Monthly Archives: November 2012

Films about Pharmacy


The Running Man: Chasing people who have not paid for their prescriptions


The Hunger Games: Time for elevenses


This Means War: Another pharmacy opens down the road


Mean Girls: Staff ganging up on one member of staff


Taken: My pen gets stolen


Usual Suspects: The same people always steal my pen


Horrible Bosses: No one likes their manager


Training Day: Work Experience


The Good, The Bad and The ugly: Pharmacy staff


Some Like it Hot: Tea


There Will Be Blood: Flu vaccination


A Fistful of Dollars: Methadone millionaires [Too soon?]


The Great Escape: Sneaking off to the toilet


I Dont Wanna Miss a Thing: Guest Post by Candy Sartan

I could check your script, while you’re standing waiting,
While you’re staring at me frowning,
And impatiently you’re tutting.
I could bag it up, hand it to you right now,
But I won’t know what you’re getting, for certain.
For every time you heckle me, it’s gonna be longer

Don’t want to sign the box, don’t want to give it out
Till I’ve checked it right
Cos I don’t wanna miss a thing.
Cos even when it’s labelled right
The number in the box might not be,
the strength is wrong
And I don’t want to miss a thing

Got an MUR, for a consultation,
And he’s on a dozen items
And they all have interactions.
Then I ask him if,
he knows what he’s taking
And he answers “no, I don’t”
I think I’ll be ages.

I gotta go through each one
To tell him what he’s on them for
And what times to to take.
And I don’t want to miss a thing
Cos even in a medibox
Don’t think he’ll get his head round that
But I need to try
And I don’t want to miss a thing.

I don’t want to miss one dose,
I don’t want to miss one drop
I just want to get it right
The item that you’ve been prescribed
I want you to stand right there
To wait for your turn patiently
Maybe go and read the paper
I’ll have it checked by then

I don’t want an error here,
Don’t want you suing me for thousands
You know you would
So I don’t wanna miss a thing.
Cos every time you come back in
You’ll have a little dig at me that your
Hrt was labelled as penicillin

Pharm and Farm: A comparison. Guest post by @lifeonthepharm


I have come to realise a similarity, other than pronunciation, of the Farming industry and Pharmacy.


  1. Both often have to deal with rather large, uncooperative charges and both the farmer and Pharmacist have to come to deduce meaning from incomprehensible grunts.
  2. Bad smells are part of daily duties, the majority from our respective herds.
  3. Long hours are a common occurrence with the Locum & 100 hour pharmacist often rising early with the farmer and working late beyond nightfall.
  4. Heavy lifting is a characteristic usually associated with the outdoors profession but I have encountered totes containing drinks which could easily slip a disc.
  5. On a more serious note, both professions are facing squeezing of reimbursements …
  6. …and diversification of business is one way to stay in the black whether this is through farm shops, ice-cream and cheese, or through MURs, NMS and EHC.
  7. In modern times both sectors are facing ever increasing beurocracy and paperwork, putting a squeeze on that most valuable resource: time.
  8. The overuse of medicine seems to be an issue solely centred on healthcare, but the overuse of antibiotics in animals is a problem which is front and centre in many people’s minds.
  9. A degree of autonomy is a shared characteristic, with the treating of minor ailments dealt with internally within our respective fields, although we often have to answer to a higher power whether this is the supermarkets (which profession?) or targets from head office.
  10. I’m sure many pharmacists have been asked to look into their crystal ball to answer those unanswerable questions (how long will I have the squits? When can I stop my citalopram?) and I have heard farmers being called upon themselves (is it going to be a hot summer? When should I pick my strawberries from the garden?)
  11. Last but not least, the universal trait among Pharmacists and Farmers is the ability to deal with huge amounts of bullshit and keep going everyday.


The Show Must Go On!

There are ten things that are designed to stop the workflow in a Pharmacy:

1] Babies: I love babies. I used to be one. But they hate work. They must do.

