Today’s episode is an interview with Dr. Muhammad Umar Hafeez. He uses his voice to advocate telepharmacy and educate pharmacists and pharmacy students online. He’s also the only pharmacist I know who occasionally has to take a helicopter to get to work.
Dr. Umar loves his job. His education, work experience, and personal sense of adventure led him to what he does today. No matter what industry you are in, I hope you find a way to use your voice in a way that you love.
Telepharmacy and telemedicine have become essential during the COVID pandemic. Using electronic information and telecommunication technologies, telepharmacy allows contact between patients and pharmacists. Care, advice, education, reminders, monitoring, and more can still be provided when in-person interactions are not an option.
My guest is Dr. Muhammad Umar Hafeez (Dr. Umar). We are physically more than 7,000 miles apart, but Dr. Umar and I were able to connect for an interview on June 15. Because of his unique work setting, he has been using tele pharmacy since well before the COVID pandemic.
Dr. Umar is a pharmacist. He graduated with his Doctor of Pharmacy Degree from the University of the Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan in 2012. Then, he earned his MBA in 2019, from the Dubai campus of the Spanish institute Universidad Católica de Murcia (also known as UCAM or The Catholic University of Murcia). Dubai is located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Over the past eight years, Dr. Umar’s work experience has included roles in hospital, research, freelance work, quality audits, training, education, and tele-pharmacy.
Dr. Umar lives in Abu Dhabi, which is located in the UAE. He supervises Pharmacy Operations for the leading oil and gas company in the UAE. He is a strong advocate of tele-pharmacy. His telepharmacy practice sites include oil rigs (both onshore and offshore), remote sites in the desert, deep sea platforms, oil barges, and natural and man-made islands in the Arabian Gulf.
In his spare time, he volunteers online with a group called “Giving Back To Pharmacy In Pakistan.” It can be described as an organization of volunteer Pharmacists from around the world aiming to refine the Pharmacy Profession in Pakistan by sharing best practices and engaging relevant stakeholders. He helps both pharmacists and pharmacy students.
Mentioned in this episode
Giving Back to Pharmacy In Pakistan (LinkedIn Page) (https://www.linkedin.com/company/giving-back-to-pharmacy-in-pakistan)
Dr. Umar’s LinkedIn Profile linkedin.com/in/muhammad-umar-hafeez-pharm-d-mba-997ab949
Highlights from the interview
During a typical week (prior to the COVID pandemic), Dr. Umar is in the office 3 days/week and in the field 2 days/week. He is a subject matter specialist on medications, but he also performs business roles, such as KPI review.
Dr. Umar supervises 150 sites. Some sites provide emergency healthcare services. Others are general practice clinics, first aid posts, and field hospitals. Dr. Umar gets to visit ALL the sites. He is adventurous!
Many of the pharmacists Dr. Umar supervises work 14-28 days on-site, then 14-28 days off-site, similar to the gas and oil workers. Workers typically bring their own meds from home. Because of COVID, the schedule has temporarily changed. Chronic medications are transported to remote sites using a variety of vehicles, such as helicopters, jeeps, jets, etc. There are travel restrictions in the UAE related to the COVID pandemic. Using telepharmacy, secure and confidential counseling is provided, among other services.
As a supervisor, Dr. Umar oversees pharmacy operations across the UAE. Depending on the site, formularies may be used if a pharmacist is not present. Teamwork is important, and nurses dispense medications when a pharmacist is not present.
Communication can be a challenge in some of the most remote sites under Dr. Umar’s supervision. Radio communication is sometimes the only option. Because telepharmacy was in place prior to COVID, Dr. Umar’s practice sites have refined a system that was already in place. It was working well, and now it is stronger. Dr. Umar and his team are more confident in their ability to provide care.
Dr. Umar loves to learn. He believes a continuous learning attitude is important. What education is needed for Dr. Umar’s job? A Pharm D, a license to practice in the UAE, a management degree (MBA), and other safety certifications related to the oil and gas industry.
Giving Back to Pharmacy In Pakistan provides coaching and mentoring in the form of online webinars and lectures. You may visit the group’s page on LinkedIn for more information. He mentors pharmacists and pharmacy students by exposing them to real-world scenarios so they can learn and gain more practical experience.
The Pharmacist’s Voice Podcast has listeners in 23 countries and 39 US States.