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A Day In The Life of A Dispenser

Outpatient Pharmacy plays a vital role in how the trust functions. Usually it's the last piece of the puzzle in the patient experience. We spoke to Alice Jennings a Senior Dispenser and Stop Smoking Advisor here at QEF. She explains:

“Job roles vary from dispensing prescriptions to face to face patient care, speaking with doctors to ensure the correct and best suited medication is given to patients, assisting the North East Ambulance Service team with the assembly of ambulance bags, organising delivery of medications, dispensing chemotherapy prescriptions and last but not least the tobacco dependency service.

My main responsibility at the moment is running the Tobacco Dependancy service, since the start of the pandemic we’ve moved from face-to-face consultations to telephone appointments. Despite the change we have found this to work just as well, if not better. Patients now receive weekly phone calls whereas face to face appointments were previously limited to fortnightly or even monthly. When it comes to any other responsibilities, not a massive amount has changed for us at outpatient pharmacy. We still come to work, we still see patients. Everyone still needs their medication, so we carry on as before. There have been COVID measures put in place that we have to adhere to but the day to day running of things has stayed the same.

Our pharmacy team consists of 18 members, four of which are also Stop Smoking advisors. Every employee has a role just as important as the other. We all pride ourselves on patient care and giving an honest, trustworthy and efficient service. Our role is integral in the running of the Trust. We are often the last service a patient deals with during their time in the hospital. The patient may have received bad news that day, be feeling very unwell or going through a hard time and we really do try our hardest to be understanding and as helpful as we can be while making up their prescriptions. Our part is not easy although we work hard every day to make sure the patient does not see that.

For those who have never worked in pharmacy all I can say is it is not as simple as picking a box off a shelf. We calculate doses, we physically make up preparations of some medicines, we often discover interactions or warnings otherwise not mentioned previously. Everything we do is with the patient's safety in mind. Preparing prescriptions is a huge responsibility and not something we can safely do within a minute or two. It takes time and skill, skills we have learnt while gaining in depth qualifications and time we have spent gaining experience in pharmacy. Our jobs are integral and support and patience from others is more important than I imagine most people realise.

I do love my job. Pharmacy creates challenges every day, whether it be learning something new about a medication, keeping up to date with new guidance in the pharmacy community or being given a new responsibility to take on. Working here has help me build upon skills I already have and also given me opportunity to grow. I also love building relationships with my stop smoking patients, speaking with them every week while helping them quit smoking, I build a trusting and friendly relationship with each person. I feel a massive sense of pride when I manage to help someone quit; knowing that I may have changed their lives forever and certainly benefited their health hugely.”

At the end of our interview we asked Alice, What would you say to someone considering a career in your role?

“I would say if you genuinely care about people, have patience, a strong mind and willing to learn every day that you are at work, then pharmacy is for you. Every aspect of pharmacy life will challenge you and especially at QEF you will find you are encouraged to work beyond where you ever thought you could before.”


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