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Pharmacy Training

Top 5 tips for training a Pharmacy Dispensing Assistant

By January 21, 2019 July 9th, 2019 No Comments

Who do your customers first meet when they come into your pharmacy? More than likely, its a pharmacy dispensing assistant.

Pharmacy teams are comprised of different members, each fulfilling varying roles and responsibilities in their day-to-day duties. It’s well known that meeting regulatory standards, ensuring patient safety, and maintaining the overall running of the services and offerings that occur inside the pharmacy, lie with the pharmacist.

But, have you ever considered the importance behind training and developing the skills of the team member who in most pharmacies has the greatest patient interaction?  The blood, oxygen and nutrients of the pharmacy team. Without them, you will struggle to operate. Train them, and equip them with the best skills, and you’re onto a winner. As a community pharmacist, I know of the value my dispensing assistant brings to our team. From taking in, dispensing, and handing out prescriptions, to ordering, delivering and selling medicines over-the-counter, my dispensing assistant is indispensable. Not only does my dispensing assistant, free up time for me to concentrate on delivering more services from within the pharmacy, but they are integral in implementing a culture of outstanding customer service.

However, this is certainly not the case in all pharmacies. In fact, there are so many under-utilised pharmacy dispensing assistants out there. Galvanise and rejuvenate your pharmacy’s services, by implementing our top 5 tips in training the best pharmacy dispensing assistant. 

Top tip 1: Smiles go miles

First impressions certainly count, and you want to be leaving a lasting impression with your patients, ensuring that they keep coming back to your pharmacy for their medication. Customer service is something which is central to a good pharmacy dispensing assistant’s role, especially one working on the counter. Pharmacy dispensing assistants should ensure that they have genuine care and concern for each and every patient. One of the best ways to do this is by treating each patient as if they are family. Being understanding and polite goes a long way – especially since the medication is linked to illnesses, and illnesses can be mood destroying. The best pharmacy dispensing assistants are those that can change even the most negative of customers into one’s whose day has been made that little bit better, with a simple smile and words of reassurance. 

Top tip 2: Listen up…

What makes a community pharmacy team so great? It’s because they all have attentive ears and listen to everything that the patient has to say. WWHAM is an excellent questioning tool which allows pharmacy dispensing assistants to steer over-the-counter consultations, and gather all the relevant information needed to treat patients’ minor ailments. WWHAM is designed in such a way that it allows staff to initiate a conversation with patients and find out more about their condition. These questions also allow pharmacy dispensing assistants to approach any sensitive or embarrassing topics, rule out any possible red-flag symptoms, improve in communication and consultation skills, and refer when needed onto the pharmacist.

Understanding WWHAM

1. Who is the medicine for?

2. What are the symptoms?

3. How long has the patient had the symptoms for?

4. What action has been taken already?

5. Are they taking any other medication?

Top tip 3: Make your pharmacy dispensing assistant into a champion

There exist a plethora of qualifications accessible to pharmacy dispensing assistants and you ought to invest the time in gearing staff up to take on roles with greater responsibilities. The more services you have available in your pharmacy, the better the care you are providing to the community. Pharmacy dispensing assistants can be involved in offering stop smoking support, blood pressure monitoring, weight loss programs and advice on alcohol consumption. Another way of training your pharmacy team is by joining over 3,500 pharmacy dispensing assistants in becoming Health Champions. Health Champions are integral to your pharmacy obtaining Healthy Living Pharmacy accreditation. Take a look at the PSNC website for more information on how you could benefit in training your pharmacy team further to become an HLP. 

Top tip 4: The BNF isn’t just for the pharmacist

The British National Formulary, or the BNF in short, is gospel in pharmacy. Training other senior members of staff in acquiring relevant knowledge from the BNF is a must. If your pharmacy dispensing assistant is aware of what it is that they are dispensing, then it will save a lot of time with queries from patients and their families. Allow your pharmacy dispensing assistant the time to understand what each medication is intended for and any adverse effects to look out for with their administration.

Top tip 5: Stay ahead of the game

Keeping up-to-date with the latest advancements and guidelines in relation to medication is often difficult to maintain in many pharmacies. You don’t want to be in a situation where P medicines are misplaced and readily available for customers to pick-up due to a lack of training. Nor do you want to be in a position where red-flag symptoms have been missed, due to a poor knowledge base relating to OTC medication. Give your pharmacy dispensing assistant time to read about the latest guidance relating to OTC medicines, and POM to P switches. It’s unwise to think that allowing your dispensing assistant an hour to brush up on their pharmacy knowledge each week is going to hinder your work. In actual fact, it will lead to a more efficient pharmacy team. 

Need some help in training your pharmacy dispensing assistants further?

Join Mediapharm, and get unlimited access to our dispensing assistant training courses, accredited by the GPhC.


This article was written on behalf of Mediapharm by Hassan Riaz from Pharmacy Mentor.

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