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David Howells - Area manager

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Pharmacy Area Manager, David shares his day-to-day life of the role and his experiences in a community pharmacy.


00:00:24:10 [Speaker 1]:. What frustrates you about how the public may misunderstand pharmacy or what a pharmacist does?  

00:00:38:16 [Speaker 2]: I think from, from my aspect, I think people are, people have an opinion that pharmacy is something where we pick it off the shelf and it become, and it should be ready. What takes you so long? Um, unfortunately people don't have a full understanding of the fact that it's, everything is checked, you know, probably three times or twice in the, in, in each cycle of dispensing. So I think from my aspect, it's that, well, what's taking so long, uh, when actually, if you went to, uh, say a and E or something along those lines, you don't say to the doctor what's taking 

00:01:12:19 you so long. If you're waiting for a result to be interpreted as, uh, you know, both, both things can be as fatal if incorrect.  

00:01:23:08 [Speaker 1]: Yeah. There's similar things for most people's company, um, from going back. Yeah. What prompted you to get into pharmacy in the first place?  

00:01:33:20 [Speaker 2]: So, actually pharmacy for me was something that I've always wanted to do probably since the age of probably about 12. Um, so it was one of those careers that I perhaps, I think my love of it came from when my granddad was ill. And, uh, there was a pharmacist that had a good bedside manner. Um, and as a result, I felt like I could make a difference.  

00:01:54:04 [Speaker 1]: Yeah, that's right. How many people know what I want to do when as well  

00:02:01:07 [Speaker 2]: As I say it was something that I always wanted to do. And that's, I think from, from my aspect, you know, whether perhaps w why I feel quite a strong connection to pharmacy  

00:02:12:24 [Speaker 1]: Keeps you excited about pharmacy. That's true. I think probably just  

00:02:20:23 [Speaker 2]: The fact that it could have such a good future and we can, as pharmacists, I know it's not just pharmacists, but pharmacy technicians, dispensers, medical, healthcare assistance. I think we can all make such a big difference. Um, and I think, you know, seeing how technology is going to develop alongside healthcare. So I think that's probably one of the most exciting factors that moment with robot dispensing, you know, um, there's a big argument to say that long-term, that will be the way forward, which should allow pharmacists to be able to focus more clinically, um, on actually helping the patient, which goes back 

00:02:51:21 to what my love was and what made me do it when I was 12  

00:02:58:12 [Speaker 1]: Kind of firstly, tell us what your role is and then describe what you do in that role. Yep.  

00:03:08:22 [Speaker 2]: So my name's David, um, I'm the area manager for camp sins. So I look after, um, a large area of, of Kempson. So Clemson has got 85 shops. I look after about sort of eight 17 of them, um, ranging from West Sussex all the way across to Dorset. I've got some in Luton. Um, and then I've got some sort of just slightly more inland, like in sort of pool bruh as well. So my, my role is to support all of those, um, on a day-to-day basis. Um, and then also I'm a pharmacist as well, fully 

00:03:40:24 qualified pharmacist. So practice within the shops, um, within that scope, um, normally normally in my, in my set of shops, but sometimes if the company requires, then I'll go somewhere else for, for a day and work somewhere else, which, you know, for me, gives a lot back because I get to work in a big, you know, a nice, every setting is different and has its own little niches and every patient sort of demographic is different as well.  

00:04:06:22 [Speaker 1]: What'd you enjoy most?  

00:04:10:24 [Speaker 2]: So my job now is, is moved away a little bit from day-to-day pharmacy in some aspects. Um, so I do a lot of sort of managing staff management, problem solving. Um, but then what I do, I like that I get that variation of one day is very much management problem solving, making sure, you know, and then the next day could be actual being the pharmacist for the day. I think for me, that's what I enjoy is the variation, but I very much enjoy having that constant sort of contact with 

00:04:40:22 the patients and also helping the dispensers to evolve with the system.  

00:04:45:04 [Speaker 1]: What does that contact with patients look like? When do you feel like you'll make a difference?  

