I TALK to many pharmacists and believe I have met a few ‘real’ community pharmacists. What I mean, is that they talk the talk and they walk the walk – they have developed an understanding of community pharmacy practice. Surprisingly, age doesn’t matter. Some were just starting out on their careers and others heading towards the end of theirs, but it’s understanding and passion that counts, not age.
So, what sets these people apart? Here are are some quotes from pharmacists that will help explain what I mean:
- “I am located on the counter, I have delegated all dispensing to my team, so that every prescription comes in through me and out through me. My customers know me and I know them.”
- “I create time to talk to my customers, check their understanding, ask about their progress and offer some help and advice about associated symptoms and other common complaints. I usually do this while their prescription is being expertly dispensed. I try to be proactive in helping them.”
- “I haven’t sold a perfume or lipstick for years – I simply don’t stock them. Everything I stock is related to healthcare. I maintain a professional healthcare environment.”
- “I sell some special products that I believe are beneficial. I always ask how people get on with the treatment that I have offered. It builds the relationship and I learn, which means I can adjust my advice and the products I source to fit customer needs. You have to keep learning.”
- “My local general practice asks me for pharmaceutical advice – of course they pay – they get good value from me and they know it.”
- “I take on services that are commissioned – I like to be one of the high performing pharmacies. They often come to me to pilot new services before they are offered more widely.”
- “I love being a pharmacist – my profession allows me to make a real impact on people’s lives.”
I don’t pretend that such exposure on the front line is easy – it’s certainly not. Pharmacists who tell me that they have to know about everything they sell, and pharmacists who tell me that working with patients is the most exciting part about being a pharmacist, are my sort of pharmacists.
Mark Robinson is Medicines Optimisation Advisor at NHS Alliance, and director at the Medicines Management Partnership and Connect2Pharma