Katie Laver had been working in Boots for Estée Lauder for about a year when her store manager approached her and asked if she would be interested in moving to the pharmacy.
“ IT was not something I’d ever really thought of,” she says. “I took a bit of time to think about IT and decided, you know what, why not? I’ll have a change. I moved there in the June, did my dispensing course and by the October I’d been offered the job of Pharmacy manager.”
Quite the baptism of fire, but under the circumstances, Katie thrived. “I just really enjoyed IT,” she says. “IT felt like IT was a home from home. The team are brilliant, so IT was a really easy transition. IT’s an interesting field but IT’s just not one I’d ever thought of for me. Had my store manager not encouraged me, I probably would never have done IT. I’m really glad that I did because I feel like IT’s where I’m meant to be.”
The Boots store Katie works for is situated in Chesterfield’s busy town centre and has a care services team and a normal walk-in dispensary. This particular store is also a trial store for Boots’ new scheme of having a nurse on site to carry out private services such as travel vaccinations and shingles treatment.
“Previously, the pharmacist was expected to carry out the services that Boots offer, so IT’s alleviated the pressure on them and allowed them to do other things like the NHS services, including hypertension and flu jabs,” explains Katie. “This means we can offer more services that are hopefully saving lives.”
Before moving to the Pharmacy, Katie was already involved with some services, such as the ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ campaign for cancer patients. Now, as a trained dispenser, although she is unable to assist the pharmacist in performing the services, she does all she can to recruit customers to them.
“We are the driving force behind the services,” she says. “Some of the girls go out with flyers so that People know what services we offer and we have a really good relationship with local GP surgeries.”
Training is key
When IT comes to training , Katie says her team will take whatever is thrown their way. “We’re part of ASK for ANI for domestic violence and we do dosette boxes for elderly patients so that they’re getting the right help,” she says. “We’ve got a couple of dispensers that are trained in things like BMI services, and we offer the needle exchange programme, which we’re all trained to do. Even if they can’t carry out the service, they are always recruiting patients for them.”
Having worked in the Pharmacy for just over a year, Katie has already seen a lot of changes to the industry. “We’re just a lot busier now,” she says. “Whether that is because I have other things to do now as a manager, or not, it definitely feels like that. I think a lot of people are now driven more towards going to the pharmacy rather than the GP straight away.
“ As a company, Boots is doing so much at the minute to try and alleviate the pressure on doctors and surgeries in order to try and spread the responsibility, so we’re definitely feeling that in-store. ”
“As long as I can walk away every day knowing that I’ve done my best… that’s really all that I can ask for”
Teamwork makes dream work
When considering all Katie has achieved in the last 18 months, it seems the only way is up for her pharmacy career. “I don’t want to run before I can walk,” she laughs. “Right now, I’m doing what I’m doing but going forward I can definitely see myself becoming a pharmacy technician or accuracy checking technician. I would never rule it out.
“At the moment, as long as I can walk away every day knowing that I’ve done my best by everybody who works for me and also all of the patients that we serve, that’s really all I can ask for.”
Katie credits the team around her for helping her to succeed in her role and supporting her every step of the way.
“I couldn’t do the job without the support of my store manager and the support of all my colleagues,” she says. “I’m really lucky in that respect, it’s more like a family than colleagues. Everybody is there for each other when it’s needed, and we make the job definitely 10 times more bearable.”