A keen desire to have more interactions with customers spurred Emily Cassidy on to move into a role in the pharmacy team.
“I did express interest in the pharmacy because when you’re working there, there’s obviously more time to spend with customers,” she explains. After a month working as a customer advisor, the shop manager asked Emily if she’d like to transition to the pharmacy. “Initially, I was left between the two, going back and forth but then I made the decision,” she says. “It was definitely an adjustment because our pharmacy is very, very busy, so I knew it was going to be a challenge. It did take me a while to adjust, but now that I am where I am, I couldn’t be happier.”
Pharmacy in demand
As a pharmacy advisor, Emily spends the majority of her time working on the health care counter. “That includes anything from giving out health care advice on our products, handing out prescriptions, doing repeat forms for customers and talking to our patients,” she says.
“I’ve also been dispensing a lot more because I recently finished my training. I love doing a bit of both and I’m always happy to do whatever they need me to do. I like to learn new things, so I wanted a new skill and just to develop a bit more. I do love the dispensing and the more I do it, I definitely feel more comfortable.”
The pharmacy also offers a lot of services and, particularly since the pandemic, these have proven to be very popular with customers. “At the minute, we’re running the flu jab and trying to get a lot of our customers to sign up,” says Emily. “We’re actually doing a challenge where we see how many customers we can sign up to the service in one day, so that’s been quite good.” The uptake has been high and Emily believes the service is popular in the pharmacy again due to more customers wanting to get the vaccine since the Covid pandemic.
As in most places across the UK, Emily explains that it is also difficult for people to be seen by a GP in Northern Ireland and so the pharmacy’s minor ailment service is in high demand. “There’s a handful of conditions, such as oral thrush for example, where you actually get a lot of treatments over-the-counter,” she says. “We can write up a prescription and then they can get the treatment through the minor ailments scheme. There’s no charge on that service so it’s great because it saves patients a lot of hassle for something very simple that we can help them directly with. That service is definitely being used a lot.”
Never too busy
Situated in a retail park in Derry, the Boots pharmacy that Emily works for has a constant stream of people coming in and out, from regular customers to walk-ins. Even though the pharmacy is busy Emily strives to give every customer her full attention and treat them as individuals first and foremost.
“We are very busy, but this doesn’t make a difference to our patient care,” she explains. “The way I always try to look at it is that you’re dealing with the person in front of you and then you always do have the support of the team as well. You never feel like you have to rush with a customer to get to the rest of the people waiting because there’s always people who can jump on to the health counter as well.
“We never want any patient to leave thinking they haven’t got the full care that they should be getting. Even though it’s very, very busy, I think everybody as a team manages it quite well.”
It is this fast-paced environment that Emily feels makes her career in the pharmacy so special. “Working in pharmacy, every day is so different so it’s never a case that when you come into work, you’re constantly looking at the clock waiting to go home because your day is just so full and you’re always kept busy,” she says. “There will be times when you give someone advice and then few weeks later, they would come back and tell you that that really worked for them. That’s probably my favourite part, the feel good factor of knowing you’ve helped someone.”
Having just completed her course, Emily hopes to spend more time focusing on dispensing and growing her confidence in that area. “Maybe in a few years I could look at doing something else like a pharmacy technician course,” she says. “Anything to develop my skills that little bit more.”