Degree and University: Masters in Pharmacy, Strathclyde University in Glasgow
Work Title: Relief Pharmacist for Lloydspharmacy Kirkintilloch branch in Glasgow
What do you actually do?
It is like a placement year for pharmacy students where you work in a pharmacy and learn all the proper practice and daily duties of a pharmacist. Like all other years of study, it is assessed with a final examination at the end of the year. During the year a student is appraised on their progress by their pharmacy tutor and given feedback on their performance.
In my current role my responsibilities are broad. I have all kinds of in-store tasks from customer facing services such as dispensing prescriptions and answering customer queries, as well as more managerial roles like participating in stock and finance management.
Why did you decide to go into this sector?
Some of my family work in pharmacy and my older sister also studied it at university. I also worked in pharmacies when I was younger, which confirmed my desire to pursue it as a career. I was particularly interested in community pharmacy, as I liked working with the public and I have a strong interest in health and business principles. This career combined these aspects and that really swayed me.
Would you undertake further training to progress in your career?
Absolutely – in the future. First I’d like to work on gaining more experience and progressing my professional development – hopefully even an internal promotion within Lloydspharmacy, perhaps becoming a store manager then maybe an area manager, and then even a regional manager! Eventually I’d like to study part-time for an MBA in Business while still working and use this qualification to set my sights on a wider legal or financial role in head office.
What do you like most about what you do?
I most enjoy being in a customer service role and at Lloydspharmacy I was lucky enough to have some really exciting experiences. During my pre-reg year I had the opportunity to develop our in-store NHS smoking programme to encourage people to quit smoking and consider the impact smoking was having on their health. As the first point of contact I was responsible for explaining the scheme and signing people up. We went from signing up 3-4 people a month to 60 – it was a massive turnaround. I was also able to spend my time working on a community health project through my work with Lloydspharmacy. We would visit a local housing project and provide free primary healthcare to the residents.
It was a great experience.
Are there any downsides?
More challenges than downsides. When you first start learning ‘proper practice’ it can be rather demanding, as it’s all new but very important. The pressure is strong when you shoulder the responsibility of other people’s health.
What do you think are the most important skills to make a success of pharmacy?
As a community pharmacist a desire to work with the public is very important, and you need to be a good communicator. An interest and understanding of science and clinical skills is also key.
What advice would you give graduates coming into this sector?
Make sure you have done some work experience – particularly demonstrating people skills. Be well organised in yourself and pay attention to detail. For example, I worked in a pharmacy as weekend staff when I was at school and during University I did a summer placement – actually with Lloydspharmacy. Finally, be sure that it’s really what you want to do; it’s hard work, but very rewarding.