2] Former staff coming to visit: Catching up with those who have left slows us down. We never spoke to them while they were here. That’s why they left.

3] Former staff coming to visit who have had babies: See points one and two and then double them.

4] Twitter: It stops me working. I’ll explain more once I check the prescription that’s waiting..

5] Patients: Yes, I know we need them but things would happen quicker if they did not interrupt us and ask when the next bus into town is coming.

6] The weekend: Monday morning should be renamed ‘Spending the whole morning talking about what happened on the weekend’. No work gets done.

7] Area managers: Everybody works slower as they walk on egg shells and hope they don’t get asked a question about targets.

8] Love life: Once we have explored the reasons why the counter assistant got dumped by the milkman, then work can commence.

9] Tea: This is a vital part of the workplace but when you have 6 cups a day and 6 staff then it takes one poor individual 30 minutes of the day to make it.

10] Reality TV: OMG, why did Gary Barlow vote off the lady who made that cake from Strictly? I think I have got that right.

The Star Wars Guide to Pharmacy


Pharmacy has a lot in common with Star Wars..


@JonnyB_at_RMP: ever met a Jedi GP receptionist? “These are not the scripts you are looking for”…!


@mrdispenser: GP Yoda: the correct dose it is


@LSD_Locums: Darth Patient: I want you to search it again; I am not leaving without my Rx


@JonnyB_at_RMP: The AAH delivery van is running late again: the fastest hunk o’ junk in the galaxy!


@LSD_Locums: Well, given the fact that Mr Dispenser is already a BMF, he has to be Mace Windu….


@LSD_Locums: GPhC Emperor: you scruffy pharmacists are no match for the power of my epic lawsuit and threat of closure….


@mrdispenser: Jabba the Hut is upset that Orlistat is out of stock


@LSD_Locums: Bowsk the bounty hunter is annoyed because there are still probs with Oilatum….


@mrdispenser: Qui-Gon Jinn the pre-reg tutor is keeping an eye on Anakin the Pre-reg


@mrdispenser: R2-D2 the pharmacy robot has broken down again


@LSD_Locums: C-3PO the area manager has come to chat about missing targets


@mrdispenser: Han Solo the locum is late again….


@LSD_Locums: and he texts his mate Lando about working in his shop one day


@JonnyB_at_RMP: How about the Republic’s latest treatment for osteoporosis, R-chew D-3. I know, that’s terrible.

@LSD_Locums: Would there be an NRT called Chewbacca?


@JonnyB_at_RMP: personally I’m still looking for the ‘small thermal exhaust port’ on the side of Boots head office


@PharmakeusPrime: “you practiced in that dispensary ? You’re braver than I thought!”


@LSD_Locums: “I am NOT a formulary!”


@PharmakeusPrime: “the MPharm Course is what gives a pharmacist their powers. It’s like an energy field that unites us”


@LSD_Locums: we forgot superintendent Leia


@PharmakeusPrime: you have learned much pre-reg. But you are not a pharmacist yet


@LSD_Locums: “if you fire me now, I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine”


@LSD_Locums: Luke, I am Big Pharma


@PharmakeusPrime: Luke, I know we booked you for the Hoth branch but we need you to work in the Dagobah branch instead


@LSD_Locums: Pharmacy owner Tarkin to SI Leia: you don’t know how hard I found it, signing over your shares


@PharmakeusPrime: I’m amazed you had the courage to sign off these SOPs yourself


@PharmakeusPrime: So you have a twin sister. If you won’t work for Lloyd’s maybe she will…


@PharmakeusPrime: Evacuation ? At our moment of triumph? Could the Picolax not have waited?


@dressage_diva: Luke, use the force of the spray twice a day


@LSD_Locums: I’ve just made a 3 for 2 deal that will keep the Empire out of here forever…


@PharmakeusPrime: I used to bullseye 25ml bottles into a T6 carton back home.


@JohnnyB_at_RMP: I heard medicines optimisation was just a ‘hokey religion’


Giving Feedback


What’s the best way of telling someone that they have made you a poor cup of tea?


