Pharmacists Role: Perception vs Realty

Last week I came across an article on about a radio host Kristie Mercer from KiisFM’s Thinkergirls. It involved her heading to her segment’s Facebook page to ask the question why it takes so long to get a script at the chemist. She did this by posting a video of herself inside a pharmacy and going on a rant about having to wait. She described it as a “big mystery” and “like the seventh wonder of the world.”

Here is a part of what she said:

“I have to entertain myself because there’s a 15-minute wait on getting a script. What the ***** Like, I’m sorry, what is the hold up on the process? You hand over your prescription and they’re like, ‘Sure, there’ll be a 15-minute wait, here’s your little buzzer and we’ll be with you in 15.’

“Like, what is happening? I can see the medicine behind you; it’s like two metres away. Just grab it off the shelf and press print on the old sticker printer, slap it on and away we go. Is there some kind of magical process that’s taking place back there? Because I’m very intrigued as to why it takes so long.

“My theory is that they want you to walk around and buy lots of things which of course I will do. Because who doesn’t need 16 types of fake tan extra dark mousse. Well you don’t, but of course when you’re waiting here for 15 minutes you think, I may as well make the most of my time, you know?”

I am sure some of our readers have actually heard about this on social media as there was immediate backlash from the world of pharmacy. Professionals within the pharmacy industry and doctors took to her Facebook page to educate her about the role of a pharmacist. Words use to describe the video included ignorant, rude and ill informed.

When I first read about this immediately like others, I was shocked and offended on behalf of our clients. However what interested me most about this whole debacle was some of the public’s comments on the articles.  A vast majority of the public agreed with her. They too couldn’t understand the wait for medication and it was clear they don’t properly understand the role of a pharmacist. Phrases like glorified shop assistants, combative and that’s what the doctor who prescribes the medicine does.

Unfortunately this isn’t the first time I have heard these types of comments about pharmacy. I was with a friend a couple of months back and we got into a heated argument about the pharmacy industry. Some people don’t fully understand the hard work, knowledge and responsibility that comes with being a pharmacist.

However whose job is to educate them? 

I believe that ultimately it’s up to the pharmacists. Because without further education the public will continue to question what pharmacists actually do.

That is why I encourage everyone reading this blog to consider how we can collectively shift the perception of pharmacy. We of course have the Guild, PSA and other industry bodies however what I firmly believe will carry more weight is if it comes from the pharmacists themselves.

I think the public need to hear from the ones who help the elderly couple with managing their multiple medications. And the pharmacist who identified a six month script which doesn’t coincide with the other prescribed meds. How about everyone who answers all of the questions that a patient forgot to ask the doctor? Also the pharmacist who calms down a stressed out mother whose baby is teething.

 As you’re all fully aware there is so much pharmacist do. You’re the ones who understand the process and what is actually involved. 

So how do we educate the public?

As a marketing professional I think that pharmacy owners have a wealth of opportunities to educate their customers further about what they do.

Some of the ideas include:

  • Social media:

    Yes I know I preach a lot about social media. But seriously its one of the best ways of engaging with the public! Kristie managed to attract such a response from posting a video on her Facebook page. So many small businesses have gathered such a huge following and created amazing relationships with their customers from social media. That is why it baffles me that not all pharmacy owners are utilising platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.


  • Blogs:

    So this is something we are extremely passionate about at Peak Strategies and its one of the strategies that we most love. We have been very focused on writing content this year and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. We have had higher traffic to our website, taken on a different calibre of clients and most importantly our clients understand exactly what we do. Our blog is a platform to write and educate the public on what Peak Strategies is all about. I strongly believe that pharmacies should embody this same philosophy and start their own blog.


  • Website:

    There are so many pharmacies that still don’t have a website. If anyone wants to find out something these days where do they head to? Google of course!?! That is why it’s vital for some form of a website. The content on your website will also help with educating the public on what pharmacists do. This could include a FAQ page which addresses topics such as “why does it take so long for a script to be filled?” Rather than customers hearing from people like Kristie on Facebook, take control and have content to address such topics.

These are only a few of the many strategies you could implement for your pharmacy. Marketing isn’t all about sell,  but also for educating. This incident just reaffirms the fact that pharmacy owners need to start considering their marketing plan for their business.

We have often said that opportunities present themselves in the form of a problem. This is a great opportunity for pharmacists to learn from this experience, understand that perhaps their talents aren’t recognised in the wide community and here is a chance to get out there and tell the world how good you lot are.

Pharmacists are well educated talented people, but what you don’t do is get out there promote yourselves and show them what you can do to help. This is also  great to learn from and use it to your advantage.

Be proactive rather than reactive and your business will thrive as a result.

If you would love to chat about marketing strategies for your pharmacy, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Let’s work together to shine light about the pharmacy industry and how it supports the community in a positive way.