a lot of connectivity here with, with legal and how you can maybe complement and blend the 2 and how, how you’ve kind of possessed to go on to flourishing, make that a career. I really like that. And so let’s go into the training contract you mentioned, obviously, things are changing a little bit. What areas of law did you get experience in, during your training contract?

05:33 Thorrun Govind: 

So I got involved with healthcare advisory law. So that’s inquest work. People don’t really know sometimes what inquest work is but when someone dies, there may be an investigation into how they died. And a coroner might get involved in and they are a judicial officer and they investigate that death. So there was that element. I also got involved with commercial contracts in my commercial seats. So that could be, primary care networks. So I think what’s really helped me is understanding the healthcare environment and being able to understand that when I’m working on contracts, for example. Also got involved in clinical negligence work as well, obviously, that’s GPs for example, is supported by an indemnity scheme. So, knowing how that translates to, you know, someone being in practice, and then the legal element of that was also really interesting as well.

06:26 Rob Hanna: 

Yeah, again, it’s great how you’ve kind of have 2 hats, and you can understand things from, from both perspective, I think that’s super cool. So, let’s dive into a bit more around how you have been able to kind of blend these 2. So how have you utilised the qualification as being a lawyer to support healthcare professionals and clients, and yeah, talk us through maybe some of the challenges and some of the positives of that.

06:49 Thorrun Govind: 

So, we have some really big national trade conferences when it comes to pharmacy. So had the opportunity to go and talk about law at those conferences, speak to people within my profession of pharmacy, and also healthcare more widely, and explain to them how I can assist them in a legal sense. Sometimes people have found me on LinkedIn, and that’s turned into a conversation, which has turned into them, potentially thinking about instructing me on a matter and giving, getting some more details from me. We also have the ability, obviously, to, to, with LinkedIn, social media, I think our reaches as, as lawyers is increased. And I think people want to see a lawyer who understands their field that they’re operating in. So it’s not just about the legal work, it’s also about showing that you understand your clients. So, if you worked in, I don’t know, shipping law, for example, reading articles and sharing articles about the shipping landscape would be really useful to you as a lawyer. So, I think we’ve got to get out of our computer screens. And it’s great, you’ve got, obviously got to get the law work done, the legal work done. But you also need to get out there and, and show your clients that you understand the real world as well.

08:01 Rob Hanna: 

Yeah, I agree. I think meeting clients where they’re at and, you know, showcasing knowledge and like you say, if you’re a shipping lawyer, you know, shipping law, you know, what are some of the changes? What are some of the things that are happening in the news and how that might impact businesses or what the future might, might look like, and communicating and, and really educating and showing that thought leadership is great. So, I guess sticking with, with educating, for those who may be less familiar, can you explain what healthcare advisory work involves?

08:26 Thorrun Govind: 

Well, it’s a whole range of, of, of practice. But in simple terms, it’s when there’s maybe some advice that needs to be provided on a healthcare matter. So, for some people in our team, they may be working on quarter protection work, or it could be representing an organisation at an inquest, it could be health and safety in a healthcare environment. It’s a very wide-reaching practice area, I would say. But in terms of the work that I do, it, with inquest law, and that’s quite interesting in the sense that you are in its, you know, you’ve got to think about the people that you’re coming into contact with. So, families of the, the bereaved, you’ve got to make sure that you are always respectful. And you also always have to be mindful of confidentiality. So, coming back to my healthcare practice as well, some really integral values to being a pharmacist is realising that, you don’t always know what’s going on with somebody and sometimes you have to have those difficult conversations with them, and you have to be sensitive to their needs as well.

09:27 Rob Hanna: 

Yeah, absolutely. We’re all human at the end of the day. And I think you know, you need to understand and you know, show empathy where, where empathy is needed, understand people situations, and there’s some really good advice shared there. So if you can, could you maybe tell us some of the types of cases you, you handle on a day to day perspective as sort of a healthcare advisory and inquest lawyer. Give us a bit of a day in the life.