Pharmakeus Prime: Ask them for coffee next time.


Abby freeman: You don’t have to tell them just looking at the tea in a hurt horrified way works for me.


David France: Ask them if they don’t like you.


Rachel Newson: Run to the sink with it at arm’s length averting your face which is carrying a look of pure disgust.


checkedshoes: I learned as a locum pretty much to drink tea as it comes. I avoid coffee in shops I do not know in case it is too strong.


@Taj: You have to be blunt! I had a girl serve me cold brown milk when I asked 4 a coffee. I poured it down the sink in front of her.


@Pillmanuk: Spraying it out full forced followed by a retching action usually does the job.


Darshana Thaker: Spilling it down the sink and making a fresh one


Jo McMillan: Offer to give them a lesson?Say to them “you’re a coffee drinker, I take it?”


Cam: Shit tea is a sure fire way of getting on any pharmacist’s shit list.


Laura S Dorrian: Ah, but, given that it is not a statutory right, can we complain about bad tea?


Ronnie Patel: That I like my tea very strong


Natalie Davis: Tell that person straight. Bad tea is a no no!


Shazin Murji: Don’t drink it & go buy one.


Michelle Dyoss: Take a sip, say ugg and stick out your tongue.


Amanda Isles: Spill it and say oops…then make another…just remember if you take sugar avoid keyboards because the keys stop working and then your waiting times will increase.


Si Barass: Just say “it’s nice, but it’s not how my mum makes it”


@cocksparra: “I asked for a cup of tea, fool, you have brought me pond water.”


Aisha Adnan: “Wow!. Did u boil a bar of soap with water in kettle??”


Dinusha Herath: Oh I’m sorry did I ask for a tea? I meant coffee!?


Rachel Smyth: Drop the cup holding onto your throat gasping ‘water…I…need…water..’ before grabbing on to the sides of the dispensary and slowly slipping to the floor.


Helen Root: I’d tell you to make your own next time so I wouldn’t bother!


Tina A Smith: I’m in the let it go cold or quickly nip out and make yourself another group.


@dressage_diva: You MUST have the good tea and good biscuits.


Rachel Newson: I recognise all the tea reactions. I am a bad tea maker!


Cathy Cooke: I solve bad tea by making it for everyone when I’m in, then I get it how I like it!


Abs: Just pretend to be busy and let the tea go cold. Or say ‘you’re a coffee person aren’t you?’


Nirvair Singh Gill: This should not happen if you make tea making an essential part of the interview process.


Jason Peett: THEY MAKE YOU TEA!!Where do you work? Clearly staff have too much time on their hands! Next you’ll be saying you have biscuits too!


Psychologist seeks pharmacist’s brains! Guest Post by @errorgirlblog


Hannah Family ~ Twitter: @errorgirlblog ~ blog:

Hannah is a psychologist working with the pharmacy practice research group in the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology at the University of Bath. She is currently in her final year of her PhD research programme which is looking at whether pharmacists may be experiencing mental overload when they are at work, and if so if this may be related to dispensing errors.

Last week on BBC news 24 the tennis player Andy Murray was talking about his success in the Olympics and the US Open and how in part his success can be attributed to the work he has been doing with a sports psychologist (the interview can be found here: During this interview he talked about how he had worked with many sports psychologists in the past and hadn’t found them that helpful because they only concentrated on tennis and how to stay calm during the match. However, when his new coach Ivan Lendl suggested he worked with a sports psychologist and recommended the one he had worked with during his own tennis career, he agreed to give it another go. Happily, he explains that this psychologist has had a positive impact on his game this year because instead of focusing solely on the game (like all the other sports psychologists had) she has been helping him “deal with all the stuff that comes into your head from outside.” Andy Murray is a superb example of how reducing your mental workload can mean the difference between success and failure.