00:04:51:24 [Speaker 2]: I think, you know, it's, so there's lots of services that are offered from the NHS at this point, um, from a pharmacy setting. So whether it be a flu jab travel vaccinations, uh, M U R S, which have what we call medicine news reviews, which actually have now just been ceased, but they now do something called them discharge medication service, uh, where people can now, um, very much sort of get involved, um, in terms of the hospital will send a discharge through to the pharmacy and the pharmacy can follow up and make sure that that's all correct and then 

00:05:24:14 follow up and make sure if the patient needs any counseling. So I think that makes a difference, um, the service breadth. Um, and then interestingly, I think, you know, just on the ground, speaking to your patients and having that contact and did you know, you should take it after food.  

00:05:38:17 [Speaker 2]: Did you know that you should be taking it, you know, on an empty stomach? Do you know you should be taking it at night time? Do you know if you don't take this at, if you don't take it in the morning, you might as well not bother taking it. If you take it with this tablet, you know, all the things that people don't realize because no one ever tells them. And that's why I think when you sit with them and then they come in two weeks later and say, I feel so much better. That's making a difference, I think is, is the rewarding part of the job.  

00:06:06:06 [Speaker 1]: Yeah. Moments still stick with you that you've had with patients, perhaps  

00:06:12:24 [Speaker 2]: Plenty. Um, you know,*** I've had patients where they've come in, um, and I've had to refer them, uh, where I've tested their cholesterol and their blood pressure, and I've referred them to the GP. And two days later they've been having triple bypass surgery and we've avoided them from having a heart attack***. Um, so, you know, that's just one of the incidents that happened probably actually actually quite early on in my career. Um, and then, you know, ranging from that to another time where, you know, uh, patients come in and it's been a simple thing where you've 

00:06:43:12 just sat down and gone through the whole list of medication, um, and made them feel at ease of what they're taking and why they're taking it. Uh, and then as a result, they actually take it better, feel better. And, you know, hopefully don't then end up in the doctor's room again, because they're actually adhering to their medication rather than not  

00:07:03:08 [Speaker 1]: Something about policy that you think makes it unique and healthcare.  

00:07:11:15 [Speaker 2]: Well, I think, yeah, I think, well, I mean, we have a specialism in the medication and I think that people don't realize that. Um, I think that that for me, is something that we offer, um, and, and service driven and making sure that we do all the things that we need to do. Um, in terms of testing cholesterol, blood pressure, et cetera. Um, I think it's, it's a one stop shop where we can offer that in a pharmacy. Now you can't often there are some, but there aren't many doctors surgeries. 

00:07:45:02 Oh. So these people need to come in as well. And, um, I market and Mark is here as well.  

00:07:57:21 [Speaker 1]: Oh, don't say that. Yeah.  

00:08:14:13 [Speaker 2]: Um, sorry. You were saying about how, you know, from our aspect, what does pharmacy offer that people don't know about rarely. And, and it is that, you know, you can go to your pharmacy and you could have your blood pressure checked, you can pick up your medication and you could have your travel vaccination all in one visit. If you go through a GP, yes. You could have that done, but will you then, will you come away with your medication at the same time? Um, I think, you know, that's what we offer, but I don't think it's necessarily sold as that. Um, and I think 

00:08:44:15 for me, that's, that's, that's my job and you know, other pharmacist jobs to get that across that, you know, we can offer a lot more than what is actually seen, I think. Yeah. Yeah. That's why people, a lot of people, if you ask them what they want to do, they often say doctors, they often say, so this is, but you don't get loads of people saying pharmacy. And I think actually it's an under, you know, an underrated sort of skill and job set that we want to be promoting. Hence the reason for this video,  

00:09:14:16 [Speaker 1]: What do you think is the best way to sell it? Because it's a long standing problem that people are crushed by it?  

