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My OTC knowledge is poor!

When I began my pre-registration year, I had little knowledge about over the counter remedies and having no experience on the shop front I was challenged by this and felt like others knew more than me. My experiences in pharmacy were simply dispensing, labelling and dispensing more.

Early in my training year, my tutor encouraged me to learn using my modules and training days that I went on and explained to me that whilst familiarising myself with the content, I needed to also put it into practice. He suggested two things that I should do, firstly was every evening, walk around the shop, look at all the products and familiarise myself with the names, active ingredients and more importantly what they are for. Secondly, I was told that one day a week I was required to put the shop order away, this would allow me to familiarise myself with what medicines are GSL medicines and what medicines are Pharmacy Only Medicines.

Whilst doing this, in my head I also needed to tell myself one fact about that medicine that I have picked up, for example, as I am putting a bottle of Pholcodine away, I would say to myself ‘for dry coughs only’ and the same for Sudafed Decongestant Tablets I would say ‘Maximum supply 720mg’. This active way of revising really helped me remember key facts and when it came to looking at my theory, it all made a lot of sense. I did this for about 2-3 months.

Closer to my exam, my tutor explained to me that he wanted me to speak to customers when they requested to speak to the pharmacist, very daunting initially, however this ‘dropped me in the deep end’ and I felt like I had to know my stuff. Every time that I spoke to someone, I would recommend a product and luckily each time it was appropriate, and my tutor did not have to intervene, but where I did develop myself was after, when my tutor said to me what he would have given, most of the time we would have offered the same, but knowing this inside you gives you more confidence.

As a registered pharmacist today, one of my strengths is talking to customers, recommending products from over the counter and providing healthy living advice and self-care tips!

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