I am passionate about pharmacy, my career has spanned 35 years (I really don’t feel old enough!!). How lucky am I to have chosen a career that I love so much and have found so rewarding.
It has taken me from working for a large retail chain of pharmacies to a GP practice where I am currently the dispensary manager.
So what is my view on the differences between the two worlds of retail and primary care?
Working for a large retail chain set me on the road to high standards of practice. I worked with many gifted pharmacists who I learnt so much from. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) were drummed into me and they were the baseline of my practice today. It gave me many opportunities to expand my horizons, training care home staff on medication administration, managing a care home services department and I registered with the RPSGB and obtained my accuracy checking qualification along the way.
My work is life now in a GP practice.
Four years ago I jumped ship to primary care. I needed a new challenge having become bored. Retail pharmacy is a tough environment. I experienced short staffing and massive workloads.
Whilst the basics of being in a dispensary environment are the same, the variation of work that I’m now involved in is a fundamental shift from retail.
I now do patient dispensing reviews of medication (DRUMs). Basically, I check with patients that they fully understand what their medicines are for, if they are taking them correctly and if there’s any waste involved.
I am leading our CCG initiative – Medicine Optimisation Locality Scheme (MOLES), so the GPs heavily rely on my advice to know what particular drugs are preferable to prescribe in line with our CCG recommendations. Discharge letters now come through the dispensary first so there are no delays in getting patient’s medication updated after a hospital stay. My practice is one of the highest performing non-pharmacist surgeries which I am really proud of.
I prepared our dispensary for our first CQC inspection, making sure the SOPs were all up-to-date and we were fully compliant with their expectations. I must have been the only person in the practice who was excited to have my procedures checked, it was nerve-wracking though.
When patients order their medication we are constantly looking at the alerts and calling them in for BP, blood tests and even offering flu vaccines, it’s so much more than just issuing a prescription.
I am passionate about value for money and am responsible for ordering the medication. It is a constant juggle to obtain the cheapest stock from different suppliers while ensuring patients receive what they need.
So, in summary, I find the main difference is the variation in my roles and responsibilities in a GP practice compared to retail. Whilst both are highly pressured roles I feel a lot more job satisfaction in my current role.
However, the most important element to dispensing activity wherever you work is attention to detail.
That has been my mantra along the way.
Lynne Canning has been a registered pharmacy technician since 2005 and is a member of APTUK. She became an accuracy checking pharmacy technician in 2007. She is currently dispensary manager at Hilton House surgery.