00:09:25:03 [Speaker 2]: I think probably from my aspect, I think the biggest thing is, is publicizing it and making people think about that job. So a lot of people don't think, I know I'll do pharmacy and they don't give that a go. So I think we need to get to the bottom of it, starting at the young Raiders. It's only by luck that I liked it, that I fancy doing it from a young age, but if we can target, you know, not so much 12, I think that's quite young, but I think, you know, 15, 16, 17, when you're in that age, give them some exposure to what the, what the job is rather than making 

00:09:58:15 them think that if I'm going to do anything in the medical world, I want to be a nurse or a doctor. Um, you know, we've got to think we've got to start making people think that actually the pharmacy is a useful tool and the pharmacist. And I suppose you've got to make the job more attractive. Um, not that it's not, but people have to realize why it's attractive. And you know, the salary generally is, is quite inviting. You know, the job role is generally most, most people, most pharmacists work within a spectrum of 

00:10:27:16 hours. There are on calls because that's how we have 24 hour services. But I think people need to realize that it, it can be quite a nice work-life balance. Yeah.  

00:10:38:05 [Speaker 1]: Some people told us how flexible it is, Chris  

00:10:47:09 [Speaker 2]: And you, you know, I think the job security aspect of it is very good. You know, people are always going to need medicines. It's never not, that's never going to not go away at this point. So I think from our aspect, I think it's something to be mindful of that if you're looking for something that's a good, steady job, reliable, you know, it's not, it's a good field to be in. And I think that equally it can be as exciting or as calm as you want to throw yourself into it. Yeah. You can do training for loads of services or you can be a run of the mill pharmacists 

00:11:20:02 that turns up every day and does the checking it's, you know, I think the job is like most jobs, what you make of it. Unfortunately, most people see it as the bit where they're behind the counter and they're checking, but there's a lot more to it than that in this day and age.  

00:11:35:23 [Speaker 1]: Yeah. That's something we do with this project. Would you be able to briefly give us the bullet points of your career today? Tell us what attracted you to that role?  

00:11:58:05 [Speaker 2]: So I started off as a Saturday member of staff when I was in university. Um, so I did, you know, literally worked alongside the pharmacist as the assistant, and that could be just preparing the medication, sweeping the floor, cleaning the toilet or whatever was needed really as Saturday member of staff. Um, and I think that was quite important as a, as a first and foremost, because it gave me the foundations as to what I wanted to do. Um, and then from there I went and did my pre-register training year. Um, so that involved a year, working in 

00:12:32:14 shadowing, a pharmacist, working with the dispensary team, working out what the demographics were. You can do that in lots of different settings. I, I chose to do it in community, but you can do it in hospital and then next day, and as you can do it in a GP practice as well.  

00:12:46:00 [Speaker 2]: Um, so I did that. And then following that, I worked as a, sort of an employed pharmacist in a, in a shop that was extremely busy and gave myself as much clinical exposure to as much as I could. It was in a GP surgery. So I had good links with the GPS. Um, and then following that, I then actually managed that shop. Um, so it was one of the busiest shops in Sussex. Um, if not in the UK, it would be sort of in the top hundred for her visit would be, um, so did that for a long time for 

00:13:16:05 about two and a half, three years, and then became an area manager, um, looking after, uh, first it was 12 shops I think, and each year seems to, you know, one extra or something like that. So now on 17, um, and that's partly because of, captain's obviously, you know, trying to expand and that's, cause it's exciting. It's, you know, it's what we want pharmacy to be. And I'm trying to work with the pharmacist, work with the teams to push the services forward, you know, to make sure that people are aware that pharmacy is exciting, um, 

00:13:49:01 just to make sure that pharmacy is exciting. Um, and just, and just to make sure that, you know, people feel motivated to want to come to work. A big part of my job now is not to be a pharmacist it's to work with the counter assistance and the, the pharmacy technicians to, to make the job enjoyable for everybody and, and make it manageable on a large scale volume. I mean, the shop we're standing in now, um, you have 20 years ago did 6,000 items 

00:14:16:01 and now it's doing 26,000 items a month.  

00:14:20:03 [Speaker 1]: You have to,  

00:14:21:16 [Speaker 2]: They're equipped for that and you have to make the staff enjoy that because it is high pressure. I can't, I'm not going to stand here and tell anybody it's an easy job, but it's a rewarding job and that's the most bit, yeah. The bit to enjoy it.  

00:14:35:03 [Speaker 1]: Can you say that again?  

00:14:37:10 [Speaker 2]: Yeah. I said, I'm not saying it's an easy job, but it's certainly a rewarding job. And I think, you know, you get out of it, what you put in and that's the most important bit for me.  

