Lisa Carr’s pharmacy journey began in 1999 when she took on a post as a Saturday girl at Woodhatch Pharmacy – a member of SG Court Pharmacy Group – in Reigate, at the tender age of 14. The flexibility of the role meant Lisa could learn on the job while continuing with her schoolwork and, remarkably, she completed her medicines counter assistant (MCA) training at the same time as passing her A Levels.
Lisa had no intentions of ending her studies there and went on to gain a BTEC in pharmacy services and sciences, which, thanks to a grant from Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, she followed up with a foundation degree in medicines management from Medway School of Pharmacy, together with a pharmacy technician course in 2005. With her passion for training and knowledge still strong, Lisa went on to qualify as an accuracy checking technician (ACT) in 2009.
“I have been in pharmacy for a total of 17 years now, with just one year out to start a family. I began at the bottom and worked my way up,” says Lisa. “My degree course involved 10 study days at the university, while the rest was online training and assignments that I did at home or at work, fitting it in around everything else and juggling all my different roles.”
Shortly before qualifying as an ACT, Lisa relocated to Townsend Pharmacy, also part of the SG Court Pharmacy Group, where she is now a senior staff member.
As an ACT, Lisa’s duties consist of carrying out the final accuracy check on prescriptions after pharmacist Stephen Smullen has done the clinical check, and preparing weekly medicines management trays. Her role also involves managing a team of delivery drivers who collect prescriptions from seven GP surgeries each day and deliver medicines to care homes and patients in the community. In addition, Lisa processes prescriptions that come in via the electronic prescription service (EPS) and sorts out the pharmacy’s monthly reimbursement and remuneration claims.
As Townsend Pharmacy processes a heavy prescription volume of 10,000 items per month, having someone as capable as Lisa on the dispensary team is a real asset, according to Stephen. “Lisa is very professional and has a loyal team of dispensers, counter assistants and drivers who work under her, and like all of us, she is fastidious about working in a clear, tidy, uncluttered and clean environment,” he says.
Along with her extensive duties in the dispensary, Lisa spends much of her day interacting with customers. Having been a familiar face at the pharmacy for the last seven years, as well as living locally, means that her customers really trust the advice she gives them.
“Over the years, I have got to know many of our customers by their first names. We have lots of elderly patients who pop in for a chat as well as lots of young mums in the area,” says Lisa.
During any patient interaction, Lisa always does her best to resolve a patient’s problems and is mindful of when she needs to refer to Stephen. The value of this attitude was recently demonstrated by an episode in the pharmacy in which Lisa helped get to the root of a patient’s symptoms through careful questioning. “A lady came in who was feeling ‘a bit funny’, so I measured her blood pressure and it was a little high. She told me that she had recently switched to a different medicine for her epilepsy, so I referred her to Stephen for an MUR,” Lisa recounts. “She has since gone back to her doctor, who has changed her medicines and the problem has now been resolved. That part of the job is very rewarding. Seeing people get better and their condition improving, that’s my favourite part of the job,” says Lisa.
According to Lisa, good teamwork is essential to the smooth running of the pharmacy, combined with clear procedures and systems to help everyone keep on top of their daily tasks.
“We all rely on each other and have a rota system to manage our daily jobs. We are a small team and it’s important to share out the work, so while one person is preparing medicines trays, another will be out the front assisting patients,” she explains.
It also helps that Lisa and the team receive plenty of opportunities to keep on learning and developing. Several staff members are about to start training to become pharmacy technicians or ACTs, while Lisa is looking forward to embarking on an NVQ in leadership in a few months’ time. “I’m hoping the course will build my confidence and help me to manage the team better,” she says. “I also hope to be able to mentor the other members of the team through their training.”
Stephen is full of praise for how much Lisa has achieved during her pharmacy career so far, and is fully committed to supporting her to get the best out of everyone else.
“She is very patient orientated and always ensures that the patient is offered an excellent service. She is knowledgeable but knows where to go to if she hasn’t got an answer, which results in patients leaving happy and always coming back,” he enthuses. “She is a highly valued colleague and I cannot speak highly enough of her.”
We all rely on each other and have a rota system to manage our daily jobs