09:46 Thorrun Govind: 

So, a day in the life can involve pre-meeting, so meetings with witnesses before we’ve got a court hearing, in the future. And that can be to explain to them what exactly is going to happen at that hearing. Because if you’ve never been to any sort of legal hearing before that can be quite scary. So it can be explained to them, that they will have to take an oath, how they will give their evidence in the sense that they may be able to have their witness statement there with them. But we wouldn’t necessarily want them to be reading that out. They need to listen to what is being asked of them, appreciate that this is a judicial environment that we need to maintain that same sense of decorum that you’d expect in a courtroom. And it is, people can be very stressed about attending court, and I don’t blame them. It’s an unnatural, it’s a very strange environment isn’t it, for people who are not used to it. So even, even for myself, you know, when you attend a different court setting, that can be an interesting experience for you, as well as a lawyer and you have to get used to these things. So pre- meetings with witnesses, it can involve attending inquests, that can be on Teams sometimes, or increasingly, we’re back to in person inquests as well. So, it can be replying to emails from our clients. So it’s quite a varied day I would say. And 1 of the great things about this role as well is sometimes you get the opportunity to work in different areas of the country as well, because now with, with remote working, remote courts, that’s making it much easier, but it’s always an adventure when you also get to go out and go to court as well.

11:22 Rob Hanna:

Yeah no, I’d love to, you know, have that experience, you know, when it comes to, go to court, obviously, you know, I think it’s, it’s wonderful that you also such a sort of, you know, early stage of your career, you’re getting all these amazing experiences. I think that’s great. And thanks for, for sharing more about that. Let’s stick back to pharmacy then because, how has your experience as a sort of community, practicing community pharmacist shaped your perspective on healthcare and advocacy generally?

11:49 Thorrun Govind: 

Well, I’ve got experience of advocacy on national media. But that’s not always the same as, as attending court, of course. And, when you’re presenting yourself a national media, you also have to recognise that there are limits to what you can say, and obviously in a court environment that is very different, you know, we’re there to, to, to speak the truth and always provide the best information to the court and to, look after our clients. But ultimately, we, we owe a duty to the court, which is the highest level. So, there are a lot, it’s, I think it’s difficult when you’re, you’re first starting out in advocacy. Luckily, I’ve had some experience of that. But I think for people who are just starting when it comes to advocacy, don’t be worried about being scared, about, about maybe feeling a bit stressed about it, speak to colleagues, go and maybe observe some hearings, they’re open courts so you can go and, and see those hearings. And that’s a great way of, of reassuring yourself and making sure that you put your best foot forward when you have to go into those hearings and, and be the advocate.

12:53 Rob Hanna: 

Yeah, absolutely. And again, really, really good advice. And thanks, again for imparting your, your, your wisdom on us. You mentioned about national media. You have absolutely been fantastic in this regard, because you’ve appeared on various media outlets. I mentioned in the introduction, likes of BBC News, Sky, This Morning, many, many others. What is the current state of the healthcare in the UK, in 2023, in your opinion?

13:18 Thorrun Govind: 

It’s, it’s a difficult 1. In community pharmacy, for example, we’re underfunded. So that means that effectively, community pharmacies are subsidising healthcare. So that means for example, when you go in and you get your medication, the cost of that drug for the pharmacy to buying and, and get into that pharmacy could have cost them 100 pounds, but they’re only getting paid, say, 50 pounds, by the government for that item, which means that they’ve got to find that 50 pounds from somewhere to fund, fund their, fund that medicine. So that’s a very crude example, not exactly, is quite specific and not very specific, but just an example of how things are going. And we’ve got staff who are facing burnout. So, they are just struggling because the capacity that we’re being expected to deal with is so high. Staffing levels have been cut to the bone because of funding. I think 1 thing I’m grateful for, in terms of law is that word capacity, which I’ve never really used as much as when I, became a lawyer. And it’s really about being able to explain that actually, I can’t do any more based on the resources that I have. And I think that’s 1 of the problems in healthcare at the moment that we’ve got so many amazing people who are also leaving the profession completely, leaving healthcare, because they are struggling in that environment. I mean, nobody should go to work and be worried about burnout. But we know law has the same issue, doesn’t it? We know that there’s a conversation to be had there about burnout in law as well. I think 1 of the, the other issues is with regards to healthcare, is we’ve got a system which wasn’t always valued by politicians out there. And what we really need is a cross-party approach to healthcare, instead of this constant changing of things when you know new people come into government or new ministers come in. So, for example, we were really looking forward to a pharmacy first approach by Sajid Javid who was then Health Secretary, which would mean that you could go into the pharmacy and get support with minor ailments. So things that you don’t need to see a GP for. But now, you know, almost a year, 18 months on, we’re still waiting for that to come in. Will it happen? I don’t know.

