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Boots executive: My advice for women starting their career in pharmacy

“Patients come in to see you, so bring yourself and your personality to work”

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Boots director of stores Anne Higgins offers her top three pieces of advice for women starting their career in pharmacy

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


Bob Dunkley, Locum pharmacist

Well - at least she's a pharmacist and not some faceless Boots suit job. 

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

*thanks for censoring c&d. Last time I looked at UK laws this country still has freedom of speech. 

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

This article it would seem has not been very well received.

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

What a load of utter b~~~~~~t  this article is...pass the sick bucket

Alasdair Morrison, Product Development

I'm sure the author didn't intend to equate Rosa Parks' historic stand against racism and segregation with... working as a pharmacist. Because I don't think the challenges she faced in her life were *quite* the same.

Industry Pharmacist, Head/Senior Manager

More neo-feminism shoved down our throat. YAWN.

Sarah Smythe, Information Technology

Definitely DON'T choose Pharmacy and if  you are already on that path and for whatever reason cannot change, DO NOT WORK FOR BOOTS. They use Performance Management to oust people that do not fit well within their parameters and make their life sheer hell till they resign or have a breakdown . 

Z Rafiq, Community pharmacist

An interesting article. In my experience of working in a pharmacy I would advise anyone wanting to start in community pharmacy to stop and actually speak to someone who works as a community pharmacist in any branch. Once they have spoken then they can return to their studies to become a doctor, engineer or any other profession that has more respect, remuneration and quality of life then a community pharmacist. Whether your a contractor or a Locum in community, the last few years have permanently damaged our sector and I don't see things changing for the better anytime soon.

locum norfolk, Locum pharmacist

been a long time since ive seem something on here worthy of replying to... Rafiq you are spot on! Many will reflect in a decades time and see the game that was being played in community pharmacy over the previous 2 decades.. the smart money has left

A Long Serving Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

If you must be a pharmacist then DON'T work in the community. Mostly my advice would be 'Take your very good science degree and do something else'.



Arun Bains, Community pharmacist

Unfortunately many a pharmacist has found out that Boots do not practice what they preach. 

Tired Manager, Community pharmacist

Surely this should be a one word article: "Don't"

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

My advice for all (not just women) starting their career in pharmacy: Stay well away from Boots then you will have a good start. Boots cares about nothing but money, profit and targets. Patient care? Staff care? Treatment outcomes? All goes out of the window straightaway and are all dispensable in making profits for the incompetent management at the top, likely including the writer of this article.

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

Will there be a guide for men, people of colour, disabled etc... ?

*This article has been edited to comply with C+D's community principles

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

I find titles to articles like this very sexist. Why not advice for pharmacists... why just women?

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