World Pharmacist Day: ‘Healthcare is a family affair’

Adam George, Pharm.D. Senior Director, TA Head Respiratory & Oncology Regulatory Affairs, has spoken to us about being a science geek, his love of racing cars and how he was inspired to take up a career in pharmacy.

World Pharmacist Day: ‘Healthcare is a family affair’

 

Adam, who lives in Westminster, Maryland, has been working at Teva’s Frazer office just outside Philadelphia for two years after a stint at the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The 37-year-old completed a six-year Doctor of Pharmacy at Temple University in Philadelphia – where he was brought up.
And Adam has revealed that healthcare was very much a family affair as his mother was a nurse and his world-war two veteran grandfather worked for a pharmacy in his later years.

I grew up wanting to be a cardiothoracic doctor…until I visited my mother in the hospital where she worked
My mother had been a cardiac critical nurse since the 1970’s and as a 15-year-old I thought that being a cardiopathic doctor was something that stoked my interest. I wanted to be the one conducting open-heart surgery and heart bypasses, but I changed my mind after my mother, Maryann, invited me to the Brandywine Hospital in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

 
I shadowed her for a day to give me a flavour of what the job entailed, which gave me a chance to see the job at close quarters and speak to the doctors. It was then that I found out about the amount of time you would have to spend in education.


I was told that I would not have been able to become qualified until I was in my mid-thirties. I always wanted to work on race cars and generally have an active social life so this really turned me off to that idea.


I think my mother was happy with my decision, and the hospital visit achieved exactly what she had intended. It steered me away from the rat-race and the stress of being a cardiopathic doctor.


One day a pharmacist came to talk at my high school
A year later, at my high school, a pharmacist came to talk to all of us about our future careers and it made me think back to when my grandfather, Pap, as we used to call him, worked for a pharmacy. He would always take me on the runs where he would drop off medicines to local nursing homes and I thought it was something that could interest me.


As I showed an interest the pharmacist offered me the chance to shadow his work for the day to see what a pharmacist does, at the very same hospital my mother worked.


Pharmacy spoke to the science geek in me
I was sixteen at the time and I was helping complete simple tasks such as filling orders inside the hospital and delivering pills to patients.
But I got to like the patient-facing side of the job and the vocation spoke to the science geek inside of me. I’d always loved science, especially chemistry, and it was here that I began thinking about the concoctions pharmacists make that help people get better, and I knew what I wanted to do with my life.


When I am not wrestling with regulatory issues at Teva, racing cars are my passion
I have always believed that it is crucial to have a healthy work/life balance, and since I was a child I have had a passion for racing cars. I blame my cousin for this. When I was child he brought me a poster of the famous Lamborghini Countach, which I immediately fell in love with and placed on my bedroom wall.


I was always reading articles about cars and had planned to start racing at some point. In 2011, I competed for the first time.


I road race with my Ford Mustang touring car
I also have a Hyundai Accent that my girlfriend and I use for rally racing, it probably takes up around two or three of our weekends every month. During the week I find myself working on the cars in the evenings, it helps me to decompress after working hard all day.
The Ford Mustang is for competitive racing and I have won a few autocross races and made the podium quite a few times, which is very pleasing. But what is really gratifying is to see a machine that you have worked on, and labored over, help achieve success in a race.


I think having a World Pharmacists Day is a great idea
To be honest I had not heard of it until this year, but the fact is that pharmacists play a really important role in the treatment of illnesses around the world.
Odds are that the healthcare professional you will interact with most will be your pharmacist. Whether it’s when you pick up your pills each month or when you need general advice, pharmacists play a really important role in healthcare everywhere.


Bringing new drugs to the market inspires me
What inspires me every day is developing new and different drugs that patients can use to get themselves better. Having worked in the healthcare sector for many years I have watched numerous drugs come to market, especially in my area of expertise, oncology, that have made big differences in people’s lives.


In my career both at Teva and after leaving university and working with the US FDA, I am lucky to have been exposed to many different products that have been brought to market successfully - that is really motivating.


Also the science geek in me always wants to experiment.


If I was to speak to the sixteen-year-old me I’d tell them to keep working hard
There is a lot of pressure in my job but I really do enjoy it and despite the hard work and effort in getting to this point I would tell a younger version of myself to keep struggling.


I would say that the journey will challenge you intellectually and emotionally but it’s all worth it in the end. There are a lot of stresses in my job but you need to accept there will be failures before there are successes, and that new challenges will come up every day. But I believe that I thrive under pressure and it could have been my mother who gave me the ‘eat stress for breakfast’ attitude.


And if I was to start my career again I’d change…
Absolutely nothing, I would do it all over again.