Hi Melissa! Tell us about you and your career so far...
My name is Melissa, I’m a Community Pharmacist based in London. I started my career journey with Boots as soon as I qualified in 2018.
In the last two years, I’ve had 5 role changes - I started as a Newly Qualified Relief Pharmacist, before taking on extra responsibility as a Store Based Pharmacist, then I worked with NHS 111 during the peak of the pandemic as Boots stepped up to help the NHS, back to being store based, and more recently, I’ve taken on the role of Clinical Lead COVID Vaccinator which I’m looking forward to starting.
Tell us about your experience so far as a Boots Pharmacist...
One reason why I enjoy being a Pharmacist at Boots is that there is always a new opportunity for you. The experiences I’ve had over the last two years have been invaluable - with every role change comes a new set of responsibilities, working within new teams, adapting to change and overcoming new challenges.
Another reason why I enjoy my job is that there is always someone to turn to, and you never feel alone. My line manager and area manager have supported me throughout each role, have believed in me every step of the way, and have listened to any concerns that I had. Not only have my team supported me in my usual day to day role, but crucially, they continue to support me outside of work and with my Instagram account. This was initially something I felt anxious about starting as I wasn’t sure how it would come across to my employer! However, I quickly realised that my managers did nothing but support me and more recently, the Boots PR team got in touch with me to start working on their social media accounts with them. I filmed a short take on ‘Maskne’ in collaboration with Boots to give our top tips which was shared on our internal and external social channels.
What is important to you as a Pharmacist?
As a pharmacist working tirelessly through the pandemic, I feel it’s important to talk about our achievements and what we do day-to-day. There are many myths and stereotypes that we unfortunately still face around the role of a pharmacist and what our teams do. I use my Instagram page to talk about some of these things and hope to educate on the importance of our role. Typically, a lot of our work is unseen - we do most of our work behind-the-scenes. Whether that’s communicating with GPs, ordering repeat medication, taking on extra services such as COVID testing and vaccines, sourcing out of stock medication and suitable alternatives, to picking up and rectifying potentially serious drug errors daily.
I am passionate about educating the public on our role. Equally, I think it’s important that especially over the last year, Pharmacists create working environments that prevent burnout and to ask for help when they need it. Working hard is important but it's even more important to take care of ourselves and our teams. It’s so important to check-in on each other, and the rest of the team. I believe when we create the best versions of ourselves, that our patients will in turn get the best level of care from us.
Is Community Pharmacy very Clinical?
It can be surprising to some that community pharmacists also do a lot of clinical work - I know I speak on behalf of all community pharmacists when say, I clinically screen every single prescription for their clinical appropriateness. It’s a vital part of our job and rarely a day goes by where I haven’t made any clinical interventions. Whether that’s inappropriate prescribing of opioids and benzodiazepines, correct antibiotic use and duration, high risk medication such as insulin and methotrexate, children doses, drugs in pregnancy or drug interactions. Another clinical issue we face in community is the risk of delaying therapy and use of emergency supplies. The most important part of our job is making sure every decision we make is clinically safe for our patients.
Tell us more about the ongoing projects where you will be a Clinical Lead COVID Vaccinator...
Over the last few weeks, our store has been getting ready to go live on the COVID Vaccination hub. This is something I feel honoured to be a part of - being able to support our patients through this last hurdle. A lot of the work so far has been training myself, my colleagues, lots of meetings, setting up our paperwork, ensuring our dispensary is organised, clutter-free and meeting specific requirements according to the latest SOPs and professional standards. We are also in the middle of recruiting new team members and we will be carrying out training days, so everyone feels confident. Our frontline pharmacy team have been busier than ever - and have really shone through this pandemic, by stepping up to the challenge and serving their local communities. We really hope this service is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Thank you Mel for your time in collaborating on this article! We thank you for all your hard work and dedication over the past few years and we wish you all the best in your new Clinical Lead COVID Vaccinator role!