There are lots of myths about what working in a community pharmacy means and we thought it was time to put the record straight!

Myth: Pharmacists are glorified shopkeepers

Whilst many community pharmacies are based in shops, pharmacy is a highly technical and regulated profession. Pharmacists are experts in medicines. Before qualifying as a pharmacist, trainees must complete a 4-year pharmacy degree and undertake a year of on-the-job training.

Myth: Pharmacists don’t speak to or interact with patients

Community pharmacies are at the centre of communities and for many people their pharmacist is their first point of contact with health care services.

Pharmacists and pharmacy team members speak to patients every day. Being able to communicate clearly and confidently is an essential skill for anyone working in a community pharmacy team.

These skills have been shown to be particularly important during the pandemic, when pharmacy teams have played a crucial role in supporting patients.

“Even people who don’t trust the vaccine do trust their local pharmacist and will have a dialogue with them. From my experience, it’s really important to give my patients the time and opportunity to talk openly about their health beliefs. I’ve had many patients ask my opinion on the COVID-19 vaccine and in particular the safety and efficacy of it.”

Pharmacist, Sutton

Myth: Community pharmacists spend all of their time counting medicines

Community pharmacy is so much more than preparing and dispensing medicines. Community pharmacists give advice to patients, diagnose, recommend treatments, prescribe medicines, vaccinate patients, run clinics and the list goes on.

Community pharmacy are at the centre of communities. This combined with their regular contact with patients means they are really well trusted, and many people will seek the support and advice of pharmacy teams.

“Our pharmacy is a ‘safe place’ where vulnerable people can go to for help. I supported a patient suffering from domestic violence and, today, that person lives safely in a supported accommodation.”

Pharmacist, Dudley

“We have supplied not only medicines but also safe, sound advice and moral support. We have been a pillar of support within the neighbourhoods we serve and cared for people’s overall wellbeing, not only their physical health. That has always been the case, but is even more apparent during this pandemic.”

Pharmacist, West Midlands

Myth: Community pharmacy is not clinical

Community pharmacies offer a range of clinical services. They provide vaccinations, including the covid vaccination, recommend products and support patient with long terms conditions. Many pharmacies also offer stop smoking support, sexual health services and contraception and NHS health checks.

Some community pharmacists are also trained as prescribers – this means they are able to prescribe medicines directly to patients.

The pharmacy degree is also changing to make pharmacy even more clinical.

All trainees starting university from 2022 will be able to prescribe medicines when they qualify as a pharmacist.

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