My 12-year-old daughter was asked to write a poem at school this week about an inspirational woman who ‘stood her ground’. She chose Rosa Parks, a woman who sat down to stand her ground. I smiled as I thought of all the inspirational women I know who stand up every day in community pharmacies across the UK.
My name is Anne Higgins. I’m the mother of Claire – the budding poet – Sinead and Conor, a wife to Matthew, and I’m the Boots UK stores director for pharmacy. I’m also very proud to say I’ve been a community pharmacist for 21 years.
In my role, I see and meet pharmacists who are working in Boots branches across the country in a range of communities.
The role of the community pharmacist is inspirational. When patients see that green cross, they know they can access our help, support, and expertise. Pharmacists are the beacon, the pillar, the medicines expert, the counsellor, and the person who improves the health of the people in their community.
It’s a unique and powerful role. Pharmacists positively impact the lives of people in so many ways. For International Women’s Day on March 8, I want to take the time to champion and celebrate this wonderful role.
When I started out as a community pharmacist, the role was much less diverse than it is today. Pharmacists are true medicines experts balancing supply, advice, health promotion and a multitude of services. They help people to live well and stay well.
So, what advice would I give to inspirational, powerful women commencing their career in pharmacy? Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:
Firstly, stay you. I think it’s so important to hold true to who you are and to what you believe in. Patients come in to see you, so bring yourself and your personality to work. That way you can connect well with others.
Secondly, find your passion. You have to enjoy what you do. Whether it’s reviewing and offering patients advice about their medicines, healthy lifestyle promotion or providing clinical services, it’s important to enjoy your work. Your pleasure will permeate through to others.
Thirdly, be confident. Sometimes self-doubt or a lack of confidence can hold us back from realising our potential. I came across a phrase from ‘The Little Engine That Could’. It’s a fairytale about a little engine that, through the power of self-belief, could achieve more than a big train. I have always found it an inspiration for myself and for my children: Maybe it can be one for you too.
The phrase goes: ‘I think I can, I think I can, I think I have a plan and I can do most anything if I only think I can’
Anne Higgins is director of stores for pharmacy at Boots