15:28 Rob Hanna: 

Yeah, I guess we watch, we watch this, this space. And you touched on there on, you know, I always try to look at the, the positives, obviously, you know, there are a lot of challenges, there’s a lot of issues, there are a lot of things that need, need sort of, you know, looking at. You mentioned, obviously, a bit of a uniform approach in terms of cross-party. Yeah, I get that. Absolutely. If you could sort of wave your, your, your magic wand and present solutions, what are some of the, the top things or you know, things you would like to say, do you know what, I just wish this could happen, because that would help X. Is there anything sort of burning that, you know, high level would, would, would really be a great solution, if you could, if you had the power to make it happen?

16:01 Thorrun Govind: 

So, couple of, a couple of things. Number 1, I would want people to be able to make an appointment with their pharmacist, independent prescriber, so they could see their prescriber in the community, at their local community pharmacy, so that’s easier for them to access. I would love to see more than 2, more than 1 pharmacist in a pharmacy, because then we’ve got that ability to have a bit more movement in terms of providing the, the supply of medication, which is a really important role that we have, but also services in terms of remember, you can go in and get your flu jab at your local pharmacy as well, you can get blood pressure checks if, you’re eligible for a free scheme if you meet certain criteria as well. So I think it’s about making use of the resources where they currently are. And also speaking to the practitioners who are actually working in that environment. All too often we find out about schemes, which haven’t really spoken to the people who are going to be at the heart of them. And ultimately we’re there for the patients. So, you’ve got to work with the patients to make sure that what we’re designing is good, good for them as well.

17:03 Rob Hanna:

Yeah, and again, just sort of picking up on that, I would say that there’s 3 C’s in there. 1, we’ve definitely got to care. Number 2, we’ve got to communicate. And number 3, you have to collaborate, right? I think there’s some really good lessons in there. And let’s hope and let’s push to see if we can, we can make some of those changes, definitely here on Legally Speaking Podcast, we, we definitely advocate for, for health first, you know, it’s well documented health as well. But this is important stuff and the work you’re doing is tremendously important. Just on tips, you know, you are featured in the media a lot. And you know, you get a lot of exposure, and you absolutely deserve it. Maybe for people looking, you know, I’d love to try and get some exposure, I’m passionate about social responsibility, or I’m passionate about, you know, a certain thing within my industry. Are there any tips you would give people in terms of maybe trying to get media exposure from, from, from your sort of experiences today?

17:46 Thorrun Govind: 

I think you’ve got to, number 1, you’ve got to have a story which is unique. If you keep repeating the same story about how everything’s awful, and you’re, you’re a victim, you know, we could keep going on about funding, for example, in community pharmacy, which the media will not listen to, if we keep talking about it. They are interested in it, but what they want to know about the impact of it. They want to know about some solutions to it. So, so that’s 1 element of it. You’ve got to have, you’ve got to be offering different stories, is, is 1 part. Number 2, it’s that networking, connections. Don’t sit, just because someone’s not been helpful to you don’t dismiss them. There’s always someone who might come be useful in the future to get back in contact with, or help them with something and down the line you can say, oh do you know about this, and it’s about keeping those connections and being polite to everyone you meet I think, and just being a nice human being goes a long way. And 3, remember that you know, there will always be critics. So, when I go on in the media, I will have some points that I know that I already want to get across. And I’ll always get well, you didn’t say this, and you didn’t say that, and you didn’t say that. But you’ve only got limited time to get across your message, in the media sometimes. So you’ve got to be really focused on what you want to get across and make sure that it is, is unique.

