In late February, I arrived at C+D to take charge of the features section, while deputy editor Lilian Anekwe was on a leave of absence. I’d worked for medical journals, local newspapers and women’s magazines, but the world of community pharmacy was new territory.
On my last day in the hot seat, I reflected on what I’ve learned about pharmacists.
1) You are passionate about your profession – and rightly so
One of my tasks was to read the profiles for the C+D Awards shortlists and winners – and I was impressed by the dedication, innovation and commitment on display. Pharmacy is truly on the frontline of healthcare and pushing those boundaries every day.
2) You deliver medicines for free!
How did I not know about this? But, understandably, you don’t want people like me, who are perfectly capable of popping down to the pharmacy myself, using this service. Deliveries are a lifeline for people with restricted mobility and if the service is abused, it will disappear.
3) You call us patients, not customers, and get really upset if people mention that you sell shampoo and sandwiches...
...even though some of you sell shampoo and sandwiches. Coming from a family of shop-keepers, I’m not sure why the shop-keeping side of community pharmacy is sometimes seen as an embarrassment. Professionalism isn’t incompatible with retail business.
4) You do an awful lot more than dispense medicines
Travel health, flu jabs, supervised methadone clinics, blood pressure testing – pharmacies offer a much wider range of healthcare services than I realised when I started this job. I’ll know where to go, next time I want to avoid the queue for my GP surgery.
5) You really don’t like homeopathy
I’m with you on that, but I didn’t know how strongly most pharmacists felt about it. It’s good to know how firmly the pharmacy profession upholds the values of evidence-based medicine.
6) Drastic funding cuts to the sector have caused real pain
They’ve affected contractors forgoing salaries to protect their businesses, locums struggling to maintain salary levels and pharmacy employees faced with staff shortages, workload pressures and redundancies. By and large, the general public doesn’t hear about this – and they might not notice until pharmacies start to close.
7) You’re lucky to have a small but dedicated team of journalists producing C+D
Whether they’re reporting the news, interviewing industry figures, hosting awards ceremonies, digging through data or holding the government to account, they work hard for the sector. I’ve been so impressed by the thoughtfulness and knowledge of the editorial team I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
Community pharmacy has a worthy champion in C+D.