On November 10th, I was invited to speak at the Clarity Locums evening in Dublin. Clarity Locums is a fast growing and cost effective pharmacy recruitment agency based in Dublin. Its main aim is to offer value to pharmacies and a better deal for locum pharmacies.
Below is the speech that I gave at the event:
“Good evening everyone, my name is Tomas. Our family run the pharmacy, Conefreys, and is located not far from here. This year sees us in business for 60 years. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Anthony for inviting me to speak tonight.
Over the years, we have engaged the services of a number of locums, and I am always impressed with the newly qualified people I meet. Since my own college days, the degree courses have changed significantly and community pharmacy has evolved as well. As the two sectors merge, we are now able to offer services such as vaccinations, point of care testing and the supply of the morning after pill.
We now a cohort of Community Pharmacists in the workforce with these skills, they have been trained to this way of thinking in college, so these and any subsequent skills become second nature in their jobs.
For an old timer like me, this is a real learning curve. The regular up skilling is a challenge, I must admit, but I enjoy it and it changes my perspective on how things are, and should be done.
But as I mentioned we are in business 60 years, and when I have a newly qualified locum on the job, I have expectations. So when a locum walks through my door, what do I expect?
There are the obvious things of course – punctuality, professional demeanor, knowledge of our computer system (as much as possible) and knowledge of the different government schemes.
Then there are the systems and procedures specific to the individual pharmacy: dispensary layout, local arrangements for patients, for example Methadone patients, or patients whose medication may be blister packed.
Extra services such as vaccinations can be learned on site. With SOP’s readily available, this ensures continuity within the dispensary. That said, in every job, there are the little stumbling blocks which catch us out. You learn those the hard way!
This year, Uniphar provided a daily diary, which has become our bible in Conefrey’s. Gone are the days of reams of Post-its. Now we have a way of recording useful information in a designated place.
As an employer, I have a duty towards my locums, and I have to provide a number of things to ensure that they can do their job.
- Access to duty register – sign first thing!
- Cut off and delivery times for wholesalers
- The daily list of patient collections
- List of methadone patients collected that day
- Dispensary software log-in details. Extra computer labels and printer receipt paper readily accessible also.
- Hi-Tech folder available as well as access to GMS prescription and private prescription file.
- Till user details
- CD and Methadone register
- Telephone/Fax/Scanner instructions
- Contact details of local doctors/clinics
- Staff names, and location of kettle!
We never really know what is going to come through our doors on any given day, it’s the joy of working with the public after all. I find it so important to focus on the simple things we can control, such as the above system of work. Other than that, we deal with the curve balls as they are thrown. We do it together as a team.
Since my cap and gown days, technology has advanced so much. We all have smart phones now with apps and so many tools to stay organised. My lifeline app is Evernote. I use it to record everything I do in work, and at home. Gone are the days of photocopiers and filing cabinets bursting at the seams. I now email everything to Evernote, or take a photo and file it away.
My colleague and I recently rearranged the dispensary – we took before and after pictures, which meant we didn’t have to rely on memory putting everything back. I have also been doing some work on our shop shelf layout and have been able to email photos to the relevant people. The app is unlimited in its use, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
While preparing my talk, I was trying to think of one final point to sum everything up. The best advice on being a Community Pharmacist comes not from me, but from my mother – who isn’t a pharmacist by the way. Her philosophy is simply ‘Talk to your Customer’. Four little words, which contain so much wisdom.
If we talk, and really listen to our customers we can help each other so much. When the pressure is on, and those curve balls I spoke about are flying, don’t shy away with the head down, just talk to your customers. They will help you through.