I’m back, with another “5 Minutes With…” and this month I have the pleasure of Interviewing Abraham The Pharmacist.
For those of you unfamiliar with Abraham, he’s a prescribing media pharmacist who loves to create weekly videos to Inspire, educate and empower the public. As nearly all of us will need to visit our local pharmacist at some point in our lives, this is the ideal opportunity to learn a little about behind the scenes and introduce you to Abraham and his educational videos.
*At what point in your life did you decide “I want to become a pharmacist” and why?
I always loved science and this was the subject I found myself most interested in at school. Growing up we had this really cool independent pharmacist near our house. He was called Mr Butler. Everyone loved him in the community, he’d help everyone and his knowledge was so vast. He would always ask us about our studies and things like that whenever we’d go in.
I think that’s one of the main reasons I decided to focus on my studies and become a pharmacist. He was very much an inspiration to me and my brother, who is also a pharmacist!
*Can you share with us what an average day as a pharmacist looks like?
Speaking from the viewpoint of a community pharmacist, part of the role is to clinically check prescriptions, to ensure that they are appropriate for patients to take. We also make sure that there are no interactions between the medications and that the dose is appropriate.
We also give advice over the phone. We primarily have calls from doctors, nurses and various different healthcare professionals asking us about prescriptions and potential interactions between different medicines and they’ll be utilising our expertise for their prescribing. Then we’ve got patients who call us, and walk in as well. When patients visit, it might be to ask us about their medication or to obtain advice.
In addition, we can provide a yearly medicine review, to check that people experience no common side effects with their treatment and to make sure that they are spacing the tablets out correctly. There is also something called new medicine services, which is when a medicine is newly prescribed. In this case, we will monitor how the patient is getting on with their treatment for example by monitoring any issues or side effects.
Another service we provide is emergency contraception. In these cases, we ask questions about the patient’s current contraceptive method and monthly cycle. We’ll also ask whether the patient is taking any medications or breastfeeding and whether they have any stomach problems. This makes it possible for us to recommend the correct pill for someone to take.
All of this is balanced out whilst checking the prescriptions throughout the day and managing the staff to make sure everyone is happy.
*During my research, I’ve discovered that a high majority of people aren’t aware of the full variety of services provided by their local pharmacist. Could you share a few ideas about how we could make better use of our local pharmacy?
Most people live within a short distance of their local pharmacy and I think a lot of people do utilize their pharmacy as well. From my experience, younger people perhaps need a bit more encouragement to visit their community pharmacist.
I think it’s important to focus on the fact that it can sometimes be difficult to actually see a doctor, for example, if you’re time-strapped, especially if you’re working and you’ve only got one day off each week. Or you might be working late hours and struggle to find the time to actually see the doctor. That’s why the pharmacy is so great as many of them have extended opening hours, such as from 7am until 10pm or even later.
There’s always a healthcare professional there and as NHS England’s campaign “Help Us, Help You” explains, pharmacists are fully trained. We study pharmacy at university for 4 years, after which we take part in pre-registration training for a year. Only then can we register as qualified pharmacists.
It’s helpful to remember that your local pharmacist is a bank of knowledge which you can access without an appointment and often at a time more suitable to you.
*You’re a keen YouTuber, what are your favourite channels/subscriptions? & how do you balance this with your work as a pharmacist?
My favourite YouTuber is an American called Marques Brownlee, known as MKBHD on YouTube. He does the coolest tech reviews – it’s not very health-related, but that’s my honest answer.
I see myself as a media pharmacist, my main role is to empower people with useful health information. Plus, useful clinical advice and knowledge about what to do and who to see when they have minor issues. It’s what a pharmacist does day to day in a community pharmacy but this is an online version.
I’m really pleased that people seem to love it, I’m getting 1.2 million views per month and about 2,000 comments per month and the channel is growing massively.
*What’s your moto or personal mantra?
I do a lot of YouTube Q&As and what I normally say is that free time is the enemy of progress. What I mean by that is, there are probably two types of people in the world, those with free time and those without. So, I think that we should always go for it, don’t stop working hard, you will succeed and you will get there.
*Finally, do you have any phobias? If so, what are they?
I don’t know if it’s considered a phobia or not, but I’m not comfortable with heights and looking down from a significant height can be terrifying.
The NHS has launched the Help Us, Help You campaign to encourage you to speak to your local pharmacy team to get advice right there and then – don’t wait for minor health concerns to get worse. You can find out more about what your pharmacy team can help you with at nhs.uk/pharmacyadvice. Thanks to NHS England for helping me with this post, and inviting me to partner on the campaign.