00:14:48:05 [Speaker 1]: Thanks. You try to do as motivate. Yeah.  

00:14:52:07 [Speaker 2]: Uh, lots of different things, you know, making sure that the staff levels are right. Um, making sure that, you know, they feel supported. I think that's one of the biggest things that I've read books, um, like the junior doctor books where they, you know, they basically say that they don't feel that well supported and you're on your own and things. I think my job as a manager, particularly not as a pharmacist now, but as a manager is to make sure the staff do feel supported to work with them, um, to, you know, to listen to them. Cause I think in anybody's field, if 

00:15:23:18 you're not listening, then that's not enjoyable for the person that's giving out the information. Um, and, and to, you know, to show them that, you know, we're getting better as well. Because I think if with every time that they feel they're getting better, they're more motivated to do better.  

00:15:40:04 [Speaker 2]: Whereas if you're just all take and no give, then you know, you don't motivate anybody. What motivates you? Uh, me personally motivates me. ****I think I'm motivated by seeing other people grow and do better. Um, and you know, an equally that then motivates me to do that in myself. Um, because you can't expect, especially as a manager, I can't expect everybody else to do that if I don't demonstrate that. So therefore, like I trained to do the new services and make sure I'm up to date with 

00:16:11:11 things. Um, and I think, you know, motivate for what really motivates me is at the end of the day, the patient leaving, knowing they've had a good and happy service.  ***

00:16:25:11 [Speaker 1]: That was pretty good for the editor's benefit. Just saying that. So they listened to, they hear that one that they reviewed a furnish. You put that straight in there. Okay. I can go get it, these interviews cause you covered a little more questions. So thanks. That's exactly what we are. Do you feel like you, you learn things from patients  

00:16:54:15 [Speaker 2]: And learn things from everybody? Um, one of the misconceptions that I see is that people feel that they know everything, you know, in a heartbeat, whether that'd be a patient that could be a healthcare assistant or a pharmacist. Um, I think for me, when you feel that, you know, everything, that's when you become dangerous. Um, so I think it's about recognizing your limitations, you know, recognizing when you need to go back and learn a little bit more, uh, and it can be sometimes that a patient comes in who could be on a specialist medication 

00:17:27:08 that I've never seen before and they will know something about it that I may not. Um, so I think, you know, yes, I think you can learn from whoever you, whoever you choose to listen to and learn from. And I think that, you know, that's another thing for me as a trainee pharmacist, I learned a hell of a lot, not just from my pharmacist, but from my assistance and my dispensers, because some of them have been doing the jobs 30 years and I've been doing it six months just cause I've got the degree. It doesn't mean 

00:17:57:10 that I've got the practical aspect. Um, so I think that's something that everybody needs to be aware of that we learn from each other. And then in a day-to-day scenario, we're in it together, not any one person alone that goes back to the motivation side of things as well.  

00:18:15:22 [Speaker 1]: how has pharmacy impacted on you as a person and their personal life?  

00:18:42:16 [Speaker 2]: Uh, it was nearly made me gray. Um, no, I think, um, You know, I've developed as an individual based on the job that I've done and the development in my job as well. Um, so whether that be from a pharmacist point of view or from a manager's point of view. So I've, I think I've got a lot to be extremely grateful for, for opportunity from Kamsons, um, but also opportunity from individuals as well that people put their faith in me to be able to then, you know, go on 

00:19:15:04 and, and, and grow my skill set as well, which to me is always growing. So I think from a communication perspective, I feel like I would be a reasonable communicator and, and hopefully, you know, I think that that's something that's really important, both in my job role, but in pharmacy and to the patient. I think that it's very much these days that the patient we treat, we want them to be involved in their own path in their own care 

00:19:42:13 pathway.  

00:19:43:12 [Speaker 2]: But I still think that ****we are evolving as a medical profession to get them involved in that. I think sometimes it can still be very much, you should do this, but if they don't understand why the why they're doing that, then you're not going to get them to do it. So I think, you know, from me, how has it affected me as an overall? I think it just makes me think slightly more and makes me reflect on my own practices and makes me communicate. But that's not just in the working world that could be in a, I'm doing a house renovation at the moment. It could be in a, you 

00:20:14:15 know, in a personal world as well. It makes you reflect about everything slightly more  

00:20:19:00 [Speaker 1]: Even been surprised.  

