“My career as a pharmacist and television presenter”

Photo courtesy of Bav Heer

This UK pharmacist presents live television to a global audience in two different languages every morning

Bav Heer, a pharmacist from Birmingham in the UK, has spoken to The Pharmaceutical Journal about her unconventional career path.

“I am a co-host on a live morning show on a community TV channel, whose audience spans 106 countries and serves mainly the Sikh and Punjabi community. I am the health and wellness correspondent for the channel and I offer nutrition and lifestyle advice,” she tells the journal.

 “I qualified as a pharmacist in 1997 and my personal curiosity led me to train as a naturopathic nutritional therapist. When I saw the impact that nutritional intervention was having on my clients’ health I wanted to make a difference on a larger scale.

“One of my friends hosted a drug and alcohol addiction programme and he introduced me to the television channel. The original proposition was to do a series of pre-recorded shows that could be aired repeatedly but, after the first screen test, the production team decided that they wanted to start a morning show instead. I agreed without really understanding what I was agreeing to — and now I’m a regular television presenter,” she says.

Heer says she arrives at the television studio at 7.45am each morning and is usually finished by 9.30am, so she can continue with other work.

“This allows me to undertake locum shifts sometimes,” she says.

Heer presents bilingually in Punjabi and English. The second half of the show allows callers from across the world to give feedback, request certain topics for future shows.

“I enjoy the fact that I am helping my community in a positive way and I hope I am making an impact on people’s health. Associating health conditions and certain symptoms with nutrition is common practice in my community… Therefore, I know the audience is interested in what I’m saying and I am able to explain symptoms and reiterate the importance of certain lifestyle factors that can prevent or cause health problems.”

She described working on TV as “a positive stress”.

“Just being sat on the sofa with three cameras in front of you is almost terrifying at first. The fact that the show is broadcast live means that I need to be alert and ready to say something in response to my co-host. We do not rehearse and there is no autocue either so we go with the flow. There are moments when I feel as though my mind is going blank, but I cannot just sit there and think when we are live on air.

“Being a pharmacist gives me confidence and helps with my credibility. Because I try to take time with my customers in my role as a pharmacist, I have built up experience that means I know what is important to the public and how to deliver advice,” says Heer.

Read more in The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ October 2016 online, DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201799

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