My volunteer story at Pyramid Pharmacy – Aneesa Ahmed, 4th year Pharmacy

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An opportunity to volunteer at Pyramid Pharmacy in Cannock during the COVID crisis was announced from an email sent by the university careers team.

Thereafter, I decided to volunteer with Pyramid Pharmacy to support its staff with the increased workload and pressure to supply patients with both their prescribed and non-prescribed medications. In doing so, I wanted to ensure the supply of medications to patients was both correct and safe and reduce the risk of mistakes occurring as a result of the increased pressure on staff. Also, it would allow staff to carry out extra duties such as consulting with patients regarding the COVID crisis.

As a fourth-year pharmacy student at University of Birmingham I believe I have been trained well from my lectures, practical sessions and clinical placements to be able to confidently apply my clinical and professional skills at a crucial time.

Part of my work in Pyramid pharmacy requires me to dispense medications prescribed and whilst doing so, ensure the prescription meets the required legal standards and is the correct medication for the patient. With multiple prescriptions, I also ensure there are no serious drug interactions between medications that may potentially cause harm to the patient, cross-checking with the pharmacist and ensuring correct adjustments to the medications have been made before it reaches the patient. I also help prepare blister packs for elderly patients who may need them to help keep a track of when to take their medicines. Finally, I also help to label prescriptions, order medications, and ensure shelves are stocked with medications for dispensing.

I believe this is important because it ensures medications are prepared on time for supply to all patients, particularly vulnerable patients that are in self-isolation. It also helps reduce the workload on members of staff who are required to do extra tasks on top of their regular work such as ensuring patients are maintaining safe social distances and dealing with any queries or concerns regarding COVID-19. In addition to this, with some staff self-isolating, shortages in members can increase the possibility of mistakes occurring due to the added pressure on remaining staff and so by volunteering I am helping to reduce this risk as much as possible and ensuring patient safety is not compromised.

Personally, it has helped to maintain a sense of routine in my life which has helped me to continue with my revision and not allow these drastic changes to have a negative impact on my studies.

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