Reality Check: A Day in the Life of a Pharmacist in Ireland

If you’re considering a career in pharmacy in Ireland, then it may be worth knowing what your day-to-day could look like before you decide! Read here for more..

Ireland boasts more than 1,500 community pharmacies. Do you have your sights set on working in one?

You might answer “yes” for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re interested in the high earning potential, or the always-interesting work environment. Perhaps it’s the opportunity to care for others that motivates you.

Regardless, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. As with any other profession, the life of a pharmacist is easy to glamorize but difficult to comprehend for anyone outside of the industry.

That’s why we’re giving you an in-depth look at how this professional spends his or her day. Ready to learn what you can expect while you’re on the clock on the Emerald Isle? Let’s dig in.

Early-Morning Conferencing

A pharmacist daily routine begins with the sun. Most arrive in the office before it opens to the public at 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 a.m.

The first half hour is normally spent in communication with local general practitioners, or GPs. Did a GP send in a query late in the afternoon the day before, or overnight? If so, the pharmacist will respond to it as soon as possible that next morning unless it is a stated emergency.

Common inquiries include dosage clarifications and determining how certain prescription medications interact with others. A pharmacist will also address doctors’ questions and address any issues with client prescriptions.

During this time, the pharmacist will also look at the calendar and review upcoming appointments. There has recently been a rise in online appointment scheduling and prescription filling. So, this may mean checking a tablet or other smart device as well as consulting a paper-based agenda.

Team Reviews

As noted by one recent report, staff training and customer service improvement are key opportunities for growth presented to Irish pharmacies. Before the day begins to fill up with client requests, the typical day of a pharmacist will include a period of team briefing and reviews.

This will usually entail recapping the events that happened the day before.

How were customer requests handled? What was the overall level of service provided? Were there any safety issues to be aware of or any mistakes that could have been avoided?

Some of these answers may be quantifiable in nature. For instance, pharmacy teams can review average wait times or analyze customer feedback surveys to find areas of improvement.

This time of communication and collaboration is key to helping pharmacies stay abreast on any outstanding issues. It also helps them work proactively toward continuous process improvement. Plus, it’s an ideal way to help new pharmacists or interns gain access to senior team members’ expertise and guidance.

Website Tweaks and Technical Tests

Recently, the head of Google Ireland reported that companies in the country with a robust web presence can expect twice the growth rate and twice the employment capacity as their counterparts that fail to embrace the tech trend.

To this end, many pharmacies are deploying websites to explain their services. They’re also using them to expand their offerings and engage their local target audience in the process.

A day in the life of a pharmacist in Ireland will normally include some time set aside in the mid-morning hours to devote to website design.

Working in tandem with web developers and IT experts, a pharmacist can help create new features for the website. Then, he or she will test each one for usability and accessibility.

It’s important to note that advanced knowledge of CMS systems, coding and more isn’t in the job description. Still, it’s helpful for pharmacists to brush up on their web skills to stay relevant and future-focused.

From online scheduling functions to tools that allow patients to research generic alternatives of their prescription medication, there are myriad digital resources that these sites can include.

An online portal makes it easier for pharmacies to handle client requests for information. Complaints and other critical communications are also available on these platforms. Though most of these questions are pharmacy-related, the public may also have other issues to clear up.

For instance, someone may wonder which over-the-counter medications or treatments a pharmacist recommends or how effective certain holistic treatments really are. A pharmacist will be ready to speak knowledgeably on a range of topics, including these.

Possible Home Visits

Though it is not a standardized practice, some Irish pharmacists offer home visits as a part of their overall services. If this is the case, the pharmacist will sit down with the patient and talk about one-on-one his or her prescriptions.

If there are any questions about the medication, dosage, timing or other concerns, the pharmacist can answer them directly at this time.

This type of personal setting often allows patients to open up more than they would in a traditional, fast-paced pharmacy, surrounded by others.

Industry research reveals that older patients in Ireland are especially hesitant to speak on sensitive medical issues with their healthcare providers. From urinary incontinence to hearing loss, these conditions are wide-ranging and often require prompt medical attention.

By traveling into patients’ homes, these pharmacists can help mitigate those privacy concerns and offer a more comfortable environment for discussion.

Working Lunch

Pharmacists might be some of the most in-demand professionals in Ireland. But, they still have to eat to maintain their own personal health. Some may snack on the job and work through lunch. Still, most will take at least a short midday break of some sort.

During this time, however, many can be found responding to emails and catching up on phone calls. They may also be reading industry publications to stay on top of trends and developments.

Hours of Pharmacy Work

Head pharmacists often take on more of a managerial role within a pharmacy, working alongside technicians to help fill and dispense medications. During this time, they can also observe the store in general and take note of any issues to address the next day.

Being able to tackle these demands requires that pharmacists have plenty of training and hands-on experience in this role.

It takes five years of education to become a pharmacist in Ireland. These programs are available at three accredited colleges within the country. These include Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Prior to 2015, one could become a pharmacist in the country by completing a four-year degree program on a Bachelor of Science (Pharmacy) [RCSI, TCD] or Bachelor of Pharmacy [UCC] tract. Now, however, the requirements are expanded to include a Master’s degree in the field.

To achieve this graduate-level certification, aspiring pharmacists will complete a 12-month stint in the National Pharmacy Internship Programme (NPIP). This will be in addition to their four-year degree coursework. They will also be required to pass a Professional Registration Exam.

Key Considerations to Remember

As a pharmacist works the remainder of the day to fill customer prescriptions, he or she will need to be mindful of the following considerations:

  • Is this the correct dosage amount based on the customer’s weight, age, health condition and other medical factors?
  • Will this drug interact with any of the customer’s other medications currently taken? If so, how? What are the adverse effects expected, if any?
  • Are there any financial restrictions? If so, has the GP offered a generic alternative to the customer to help offset the costs?

Understanding the answers to these questions is essential. It helps ensure that a pharmacist safely handles customer prescriptions.

Updating Client Records

More healthcare offices are moving toward computerizing their client records. Thus, a portion of every pharmacist’s day is spent updating this information and ensuring all fields are accurate.

Reviewing this data helps ensure that pharmacists have accurate information on each customer. They can reference these records to check for possibly dangerous drug interactions. Or, they can even access them on cases of suspected drug abuse.

Are there any instances of uncertainty? If so, a pharmacist can seek the answers via that patient’s GP. He or she can also speak with in-house team members to clear up the confusion.

A Day in the Life of a Pharmacist is Never Dull

A day in the life of a pharmacist is an active one. First, you must be willing to put in the work required to pass the educational and training requirements. After that, the job only becomes more demanding — and rewarding.

Expect to be on your feet for much of the day, going back and forth to work with team members, clients and doctors on a daily basis to share your expertise. While the professional requirements can be profound, at the end of the day, you can put up those same feet, confident in a job well done.

Are you looking to connect with others in this field? Do you want to gain access to Ireland’s growing community of healthcare professionals? If so, we can help.

We’re an established medical recruitment company ready to respond to your needs. Contact us today to learn more and let’s take that important first step together.