00:20:20:19 [Speaker 2]: Now ****[Share worthy from parent’s POV]what pharmacy does do is bring you a load of organization skills that you think as a teenage boy that I never had. And so you almost become a little bit sort of, you know, you like things in certain places. Um, so I think that's probably what surprises me the most is that when I was a teenager, my bedroom was a mess every day, these days, you know, I don't go to bed in my bedroom. It's not like, yeah, in a reasonable organization chaotic. Then I find that quite, you know, so it's probably changed me as a person for that in that way that I'm just more 

00:20:51:08 organized and a bit more together because I suppose it's, you have to be in pharmacy because you can't have everyone's medication in one big pile and just cipher out yet is kept in streamline orders. So yeah, probably, probably for me, that's what it is. I think,  

00:21:13:13 [Speaker 1]: I think you've touched on this already, but how do you see the future of pharmacy? Um,  

00:21:23:22 [Speaker 2]: I think it's still working its own pathway out. I think, you know, years to come. I don't think it's going to be that there's going to be people putting the stickers on the boxes and I don't think that's all going to happen in years to come. I think there's going to be robots to do that in some ways. However, what I do think is that we'll still be heavily reliant upon people. Um, so I think, you know, you can't do medic, you can't do the medical world robotically. Um, I think there'll always be that element of communication.  

00:21:54:01 [Speaker 1]: Um, just coming down here, everyone's got it. So good.  

00:22:05:04 [Speaker 2]: I think, you know, from my aspect very much, it's one of those things that, you know, I think it will be robotic in some way from a dispensing process, but I think what I'd like to believe is that pharmacy technicians, um, so you know, this is an advert I know for not just pharmacists, you know, we want more pharmacy people. We want people to be thinking about pharmacy technician courses and how they could benefit as well. So not pharmacy being a pharmacist doesn't have to be for everybody, but there is a pharmacy technician aspect that is just as rewarding for 

00:22:36:14 people who don't want to go into study for six years. You know, why can't you do the pharmacy MVQ on the job? You know, so I think there's lots of, there's lots of involvement. And I think that technicians in years to come, I think there'll be doing travel vaccinations, flu jabs. I think there'll be doing, you know, um, taking blood samples. I think there'll be, you know, there'll be able to almost check Depending on what, you know, what they're checking, et cetera, whether a pharmacist will be present or 

00:23:05:22 unpleasant cause at the moment, but a pharmacist has to be present for everything. You know, whereas I think hopefully there will be that evolvement of, you know, the fact of realizing that people, you know, professions, pharmacy technicians can take responsibility for other things.  

00:23:25:23 [Speaker 1]: Just lastly you said earlier that we need to sell pharmacy slightly different. How would you convince someone who has no interest in pharmacy? Maybe they're on some careers website, race, car driver, pharmacist. Yeah.  

00:23:46:01 [Speaker 2]: I mean, I, I can't, I can't hand on heart say to anybody that, you know, you have to do this, it's not, to me, it sells itself. You just have to go and actually do it. Um, so I do a lot of employment and recruitment for my area, for my 18 shops. Um, and it's not some people start that they don't realize what the job is. And I think from my aspect, it's, you know, think about it, get your work experience and give it a go. You know, I think there's no, there's no better way to sell 

00:24:16:07 it than doing it. Um, and I think, you know, there's plenty of work experience placements out there. There's plenty of jobs, Saturday jobs, jobs, you know, on the counter, if you're, if you're a young person and you want, you want to try something, um, you know, I'm not saying it commits you to it forever, but *** try it because I think that is the biggest thing for me, is making people understand that they, they can get something back. Um, and you know, but I think, I think the reward is, is, is, you know, 

00:24:51:16 seeing your patients smile and be happy. And you've given that back at the end of the day, you know, obviously for my mind, it's not just that it's seeing the staff happy and things, but you know, it depends on what job role you want. You can go into a different job role in hospital. I'm sure you're going to interview some pharmacists in those. Um, and they, again, likewise can, you know, their reward has to be helping the patient at the 

