5 Questions: Former Head of Chemistry Inspired MBE Alumna

An interview with successful Alumni Clare Morrison. Morrison, speaks with Robin Mackillop about receiving the MBE and how the Head of Chemistry inspired her....

Clare Morrison Clare Morrison

Q1. When did you attend Hills Road?
I was a student at Hills Road in 1992-1994 (A-levels in Chemistry, Biology and Maths).

Q2. How did Dr Cook inspire you?
Dr Cook made Chemistry absolutely fascinating. I got a sense that he was really interested in what he was teaching, and that enthusiasm came through. To learn something, I need to understand the “why” and he was always happy to explain it, so I was never left thinking “that’s just something I have to accept and memorise”. He made Chemistry real.
I arrived at Hills Road with plans to study medicine, but then Dr Cook inspired my interest in Chemistry so I decided that Pharmacy was a better option as it focused on the chemistry part of medicine. There’s no doubt that Dr Cook changed my career path in a hugely positive way.

Q3. How did you get from being a sixth form student at Hills Road to receiving an MBE?
I went to the University of London to study Pharmacy, and then worked as a pharmacist in community pharmacy and pharmaceutical journalism. In 2005, I moved to the Scottish Highlands and into an NHS leadership role. The MBE was for: Developing a number of medicines safety initiatives; Creating a new clinical pharmacy service: Working out how to deliver NHS services in different ways in a remote and rural area (including through the use of telehealth).

Much of this work has been spread across Scotland, and one of the medicines safety initiatives – creating medicine sick day rules cards that explain the medicines to stop temporarily when ill – has been adopted by a number of NHS organisations across the UK and even in other parts of the world.

Q4 What did receiving the MBE mean to you?
It is a huge honour which recognises the hard work of the entire NHS Highland Rural Pharmacy team I work with. It’s fantastic to get our team on the map as an innovative, forward-thinking group of people who are committed to improving the quality of services we provide in the NHS.

Q5 What advice would you give teenagers today?
Gosh that’s really difficult. The three best bits of advice I’ve been given are:

  1. Have a clear plan of where you are going. For example, when you make university choices, be clear what job a degree will lead to.
  2. Understand how to work as part of a team – it’s essential for just about any job.
  3. Be curious and generous: share everything you do know and ask about everything you don’t know. Never stop learning.