Ask anyone who works in a community pharmacy in their home town and they will probably agree that it’s one of the best jobs in the world. That’s most certainly true for Rose Rekhy, medicines counter assistant at Right Medicine Pharmacy in the village of Brora in the Scottish Highlands.
Rose’s first week at the pharmacy, in May 2004, came as a bit of a shock. “I hadn’t realised how much you need to know,” she says. “Not just about the medicines and procedures, but also about people.” Rose had previously worked in a clothes shop, so she was used to working in retail, but pharmacy was a world apart.
“When people came into the clothes shop, they’d be in a very different frame of mind to the people coming into the pharmacy, who were possibly worried and anxious,” she says. As someone who likes a challenge, however, Rose decided to stick it out for a bit. “I’m still here and this is one of the best jobs I’ve ever had,” she enthuses.
Rose’s nomination for the Counter Intelligence Award came from Right Medicine Pharmacy area support manager Nadine MacKay, who describes Rose as “caring, helpful and dedicated”. And this dedication is certainly evident with the amount of training she has completed. This includes the NPA Pharmacy Interact course, almost 50 modules from the NPA hub, and, of course, the monthly training that comes with Training Matters.
The knowledge Rose has gained made her a perfect choice for winning the category. “Rose is on the ball with knowing what to recommend for ailments and is also good at spotting when someone is just not right, leading to her engaging them in discussion on a private basis to get to the bottom of it,” says Nadine. “Many occasions have seen Rose’s interaction result in a GP appointment and a massive help to the patient.”
One such occasion saw a customer come to the pharmacy with a discoloured area on her nose. “She was really embarrassed. Not because she had this mark, but because she felt she was wasting our time,” Rose explains. “I took her to one side and during the course of the conversation, I learned that she had had this for two-and-a-half months.”
Rose said “alarm bells rang” because she knew the customer had been brought up in Australia and had had a lot of sun exposure. “She said it felt like a burning sensation, but wasn’t sore,” continues Rose. She asked the customer what treatment she had tried and when the response was a perfumed moisturiser, Rose suggested she stop using this, asked a few more questions and then involved the pharmacist.
In the end, after a referral to the GP, the customer was diagnosed with a fungal infection and the customer came back to the pharmacy the next day with a prescription for treatment. “She was so grateful,” says Rose. “She’d had her head in the sand, not wanting to face up to the issue.”
Rose says that with new team members in the pharmacy, she always tries to impress on them that it is worth sticking with training. “You don’t realise how much you know until you find yourself able to help someone with your knowledge and that customer will come back again and again,” she explains.
Choosing her as the winner in this category, judge and superintendent pharmacist at M J Williams Pharmacy Ade Williams said: “Rose reminds us that the pharmacy counter is a gateway to evidence-led care and expert knowledge. Most often this is not provided by a pharmacist, but by a trained communicator with knowledge.”
"It feels lovely, to be honest! I feel a bit guilty because it is definitely a team effort – you couldn’t do your job without everyone behind you – but it does feel really nice that somebody thinks that I deserve something like this".