00:25:16:24 end point. Um, and that is, I think that's ****the common goal across the whole of pharmacy is that we all want the best for the patient. *** And knowing that Mrs. Smith is really rarely happy and feels loved by her chemist is really important. And that to me is evident in the bundles of biscuits and chocolates and stuff that we get, you know, but it's, it's not just about the patient recognition. It's about, you know, the younger generation, because if without the younger generation doing these things, we're not 

00:25:47:20 going to have, that will come a point where you don't have any farms, any pharmacy technicians, you know, it's, it's just about motivating people to want to do it financially. It's reasonably rewarding life, quality of life. It's reasonably rewarding. But again, until people try it, they will never know.  

00:26:04:17 [Speaker 1]: So one of the things we've had that I wouldn't have considered before is that pharmacists are somewhat away from

00:26:16:17 [Speaker 2]: Yeah. I think, you know, that's again, that's to do with the future of pharmacy. I think now interacting with other professions and we're starting to merge towards that, but I think that's, you know, that's some of the important bits is moving towards those interactions and, and, you know, have it getting the doctors to have full faith in the pharmacy, getting the nurses, you know, it's, it's only, it's not until the doctors have reached out and started to use you or the nurses have reached 

00:26:47:09 out and started to use you that they go actually, I'd never be without you. Um, so where I used to work at my old practice, um, that was a GP medical center based pharmacy and the GPS, you know, said, I don't know how we'd have ever have, we could have an hour practice without you in the, in our presence sort of thing. Yeah. So, so the GPS used to say, you know, in the old practice that I used to work at, the GPS would say, I don't know how we have a practice 

00:27:18:22 practiced without you. Now we have you, we wouldn't ever want to be without you. And that's just the knowledge breadth that we offer to them. That's not about diagnosing, but about tree thing. Um, and that's, you know, I think that's, that's what our specialty is. And if we all come together, I can guarantee that the patient end point will be way better.  

00:27:40:13 [Speaker 1]: Okay. I'll go from my questions. Is there anything that you want to say that you're going to wake up in the middle of the night? You haven't said it?  

00:27:47:10 [Speaker 2]: No, I don't think so. I think for me, it's, it's, you know, I think it's important that we get people stepping in the right direction of pharmacy trying it. It's not for everybody, you know, and I'm not, I'm, I'm personally not here to feel like I have to sell it because I enjoy what I do. Um, and it's not for everybody, but you know, for the people that it is for, it becomes a passion, whether you're a pharmacist, a healthcare assistant or a pharmacy technician. So, and you're not going to 

00:28:15:04 know if that's your passion, unless you try it.  

00:28:17:21 [Speaker 1]: Who is it? Cool. Can you say, it's not  

00:28:25:14 [Speaker 2]: I think, what do I look out for? I look for someone that's social, um, generally, you know, quite well, you can't tell every time, but just quite caring, loving, um, because that meant, you know, and yes, ******** it is hard work, but you don't mind working hard if you're happy that you're providing the service for the person. And I think that's, you know, it's hard work. You can't say it's not, but if you want to take something away from work every day, then the pharmacy is what you need to do ********.  

00:28:53:19 [Speaker 1]: That's premium. That was really good. That last one. Wasn't it. You leave it there. Yeah. Yeah. Happy with that. Jake. straight in there. Had to start. Okay. Let's talk about one more thing. We want you to, if you're comfortable. Yeah. We'll get two meters away. And if you could, if you feel comfortable, just look into the camera and tell us your name and your job title, and then smile for a couple of seconds. 

00:29:25:10 Well, that's pretty easy. You can do a couple of takes though. I can tell you a really bad joke if you named this one. No, no, it's fine. I'll give you a countdown and then try and look through camera.  

00:29:43:11 [Speaker 2]: No shifty eyes. No worries. I can't promise that  

00:29:47:03 [Speaker 1]: so, three, two, one.  

00:29:51:22 [Speaker 2]: My name's David Howells and I'm the council's area manager for West Sussex.  

00:29:59:00 [Speaker 1]: Okay.  

00:29:59:08 [Speaker 2]: My name is David Howells and I'm the captain's area manager for West Sussex. 

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