For this month’s Pharmacy Assistant Profile, Retail Pharmacy Assistants spoke with Lorraine Nehme, pharmacy assistant at Blooms the Chemist Castle Plaza in the Adelaide suburb of Edwardstown, about her career highlights, challenges, and tips for other pharmacy assistants.
How long have you been working at the Castle Plaza pharmacy?
Over 20 years.
Do you have a background in pharmacy, whether it be previously working for a different pharmacy or studying pharmacy? Is pharmacy a career pathway you’ve always been passionate about?
I didn’t have a background in pharmacy when I first joined the team, but I was working in another retail outlet in the shopping centre. After a holiday overseas I came back and applied for a position in the pharmacy. I loved the idea of helping people and a great place to learn about health.
I completed the Guild course for pharmacy assistants and was offered a job to cover someone who was on maternity leave. I’m pleased to say I’m still here 20 years later.
What are your other hobbies and passions/activities that you enjoy in your spare time?
Spending time with family and friends. I enjoy my garden and indoor plants – some say I have too many – and winding down with a glass of wine while watching true crime documentaries.
What do you enjoy most about working in pharmacy?
I love my customers. Being able to help and assist them, making them laugh and making them feel at ease and comfortable to come to me whenever they need help or advice is the best feeling in the world.
Are there any positive customer interactions that stand out most to you, and if so, why?
I’ve had many over the years, but one customer who particularly stands out is a lady who is hearing impaired and has other physical and mental difficulties. Over the years, I’ve been able to gain her trust and support her, not only in the pharmacy but as a friend as well. In the process I’ve learnt sign language, which also allows me to help more of our customers and people in our community.
What are some of the highlights in your career so far?
An absolute highlight was being nominated for Pharmacy Assistant of the Year in 2016 by a fellow staff member. I was proud and honoured and even made it to the top 10 in the state. It really reaffirmed to me my love of pharmacy.
What has been one of the most difficult challenges you’ve had to overcome in pharmacy, and how did you overcome it?
I would have to say the Covid-19 pandemic has been one of the most challenging times for us all. When it all began and we knew so little about this new virus, we suddenly had to contend with new restrictions, necessary mask-wearing and QR code check-ins. Many customers were unsure, scared and even angry, and sometimes that anger was taken out on the teams. But we all stuck together, maintained a positive attitude and somehow managed to keep everyone calm and at ease.
What is one thing you think all pharmacy assistants should remember while working?
Do the best you can to help people, don’t take negative interactions personally, and smile!
What do you think makes your pharmacy so unique?
Many of our team have been working together in the same pharmacy for a long time, sometimes 20 years or more. That close-knit relationship and sense of true family make for great teamwork, and I believe these are the things that create an amazing experience for our customers.
What are your plans for the future, and do they involve pharmacy?
I have no plans to leave pharmacy just yet. I’ve had a lot of varied experience in different areas within the pharmacy and I love the variety. I would love to travel more when I can. I’ve enjoyed travelling since I was 18. I’ve been to many different countries and have had lots of different enjoyable experiences. As there are many more places on my list, I’m hoping to start again soon.
To read the feature in full, as it appears in this month’s issue of Retail Pharmacy Assistants e-magazine, visit: rpassistants.com.au/magazines/retail-pharmacy-assistants-november-december-2021/