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Becoming an Independent Prescribing Pharmacist and Store Manager at Boots

Hassan Profile Image
Hassan (He/Him) | July 08, 2024
Independent Prescribing Pharmacist Store Manager
Boots always puts patients at their core and this value really stands out for me, which is why I have been at Boots for so long
Hassan in store

Tell us a bit about you and your career journey with Boots so far?

My name is Hassan and I am currently based in Dundee as an Independent Prescribing Pharmacist Store Manager. I have been qualified as a Store Manager since 2012, an Independent Prescriber (IP) since 2017 and been a Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP) since 2023.

I have been with Boots since 2010. In my third year of university, having previously done placements at other community pharmacies, I decided to do a summer placement at Boots as this would let me see something different and would allow me to have Boots as an option for my trainee Pre-registration year. After qualifying as a Pharmacist in 2011, I was able to learn more about over the counter (OTC) medication, do some calculations, take part in consultations with the Pharmacist and understand more about the Boots business values. I feel like I was exposed to all aspects of dispensing including the variety of pharmacy services offered and I really learnt a lot. The team were very friendly, everything felt structured and safe – I even stayed on for another few weeks to help support the area as a Relief Dispenser.

After my summer placement I decided that I really wanted to do my training with Boots. I did my Pre-registration year with the Perth store and I really enjoyed my time – I had the best training year! I was very involved in all aspects of the store and the training itself was very well organised with a lot of help and support available by the Boots Healthcare Academy Trainers (HATs) and my tutor. Perth was a fantastic store to do the training year as it was great for the variety of OTC queries, complex dispensing needs, consultation experience and care homes experience. Plus, since this store was on the high street it was really busy with patients walking in with interesting OTC queries. I also had the ability to refer to the Boots Opticians in store for more complicated eye queries (which you could learn from).

Working here really helped my clinical knowledge and I was heavily involved in pharmacy services such as emergency hormonal contraception (EHC), smoking cessation, oxygen supply, visits to care homes and the minor ailments service. I would recommend to any Trainee Pharmacist to be involved in all aspects of the store as it will help your training and doing many consultations will enhance your knowledge and confidence. I also spent some time with the store manager understanding leadership skills and the business side; I found this very interesting, and realised that I would be keen to go down the management route over time.

Tell us about becoming an Independent Prescriber…

In 2016 I was really interested in doing the Pharmacist Independent Prescribing programme as I knew this was something that would benefit my store and the patients. I was also interested in increasing my clinical knowledge and being able to do more as a Pharmacist for the community. I completed the course and started to work with the healthboard on a new study to help eradicate Hepatitis C from Tayside and in addition, I was also able to do ‘common clinical conditions’ (now called Pharmacy First Plus) in which I was able to prescribe for acute conditions in the pharmacy. This was fantastic as this helps support the GP surgery, Out of Hours and patients in the wider community. This service is a fantastic service and is the future of community pharmacy in Scotland with pharmacies being the first point of contact for many patients.

Since becoming an Independent Prescriber (IP) I have become more competent, confident and have increased my scope of practice (which conditions I will prescribe/advise for). It is now easier with customers coming in with an ailment, such as an ear infection, tonsilitis or chest infections, doing an examination and prescribing for them (if appropriate). This makes the patient journey so much smoother and benefits everyone.

I am now a Pharmacist Store Manager and I am also a Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP) for Trainee Independent Prescribing Pharmacists. There is a lot of training and support available at Boots, including arranging for all Scottish Boots IPs to have face to face training days every six months, which is fantastic for peer reviews, Continuous Professional Development (CPD) learnings and to address further training needs. Boots really understand the importance and value of the IPs so are very supportive and helpful with the application process, during the IP course and once you are qualified.

Hassan in Boots store

What would your advice be to other Pharmacists considering becoming an Independent Prescriber?

My advice would be to encourage all Pharmacists to have a serious discussion about being an Independent Prescriber as it is life changing and enables you to do a lot more at the pace that you feel comfortable, and Boots have always been very supportive. I would advise it as it enhances your job and moves you in the right direction of where community pharmacy is heading. The course itself can be a lot of work but the reward is so much greater. Any Independent Prescribers I know are always happy to talk about the course and what it involves, you are not alone and I know everyone involved would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

What do you love most about your role as a Pharmacist and a Store Manager?

I love being a Pharmacist and being able to help patients; I like to see a patient’s journey from when they come into the store and you are able to make a real difference in their life. I have many patients that will always pick the pharmacy first over other healthcare providers as they know that Pharmacists (especially in Scotland) are in a good position to help them whether it is for advice, use of Patient Group Directives (PGDs) or even as an Independent Prescriber. We are in an ideal place to intervene and refer to another healthcare provider, where appropriate. For example, I had a patient come in and after doing a routine blood pressure check, we quickly realised that they have high blood pressure and were able to refer to a GP the same day. Boots always puts patients at their core and this value really stands out for me, which is why I have been at Boots for so long.

I love the variety that you can only get at a community pharmacy as every day is not the same and I work with a really good team. I also really enjoy being a Store Manager, leading a team and having exposure to both pharmacy and retail, this keeps it interesting and challenging.

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