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  • Writer's pictureDavid Harper

How To Be A Pharmacist In 2016

Twenty years ago being a pharmacist was about as straightforward as an arrowhead. You checked, dispensed and stocked medicines. Perhaps you’d occasionally be called upon to offer some advice or manage supply incomes with books rather than desktop computers.

However times have changed. Pharmacists are required to be more versatile, more variable and able to multi-task than ever before, meaning the average pharmacist whether locum or in-house, could benefit from expanding their knowledge base to cater for a new level of expectation placed on them by an influx of changing customer demand.

With waiting lists for a Doctor’s appointment at an all-time, two week high the public are being encouraged to firstly approach a pharmacist with common ailments that could potentially be treated by OTC medicines. In addition, patients with allergies and sexual concerns are also being encouraged to go to pharmacists first, as the government is pushing to reduce waiting lists in the wake of severe austerity measures that have pushed the NHS to its breaking point.

With so many members of the public being encouraged to see their pharmacists into the new year and the physical reforms of pharmacies to include in-house consultation rooms, the pharmacy has morphed from its origins of ‘the place to pick up medicines’ to a hub of health concern and advice.

What You Can Do

The first and foremost concern must and will always be to the customer’s well-being. If a customer approaches you with symptoms or concerns that you are either a) unsure of or b) aware that they’ll require prescription only medication then a small bit of advice about how to relieve the symptoms whilst they await the Doctor’s appointment is all you can do.

However, 40% of all GP appointments in the UK are for common illnesses and ailments that can be treated by OTC medications. It is these patients that are being encouraged to visit their pharmacist so for the locum amongst us, brushing up on diagnosis of common illnesses such as:

  1. Colds

  2. Flu

  3. Rashes

  4. Allergic Reactions

  5. and minor infections

…  could prove to be a huge box to tick in increasing your value as a locum and earning a favourite status from us for any particular location you may be working. Remember, we consistently hunt for feedback from all pharmacies about our locums’ performances in any given job. Consistently good feedback earns a favourite status and you will be placed as a priority for that particular location for future work.

Another tip is to become qualified for enhanced services. This is another feather we place in the cap of our locums and if you are capable of providing NHS flu jabs on-site, it’s an immediate solution to some customer’s needs and will make you very valuable indeed.


The answer to the question ‘How to be a pharmacist in 2016?’ is, by-the-by, the answer to the question ‘How to be helpful to the people?’.

The service provided by pharmacists and locums in years gone by was a simple one and yet was equally all that was demanded of them. Dispensing and signing off drugs used to be a fairly independent and detached process. You put the medicine in a bag with a sticker, called a name, handed it over and that was that.

In 2016, a greater element of customer service has crept in to the pharmacist’s job. Customers aren’t just coming to the pharmacy for medicines anymore. They’re coming for advice. A lot of the time, they could be concerned, stricken and worried for their health.

Knowing how to best advise and address their concerns, whilst reassuring them about their health is going to be a massive plus in the overall scheme of customer satisfaction and positive reviews. Ultimately, if the customers are reviewing you with satisfaction to the pharmacy, the pharmacy will review you likewise to us.

Equally, and crucially, the flipside of negative reviews are true. It’s legitimately the difference between being a favourite locum and not. So if more work is your goal, the answer to the question of how to be a pharmacist in 2016 is three-fold:

  1. Help The Customer

  2. Help The Pharmacy

  3. Help Yourself.

By following some of the steps in this blog, you’ll be off to a good start.

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