Hello my name is Jake!
I have recently graduated from Liverpool John Moores University and I am now working as a pre-registration pharmacist at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals. I would not have made it to this point in my career without my experience of being an NHS Youth Forum (NHSYF)member.
Although the NHSYF is a national project, ran by the British Youth Council and NHS England, not very many people have heard about it. So, whenever I get the chance to promote the NHSYF’s amazing work, I jump at the opportunity! The NHSYF is made up of 25 young people aged 13 to 25 from across the whole of England. The members meet three times a year to work towards improving Children and Young People’s experiences of NHS services and to ensure that their voices are heard within the NHS. This work takes on a variety of forms,including reviewing NHS guidelines, creating resources and presenting to healthcare professionals at conferences.
It’s quite funny to think that I hadn’t heard of the NHSYF myself before I applied. My boss tweeted me the link, and I ended up applying a few hours before the deadline because I had just finished my final exam ofsecond year. I had always been keen to improve NHSservices, so thankfully my application was successful. Iattended my first NHSYF residential in 2016, which ignited a passion inside me that I didn’t know existed.
Through working with the NHSYF, I’ve truly felt like my ideas have been respected, listened to and led to positive change, which has allowed my confidence to skyrocket. Before I joined the NHSYF, I really struggled with my confidence; I could barely catch a bus or talk to someone I didn’t know. Now, I present to groups of healthcare professionals almost monthly. Over the past two years, I’ve worked alongside art students, journalists, medics, student nurses, patient advocates, members of youth parliament and even an ex ITV2 presenter. Being a part of this diverse team has allowed me to see the world through different viewpoints and thus improve mycreativity, problem-solving, organisation, leadership and communication skills. Now, my two-year term on the Youth Forum has sadly come to an end, but I will be taking away a transferable skillset to aid me in my pharmacy career and the belief that I can do anything that I put my mind to. I am currently working alongside my local Trust in order to create both a Hospital Youth Forum and Young Governor role for the Trust!
As front line healthcare professionals, I feel pharmacists have a key role in engaging and inspiring young people, which make up 25% of England’s population. So, I challenge you to be a pharmacist who takes the time to involve and empower young people to play an active role in their own healthcare, after all, they are the expert in being a young person.
This article was written by Jake Ashton.