I'm passionate about women's health and wellbeing says new WoW! columnist

Next week in Women on Wednesday, March 11, we will be introducing a new health and wellbeing column by Dr Michelle O'Driscoll, as part of a revamp of the supplement. Here ELAINE DUGGAN chats to the Ballygarvan based mum, community pharmacist and lecturer
I'm passionate about women's health and wellbeing says new WoW! columnist
Dr Michelle O'Driscoll our new columnist, who starts writing 'Your Health, Your Wellbeing' from Wednesday March 11, in WoW!Picture: David Keane.

ORIGINALLY from Innishannon and now living in Ballygarvan, Dr Michelle O’Driscoll has a particular passion for women’s health and wellbeing — so she is a perfect fit for a new column in WoW!

Michelle is a Lecturer of Clinical Pharmacy, while continuing to work in the community pharmacy setting.

She also runs her own company called InTuition, where she delivers health promotion workshops to corporate and academic organisations nationally. Her research interests lie in the area of mental health education.

In her new weekly WoW! column, Michelle will explore a variety of physical and mental health topics, supporting readers in all aspects of health and wellness development — from work-life balance, to beating burn-out, premenstrual syndrome, polycystic ovaries, mindful nutrition, pelvic floor issues, migraine, contraception and much more.

Michelle, who lives with her husband in Ballygarvan, is mum to Grace, who she gave birth to just two weeks after completing her PhD. The couple are expecting their second child in August.

Michelle says she always wanted to work in healthcare. She enjoyed science in school, but wanted to combine it with working with people, so pharmacy was the perfect fit.

“As a pharmacist, you build up lasting relationships with your patients. You’re often their first port of call, and get to be at the coal-face a lot of the time.”

She studied her BPharm at UCC for four years and completed her MPharm in RCSI, while on placement in a Cork pharmacy.

She enjoyed “being able to make small differences to people’s health outcomes, and their understanding of what medications they were taking and why.”

Upon qualifying, Michelle realised that life as a community pharmacist was a very rewarding but demanding role. She explained: “You want to spend time with the patient, but on a busy day you might have five prescriptions waiting, a queue of people to speak to you, paperwork piling up and a doctor on the phone.

“In such a fast-paced environment, it’s important to be able to still give patients the time and attention they deserve, while also striking a balance between self-care and patient care.”

This sparked her return to research, looking specifically at how to prepare pharmacy students mentally as well as academically for their future profession. During her three-year PhD in Pharmacy Education, she investigated ways to prevent burnout, reduce stress and improve students’ ability to communicate more effectively with patients.

Michelle has since decided to take her research in teaching mental health promotion and bring it to the general public, and so her company InTuition was born. She runs workshops and seminars for corporates, academics and the public sector, teaching techniques around how to ‘thrive rather than just survive’. She offers training in stress and burn-out management, building resilience, communication and leadership skills, as well as appropriate management of physical health.

“It’s really beginning to take off, which is great. People want to feel their very best both physically and mentally, and companies are supporting their employees to achieve that now.

“I get to engage with people about their health in more interactive ways, without the demands of a busy pharmacy pulling me away.”

For more about Michelle and her company see Twitter: @InTuitionIRE, Instagram/Facebook: @intuitionconsultancy and LinkedIn: Michelle O’Driscoll

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