19:05 Rob Hanna:

Yeah, great advice. So, folks, listen back to that, rewind, what happened if you’re looking, try and get that exposure, remember, be different. Don’t just regurgitate what’s already out there, be different, have a good story and the actual impact on that, network, network, network. Be kind, manners don’t cost a thing. You’ll be amazed by being kind to people how that can actually come back, and be a positive in your life, and be prepared when you get these opportunities. Be prepared and make sure you articulate your messages passionately and personally, and that’s no wonder why you get lots of exposure and, and rightly so, and why we’re lucky to have you on the show today. So Thorrun, sticking with your sort of career journey, you were elected as the Chair of the English Pharmacy Board in 2021, becoming the youngest, ever I believe official, to hold that position. So congratulations. What matters did you set out to address when you were elected as the Chair? It’s time for a short break from the show. Calling all lawyers who want to work smarter, not harder. Are you tired of following old processes just because? Or do you feel like your current set-up is letting you down. Then I recommend you try Clio, the legal software that streamlines your workflow and keeps your entire firm organised. With Clio’s cloud based legal software, you can quickly and easily manage your cases, billing, documents, and calendar all from 1 place. They’ve even got an easy-to-use mobile app. So you can stay on top of your cases, wherever you go. Join the 10s of 1000s of legal professionals worldwide, who trust Clio for all of their legal needs. It’s the legal software that works for the modern law firm. Dive in, start using it right away, with their 7-day free trial. Sign up now at Clio dot com forward slash Legally Speaking. That’s C L I O dot com forward slash Legally Speaking. Now back to the show.

21:04 Thorrun Govind: 

So I set out to, a number of things, but 1 of those was actually to connect with our members better and also to utilise the media. And I’m really grateful that that is 1 thing that we’ve, we’ve seen, in fact, to the point where I’ve actually had complaints about umm how much media exposure we’re getting. So, that’s fantastic from, from my point of view. We’ve also been developing a vision for England, in terms of pharmacy practice in the future. So it’s really, it’s, it is busy, obviously you know I have, I’ve had, this is alongside my roles as a practicing pharmacist and, and as a lawyer. And I think I’m really grateful and privileged to, to have this role. But ultimately, it’s to support our members, and pharmacists. And I’ve been doing that for over 10 years. Before I was even practicing, I was trying to get on radio outlets and talking about pharmacy and they’d write back to me and say, we, we can’t talk to you because you’re under 18. And that was obviously before I was even qualified as a pharmacist. So, 1 of those other things, messages that I’d say is you just need to be persistent as well. There’s going to be lots of people who tell you why you can’t do something, why things were a bad idea. Now obviously, use some common sense. And if it is a bad idea, maybe reassess. But, but sometimes people will just tell you, you can’t do something because they haven’t had that idea themselves.

22:27 Rob Hanna: 

Yeah. And again, never treat a no as a no forever. It could just be a not now. You could think of a strategic way to re-approach in the future or, look at alternative routes. And absolutely, I’m a big advocate for being persistent. If it matters enough, make it happen. And there is no day 1. You know, everyone says 1 day, 1 day, it’s day 1. I love that you started early, you know, like you said there, there’s the challenge of, you know, being, being so young, but it’s great that you’re starting early. So I would encourage people you know, it’s day 1 today, not 1 day, take, take action. Okay, let’s talk about some of the responsibilities because you are super busy. So what does that look like? What responsibilities do you have as a Board Member of the Royal Pharmacist Society?

23:03 Thorrun Govind: 

Okay, so in terms of, I always think, you know, Nolan Principles of public life. So I think there’s that responsibility to, to be honest, and open, and transparent with people. In terms of how that looks like in terms of chairing as well, so that means that I speak to our board members regularly. I am obviously not, I don’t work for the organisation. So, if you think about it, I’m like an ambassador for the organisation and I, help, be strategic, and also think about where some decisions might need to be made, for example. But there’s some fantastic people who are there in the organisation doing their job, and they will come to me sometimes and ask me for my views on things, and I will make suggestions as to where we need, need to be going next. So it’s, it is quite umm, you know, a role where you’ve got lots of paperwork, and there’s lots of things to read. And I think being a lawyer really helps with that, getting to the nitty gritty of details. But I also think I’ve always had this sort of marketing, marketing, sort of understanding as well. And I think sometimes, in anything, you could be a really good company but if you’re not good at telling people, what you do, and how you do it, then sometimes people can forget about it and they’ll say, well what are you actually doing? So you’ve got to make sure you’re communicating to people really well as well.

