Three ways to find certainty in uncertain times

pharmacist talking with customer

It’s easy for pharmacists to feel as though we’re on shaky ground right now, but pharmacists do have some control, writes Vanessa Lontos

Over the past few months I, like I’m sure many of you, have been keenly following the process of the pharmacy review.  I’ve found myself curiously anticipating what will be discussed, shared and explored, what will be revealed, and ultimately what will happen.

By its very definition the word review includes ‘the possibility of change’ and so here we are in a situation where there is so much unknown and so much uncertainty and in the end, the possibility of change and therefore the cycle of uncertainty and unknowns continues.  I’m already feeling out of breath! 

This got me thinking about long-term uncertainty and how to be successful during these times.  It’s been said that “Our discomfort with not knowing can lead us astray – to bad solutions or to brilliant outcomes never spotted” —Jamie Holmes. 

And so here are three little tips to help you navigate these times a little more easily… and I hope they help you build toward certainty for your success.

  1. Focus on what you can control and make experiences count

Experts in human behaviour suggest that certainty is a deeply essential core human need and when we feel out of control (or uncertain) we will do almost anything to regain the feeling of certainty again.

The consumer experience is a key part of this review and this is a great thing because the way your patients experience you and your pharmacy is the one thing you can control. 

Think about what you say, how you say it, what feelings you are creating for your patients and of course what outcomes you are supporting – because this is how you can start to feel in control and build certainty for yourself.

  1. Remember the integral part you play in the industry as a whole

Each individual working in community pharmacy today is like a cell that makes up the body of the pharmacy network. 

And like cells often do, they carry out their unique role, without often considering the integral part they play in the overall function of the whole organism.  

Every interaction that occurs in pharmacies everyday is influencing the health of the industry as a whole and the health of our communities. You might only feel like a small part, but you are more powerful than you think.

  1. Start talking to your patients about the health outcomes they are getting

This review represents an opportunity to demonstrate how “community pharmacy continues to deliver quality health outcomes and promote access and the quality use of medicines”.1 

Each story is important. Make the intangible – tangible. Follow up with your patients and find out how your advice helped them. Ask the question, “What did you notice that was different or better since we spoke last time?”

A friend of mine once said “You can’t give what you don’t have”. Start finding ways to measure the outcomes you’re influencing and build your own evidence (and share this with the review panel!). 

It all counts.

Vanessa Lontos is a community pharmacist, former pharmacy owner and founder of The Care Project. She helps pharmacy owners, pharmacists and pharmacy assistants improve patient health outcomes and pharmacy business success through engagement, change leadership and professional service implementation.

[1] Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation Discussion Paper July 2016 page 5.

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