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“Teamwork has kept me going throughout the pandemic.”

Bhavisha has been a registered pharmacist for over a year and a half. Working part-time as a community Pharmacist Manager in Berkshire and as a locum in South East England, Bhavisha is also studying towards a postgraduate diploma at the University of Bath.

What do you enjoy most about being a pharmacy manager?
I love watching people grow and celebrating their progress. It’s so rewarding to see staff excel in certain aspects of their job that they’ve previously struggled with. Secondly, it’s the gratitude from patients. Whether it’s a simple thank you or an unexpected box of chocolates – being appreciated makes it all worthwhile.

 

Has your day-to-day changed since the COVID-19 outbreak? If so, how are you coping?
Since the outbreak started, I’ve been wearing a face mask every single day. Initially, it pressed against my nose and left it red and bruised but now thankfully my nose tolerates the mask. Seeing patients makes my day in community pharmacy, but many are shielding and I’ve not been able to see them. If a representative is collecting for a patient or if they call to re-order medication, I’ve been making a point to ask how they’re doing and tell them that I’m looking forward to seeing them soon… whenever soon happens to be.

Have there been any particularly challenging moments?
One day during the outbreak, our delivery driver couldn’t come in and deliver medication, so I came in on my day off to deliver to our residents. I didn’t think it would be difficult but because I wasn’t familiar with the local area, I drove back on myself several times. I even had to succumb to calling up patients to ask where their house is when I got extremely lost. As nice as it was to see the patients who have been shielding, I’m better being a pharmacist than a delivery driver!

What has been the biggest challenge as a manager during the covid-19 outbreak?
Keeping the pharmacy up and running has been the top priority to ensure everyone in the community has access to medicine. Despite having clear signs warning the public not to enter the pharmacy if they are displaying COVID-19 symptoms, I have had to deal with people entering or attempting to enter the pharmacy. This has heightened the anxiety of my staff and added to the workload because it increases the frequency of cleaning to ensure the pharmacy is safe.

How have you been supporting your team’s wellbeing during the past few months?
I’m fortunate to have a cafe next door and a grocery shop nearby so I’ve been able to treat my staff to croissants, drinks and ice-creams as a token of appreciation for all their hard work. Having two minutes to enjoy these treats together and say thank you has always improved staff morale.

Do you have any tips to help others who may be in a similar situation to yourself?
Teamwork has kept me going throughout the pandemic. My life would have been one hundred times harder without having my colleagues by my side and I’m truly grateful for their support and hard work. It’s not one person serving the whole community throughout this pandemic, it’s a collection of people coming together to ensure the wellbeing of the public. Every pharmacist, dispenser, technician, delivery driver, whoever I’ve had the honour of working with, they are my pharmacy heroes and they truly deserve to be celebrated!

What piece of advice would you give someone who might be struggling with their mental health right now?
You may be socially distant from others, but you are not alone. Reach out to your friends, family and loved ones – they’re only a phone call or video call away, and that can make all the difference. The same counts for a doctor; their practices may be closed to the public, but their telephone lines remain open for help and advice as always.

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