24:19 Rob Hanna: 

Yeah, no, communication skills are so, so important. I talked about that time and time again, and anything in business or, in management or, leadership, or any role, really mastering the art of communication and listening skills, which you pointed out earlier. Super, super important. So, within your roles, then as Chair and Board Member, if I can get my words out, how are you promoting diversity and inclusion in pharmacy? And would you say there are any similar challenges in regards to diversity and inclusion in pharmacy as there might be in the law?

24:48 Thorrun Govind: 

I’ll start off with something that I actually saw recently on a law firm website. And I went on there, and I couldn’t find anyone who looked like me, and I couldn’t find anyone. I was looking for the diversity on that website. And I just thought, I can’t see it. And I don’t want anyone, I don’t want anyone in legal professional, pharmacy professional or anywhere to see, see that, where you can’t even see anyone who might look like you, that’s really bad to me. And actually, even in the media, even, when I was growing up Ranveer Singh, she was the only, probably Asian female that I used to see growing up on TV. And now I am in contact with so many fantastic Asian females who are in, on, in the media spotlight doing news reading. And that’s really changed my perspective, because I can see someone who looks like me, on my own TV now. In terms of the work that the Royal Pharmaceutical Society is doing, so, I am the chair for England, there’s also a chair for Scotland, and Wales. But obviously, diversity and inclusion isn’t just an English matter, it’s a whole organisational matter. So we have a Head of Professional Belonging, who is doing amazing work and it’s about intersectionality as well. So, we’re thinking about women in pharmacy, we’re thinking about LGBTQ+ and, and other, in all of this, you’ve got to think about every, everyone’s needs in a sense, because you’d also you don’t know what people are going through. So there are people as well who maybe meet some of these criteria, and 1 don’t want to talk about it, because they’re not at that stage yet, or they’re struggling with what they’re having to go through, disability, you know. If, for example, you’re struggling with your mental health, that’s long term, that is, you know, a disability. Perhaps you might struggle to talk to people about it, because there is a still a stigma around mental health. So I just hope with all the work that we’re doing, and also not in a silo, as an organisation, every organisation needs to think about this, because it’s, it’s an, as someone said to me, it’s not just about it being the right thing. Now, you know, you know, as well as I do, consumers don’t want to be linked to organisations which aren’t doing this anymore. I don’t want to go and buy from an organisation where they are, they’re showing signs of discrimination or, or anything like that. So we need to think that this is something that is the morally the right thing to do in every organisation. And I think we all need to look at our own organisations. And you need to look at the diversity within our own organisations and have really difficult conversations, but which are really necessary to challenge the status quo, because it’s all too easy to carry on with the status quo, isn’t it?

27:36 Rob Hanna: 

If nothing changes, nothing changes. And I think, you know, we’re huge advocates here on the Legally Speaking Podcast for diversity and inclusion, and I think I support everything that you just said. And we’ve had, you know, previous figureheads, likes of Stephanie Boyce, so, you know, former, you know, President of The Law Society, and many, many others doing wonderful, great work, to, to really like you say, have these conversations, and then looking at sort of, you know, practical ways to, to improve. And I love that you gave that example of websites, and then, you know, you saw it, and then you sort of know, I’m going to make the change, I’m going to make something happen. And you know, really, really tip my hat to everything that you’re doing because it’s, it’s really meaningful and impactful work. So, I want to talk about social media, because we’ve talked about media, but you do use social media very well, the likes of LinkedIn and, and Twitter to advocate for the healthcare profession. What opportunities have you been able to yield through your use of social media, specifically, and any strategies or tactics you would share?

