The Northern Ireland Healthcare Awards took place on 23 September this year at an in-person event in Belfast. These awards pay tribute to the positive impact those within the health sector have on their patients and peers. As for previous years, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) sponsored the Student Leadership category of the awards, which was won by Fatimah Khan (pictured) a student at Ulster University.

According to PDA Chairman Mark Koziol M.R.Pharm.S, for the pharmacy profession to thrive, it will need strong leadership: 

“Irrespective of their origins, all leaders must be nurtured if they are to rise to the top and make a difference. The quest to inspire and encourage leadership in pharmacy must start at undergraduate level.”

This year’s winner Fatimah is actively involved in Pharmacy Forum NI through membership of our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Working Group and as a Pharmacy Futures NI champion. Outside the Forum, Fatimah has completed the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Student Ambassador EDGE Award Activity, which involved participating in five different school-related outreach activities to help promote pharmacy. She is also a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Student Champion and a PDA Student Representative. 

In her award application, when asked about handling change and building confidence to meet challenges, Fatimah’s response highlighted her experience as an international student dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic: 

“As countries began to lock down, I was faced with having to manage my studies alongside organising last minute travel back home amidst multitudes of flight and local transport cancellations as well as needing to pack up my flat…The experience helped me realise that while changes can be difficult to face they are also key tools in exercising our strengths and building confidence.”

Other notable Healthcare award winners in pharmacy this year included the Specialist Services Team, Antrim Area Hospital (Northern Health & Social Care Trust) which was awarded Hospital Pharmacy Team of the Year and the Timoney Pharmacy Team, Lambeg, which was awarded Community Pharmacy Practice of the Year.

The ceremony also featured a 2021 Special Recognition Award honouree, which was dedicated to Northern Ireland’s entire healthcare community for collaborative effort throughout the pandemic. Health Minister Robin Swann MLA, accepted the award on behalf of the sector and paid tribute to their contributions.