Mental workload very simply relates to how much of your mental resources you are using at any one moment. The reason psychologists like me measure mental workload is because we know that humans have a finite amount of mental resource (at any one moment our brain can only do/think about as much as you can fit on one post-it note). This means that when thoughts from outside pop into your head (that are irrelevant to the task at hand / the tennis match) we know those thoughts are using up valuable mental space which could be used to help you carry out the task. Annoyingly we tend to be fairly good at knowing how much we can physically do at any one moment, but probably because we can’t see what is going on in our brain, we often aren’t aware of how much we can mentally do and so it is easy for us to overload our brains either through taking on tasks that are simply too demanding, or through giving our brains extra work to do by trying to think about too many things at once.

Why do we care if people are overloading their brains? We care because in other industries (e.g. aerospace, manufacturing) low mental workload (when our brains aren’t doing enough) and high mental workload (a.k.a mental overload) has been related to the occurrence of errors and safety incidents. We also know that sometimes the way tasks are designed, or required to be carried out can add unnecessary workload to a person’s mental processes or indeed overload them.  Human factors experts look at tasks in great detail to make sure this doesn’t happen. Similarly the environment we work in can add extra mental workload so it is important to consider not just the task, but where you are carrying it out. For example, consider the difference you might feel carrying out your pharmacy work in a busy pharmacy compared to doing the same work in a quiet office (one might feel a bit more mentally draining than the other). We also know that mental workload is linked to how much you enjoy or derive satisfaction from your work, and that it is one factor linked to burnout, job turnover and absenteeism. There is of course you and your life outside work too. You will have an impact on the amount of mental workload you experience at work too because it varies in relation to our mood and energy levels. This means we need to be aware of how much we are having an impact on our own mental workload, as well as the work and the environment we work in.  Of course mental workload is only one factor that will affect your experience at work and your ability to carry out your work safely and accurately.

The reason why I have been so interested in exploring mental workload in pharmacy is because of the documented workload pressures in pharmacy workplaces at the moment, especially within community pharmacies as the balance between healthcare and business priorities becomes harder to juggle in the current financial climate. In the last 5-10 years the profession has seen a very large increase in workload through greater dispensing activity and new roles that pharmacists are taking on which hasn’t been matched by increases in staffing levels.

So the aim of my research is simply to find out the levels of mental workload involved in routine community pharmacy tasks (e.g. dispensing activities) and how this changes when we alter the parameters of the environment the task is carried out in, and also how the task is carried out. We also measure how these task and environment manipulations impact on errors on the tasks so that we can find out if these factors are linked to safety incidents in pharmacies. This past year I have been inviting community pharmacists to come and take part in a simulated pharmacy study which takes about 1hr 30minutes to 2hours to complete. I ask my participants to complete 2 sets of routine pharmacy tasks and complete some questionnaires at the beginning, in between and at the end of the tasks. I ask all our participants to come to the University of Bath to take part because that way I can ensure that all our participants complete the tasks under the same conditions (knowing as we do that the characteristics of the environment you carry out a task in can affect your mental workload). Due to the time and travel involved, we are able to offer funds to employ locum cover a day to pharmacies whilst their pharmacists come and take part, or if pharmacists take part on a day off or are a locum we offer them  equivalent of a days locum fee for taking part and we reimburse all participant’s travel expenses.

The study is a lot of fun and all the pharmacists I’ve met have been the most amazing people and I hope I bump into them again in the future if I am lucky enough to continue my career in pharmacy practice.

I would like to tell you more about the theory of the study and what we hope to find, but we haven’t finished recruiting and meeting participants yet, and until this is complete I cannot share the finer details until all my participants have taken part. I promise I will write another post for Mr Dispenser, when the data collection is complete to tell you a little more about the theory behind the study.

To date over 80 community pharmacists have taken part in our study but we need more to reach our targets, if you are a community pharmacist and you would like to take part – there is still time (until December 2012!) please contact me on if you would like to know more. *I am particularly looking for lots more community pharmacists who work in independent pharmacies to take part!*