Jennifer McDowell

Prison Pharmacist

In my final year at Queen’s University Belfast, I took part in a pharmacy elective in Nepal with an organisation called Work the World. I absolutely loved the experience  volunteering abroad and helped out again on another trip to Kenya. Then my real-life career began…

I was interested in the prison system and how the health of inmates was managed so when an opportunity arose to join the prison healthcare team here, I jumped at the chance. Today I work as a pharmacist for the Healthcare in Prisons team in Northern Ireland, which cares for inmates in all three establishments. The Prison Healthcare Pharmacy, based in HMP Maghaberry is responsible for medicine management within the prisons to ensure patients receive the most appropriate treatment for their condition.

Beyond my day-to-day job, I am genuinely excited about the growing voice of pharmacists and our profession, generally. With an aging population and rise in lifestyle diseases we are seeing more people on multiple medications. Pharmacists play a vital role in optimising patients’ care and being an easily accessible healthcare professional for patients. I love the role I play in each patients’ health journey and being able to improve their care where possible. Drug misuse and dependence is a significant problem in NI. I think pharmacists are well equipped to help educate our patients on these issues and signpost them to suitable help and support.

The healthcare in prisons service has been evolving over the previous decade with a greater emphasis being put on medicine management. I would be happy to share our experience and to promote the great work the pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are doing in this niche.