From helping launch global groundbreaking medicines to administering the groundbreaking COVID-19 vaccines, life has gone full circle for Mary Ballantyne.
Now she’s urging people to “roll up their sleeve” and not be reticent about getting their vaccine.
Mary, from Forfar, returned to work as a registered nurse with the NHS last year in the fight against COVID-19 and is currently working in NHS Tayside’s Immunisation Team.
The move sees the 59–year–old returning to her roots. She brings with her an impressive list of achievements from her professional career, which she feels has put her in the right place at the right time to help and reassure others.
She said: “I was on duty the night of the Lockerbie plane crash. None of us went home, we stayed to help, feeling a sense of trepidation of what was to come.
“We waited and waited that night to treat the passengers and crew but tragically of course, they didn’t survive.
“That was one night – this year we have been waiting every day with the same trepidation of what might come next.
“For my colleagues and myself that has been very difficult.
“We all kept going, we did our best every day and tried our best not to be fearful.”
Mary’s career background, which has included working in the pharmaceutical industry, gave her a unique perspective on the vaccine development and roll-out.
“I worked for Pfizer and the pharmaceutical industry for many years and knew how hard they would be working.
“Now we have the vaccines and the news of the vaccine roll-out numbers. That has been a real positive effect for all of us.”
Mary has an impressive career history which began as a nurse in the NHS working in Glasgow in critical care areas including operating theatres.
When she moved to work in the USA, she was part of a groundbreaking team who developed new technologies and surgical techniques including the Laparoscopic “keyhole” surgery.
This work is currently being showcased in Dundee Science Centre’s Medical Marvels exhibition.
Her work in the pharmaceutical industry saw her involved in the launch of groundbreaking medicines including Statins, Viagra and Prozac.
Just some of her other career highlights include a successful academic career. Her work with Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland as a Trustee and Board member, and business achievements saw her win several Courier Business Awards over the years.
People at heart
But it was her pharmaceutical background, coupled with her ability to put people at the heart of everything she does, which has proved useful this year.
“Being part of the immunisation team has been humbling and I’ve found it a real privilege to be a part of it.
“When we started to see people coming in, many of them elderly, they had dressed up, some brought gifts, everyone had a story to tell about how Covid-19 had impacted them.
“Many hadn’t seen anyone for a long time. To be able to give them a reassurance that this needle going in their arm would mean a return to some level of normality was a lovely experience.
“It’s important we all roll up our sleeves. I have always wanted to improve the human condition and be part of the solution and this year has given me the chance to do just that.”