Like many people, Brad Young’s first job was a job for jobs-sake – a necessity when he left school – but it soon became clear to him that working in pharmacy wouldn’t be just a first job, but a career.
Brad began his pharmacy journey at just 17 years of age in LloydsPharmacy in Hemel Hempstead and then moved to an independent pharmacy where he achieved his level 2 dispensing assistant qualification. Before settling into his current position, Brad also worked for a patient medication record (PMR) systems company “doing all the informatics stuff for pharmacies”. But he soon saw that his true calling lay in community pharmacy and so returned to Lloyds. “I realised that I needed to be patient based and I needed to have face-to-face contact with patients again”, he explains.
They say variety is the spice of life and that’s certainly the case for Brad. In his current position as dispensing assistant, his day-to-day responsibilities include dispensing, of course, but the role also has a rather unique aspect – one which allows him to provide support to a whole other community than the one that visits the branch.
It’s not just giving medication to a man and going ‘alright, see ya later!’
Three days a week Brad heads over to HM Prison The Mount, a Category C men’s prison in Hertfordshire, and provides pharmacy services there, along with a pharmacist.
“It’s good fun, it is very different,” Brad explains. “It’s really nice to have the mixture between community pharmacy and pharmacy in a secure environment”. His main responsibilities include dispensing the medicines at the pharmacy and then issuing the medication within the prison, before recording all the relevant data.
Brad says: “Some of the men need to have supervised medication so they come and see us twice a day. The pharmacist will administer their drugs and then we have to document everything and what we are giving them. It’s quite an admin role, it’s not just giving medication to a man and going ‘alright, see ya later!’”
A lot of Brad’s work at the prison is very similar to what he does in community pharmacy, but there are a few differences, he explains. “You have different stresses like when you’ve got new receptions [patients in the secure environment], sometimes they’ll come in and they’re on medication but there’s no medication that has been sent with them and then you’ve got to get urgent prescriptions done. You’re doing all of this at the same time as seeing the men and doing admin work, but we just take it in our stride”.
For Brad, his job is just providing a service and he doesn’t often think about the differences between the community pharmacy and the prison: “You’re doing exactly the same thing as what you’re doing on the outside, you just happen to be in a secure environment with men that have been put in prison. But they need the same healthcare as people do on the outside so we just look at them exactly the same. It doesn’t faze me at all.”
People say I’m crazy because I like to work here, but it’s different and I do enjoy it
Brad certainly demonstrates a genuine interest in his role in both community pharmacy and the prison, often taking the time to learn about the medicines he is dispensing. “I like to know what the medicine is doing and I really look into it, rather than just dispensing a drug for someone, I want to know why they are taking this medication”, he explains. “It’s not that I’m being nosey, I take an interest in it. If a patient comes in with queries about side effects, for example, I want to be able to help them.”
Although he is frequently in and out of the pharmacy, Brad still likes to get involved in campaigns where he can, especially those where he has direct experience. Brad says: “We did have a diabetes campaign not that long ago and, myself, I’m type 1 diabetic and I know what other diabetics feel like, so to speak, because I suffer with it as well. I like to get involved in stuff that’s diabetes related. People come in to have their blood sugar checked and I’ll sit them down in consultation room and we will have a chat and I feel like they really like it because I understand what they’re going through”.
In the future Brad says he wants to complete his level 3 pharmacy technician qualification and progress onto an accuracy checking technician (ACT) course. One day, Brad hopes to also have his own team to manage: “I would want to potentially have my own branch, manage some sort of team or be an area coach. I am a people person and I’d like to get in at the deep end, I’m a bit of a problem solver as well.”
That said, Brad’s role in the prison has shown him a side to dispensing he can’t ever see himself not being a part of and he wants to remain working in the secure environment too. He says: “People say I’m crazy because I like to work here, but it’s different and I do enjoy it”.