28:32 Thorrun Govind: 

So, I mean, the main thing is I got my training position as a pharmacist via Twitter. I’ve connected with journalists on, on Twitter so they’ll, they’ll contact me in terms of, can we have a quote? Can you come on? LinkedIn, I think LinkedIn is a little bit more professional in the sense that you can get a lot of anonymous people on Twitter, but obviously is a bit harder on LinkedIn, and I think, there’s an element of, people are a bit more sort of focused when they’ve got their company name, linked to their actual face and name on LinkedIn. So I think it’s been amazing for me, I’ve had opportunities to support conferences, asked to speak at conferences, via social media. A lot of the, this work that I do is via social media, the connections that I’ve made, and I don’t think it can be underestimated for that networking ability, does come with a negative side as well, because I think people think that they know everything about you, that they can draw a comment on everything that you do. I mean, most recently, I, as anyone who knows me, knows I love chocolate. So I, if I have a pain au chocolate, you might see me posting about that and had someone suggesting I was promoting diabetes, which is factually incorrect, given we know how diabetes actually occurs. But also just you have to understand that people, you don’t actually know who that person is behind that account. So you have to take everything with a pinch of salt. And you have to think, would I ask that person for an opinion on something? And most of the time, because they’re anonymous, you probably, may not.

30:14 Rob Hanna:

Yeah, no, I think it’s a really good way of, of looking at it, you know, you know, I think sometimes people can say, say comments that can be very hurtful, or like say, factually just incorrect, or, or wrong, but sort of, you know, shaping it in your mindset as well. Would I value their opinion or would I ask their opinion? I think it’s a really good way of kind of neutralising things in your head, because we can’t dispute the fact that, you know, social media has tons of positives, but there are, you know, a lot of negatives for people who do decide to put themselves out there. So thank you for highlighting both sides. Let’s go back into interviews. So, in your interview with Eastern Eye, you outline if I quote, “I feel that it’s important for younger members of the profession to know that age is not a barrier to leadership. We can all show leadership in our own individual way”. So, what 3 tips would you share with those applying for leadership roles, whether that be in the legal or pharmaceutical profession? Or maybe more broadly?

31:10 Thorrun Govind: 

Umm so number 1, yeah, don’t, don’t scrap the age out of the equation, it’s actually about what you’ve done. Umm number 2, ask for permission, ask for forgiveness, not permission is, is how it goes, isn’t it? Like a lot of people tell you no, you shouldn’t, don’t contact that person, you know, they’re not going to help you. Well, what’s the harm in asking, someone can only say no. So, try and speak to people in positions that you want to end up in, in the future. And that’s why mentorship and reverse mentorship is really helpful, breaking down barriers between people. And then number 3, I would say, again, you don’t need a fancy title, to be able to make change. And it’s even if you make change on a tiny level that’s can make great waves of change, can’t it? So don’t think you have to go big, immediately. Just pick something, focus on it, push hard, be persistent, and you will get there. And then, and then you can scale it up, but don’t be disheartened if, if it’s not something that big and amazing the first time. We just have to show leadership and, and give it a go.

32:15 Rob Hanna: 

Yeah, really, really wise words. And I love that. And I just love your whole overall mindset on, on things, on always looking forward. And, you know, my, my view on this is, everyone is a leader, you know, everyone is a leader, whether you choose to accept that or not, we all carry some form of leadership responsibility. And I think if you surround yourself around leaders that you look up to and inspired by, that will bring out that inner leadership in, in, inside of you, and everything that you, you do. So, let’s go back to where we can dovetail and connect the 2, pharmacy and the law, because there have been discussions, I believe, about the pharmacy degree apprenticeships, similar to solicitor apprenticeships. So, what are your thoughts on this route qualifying and to give us some high-level details about it?

32:57 Thorrun Govind: 

So, I can’t give you too much detail. But yes, there has been discussion on this for a number of years now. And we do need to think as any profession about how we look after our future pipeline of pharmacists. There’s debates either way as to whether this should happen or not. I think ultimately sometimes people can forget it is a degree level. So you still actually have to do the Master’s in pharmacy degree. It’s not like that’s discounted. I think we’ve, at this stage until I get a bit more detail, wouldn’t like to comment, in, in, in detail, because I think the facts on this 1 are really key. And, what I mean, I understand both arguments in terms of people are, the arguments people are giving is oh, you know, I had to go through it, so why shouldn’t these people, which is 1 argument. And then there’s another argument about accessing the profession, and also that student debts that we all have. And I think there’s a lot more discussions will be had on this. So I am awaiting it, just like the rest of the profession at this stage. And we’ll have to see how it goes. But, as I say, I, I’ve obviously seen it from, I think there’s a few things that the pharmacy profession could learn from the legal profession. And 1 of those things is in terms of supervision, because it’s really ingrained in to us isn’t it about supervision in the legal profession, but in terms of as a pharmacist, you do your 1 year training, you do, you pass your exam, and that’s it. Nobody’s supervising you anymore. Where’s the support coming from? So, obviously I’m really grateful that I have 2 professions to compare and contrast. And I’m still doing my own research actually as to the legal apprenticeships route as well. So no doubt that will help inform me a little bit more when it comes to the pharmacist apprenticeship ideas as well.

34:48 Rob Hanna: 

Yeah, no, and again, it’s great that you’re very measured in, in your responses and you know, clearly a pretty strong lawyer as well in terms of always understanding the facts first before, you know, providing final comments and I think that is really sage advice. And you touched on it their, supervision and that lends nicely actually to my, my last question I want to ask you if I may, which is around mentorship because you mentor both pharmacy and law students. So what advice would you give to those who are just starting out in their careers? And what guidance would you share with aspiring solicitors who maybe might be interested in getting into healthcare law?

35:18 Thorrun Govind: 

So number 1, there’s, at the University of Law, for example, where I went, there was a mentor, mentor scheme. So that was a great opportunity to meet advanced lawyers outside, outside of studying. And that’s a good way to connect with people. I also used to ring up, pick up the phone, ringing up random lawyers and say, look, I’ve read your article, really liked it. Could we have a chat about it? Obviously, don’t do that if you haven’t got anything useful to say to them. They are busy people, but definitely helped me with some of applying for some positions, because it saves me, oh yes you can put my name on the application form. So that was a great way of connecting with people. I would also say again, LinkedIn, you can message people, ask for their advice. Remember, they may get, might get hundreds of requests a week. So, don’t be disheartened if someone doesn’t reply. People are really busy as well. But just get your name out there. Ask for help is, asking for help isn’t a bad thing, but also maybe, also suggest where you can help them for example, share their articles, comment on their LinkedIn pieces, and, and show that it’s a 2 way street really.

36:25 Rob Hanna: 

Yeah, I love that final point in particular. Because I always talk about this, you know, never stop networking point 1, NSN, but always lead with value. And I love that you’ve demonstrated that there you know, don’t just message someone you know, what’s in it for you remember, everyone’s favourite radio station I talk about all the time W I FM, what’s in it for them, okay? So if you can lead with value, something insightful that brings something to a conversation that maybe helps that post to get more visibility through your thought leadership, or adding something to a conversation, or you like their article, and you can say, hey actually I would like to write an opinion on this and quote you and share this with my community that would give you X, Y and Z. Always think about things, about how it’s going to add value to the end receiver. Really, really sage advice. Thank you so much for that. So, if our listeners Thorrun would like to do so, which I’m sure they will, learn more about your journey or the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, where can they find out more?

37:15 Thorrun Govind: 

So you can find me on Twitter at pharmthorrun and you can always find me on LinkedIn at Thorrun Govind and then also at lawpharm on Instagram. And obviously the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, which is the professional body for pharmacists, is, has its own websites and is on all those channels as well.

37:33 Rob Hanna: 

Thank you so much. We’ll also share all those links with this episode too. So this just leads me to say thank you so, so much Thorrun for coming on the show. It’s been an absolute blast. I was really looking forward to this 1 and you’ve delivered so many gems, super, super grateful. So, from all of us on the Legally Speaking Podcast, for now, wishing you lots of continued success with your career and future pursuits. But for now, over now. Thank you for listening to this week’s episode. If you liked the content here, why not check out our world leading content and collaboration hub the Legally Speaking Club over on Discord. Go to our website www dot Legally Speaking Podcast dot com for the link to join our community there. Over and out.

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