We are head down, tail up, working our way through a pile of prescriptions across the day, striving to use the skills that we are famous and respected for.
Some of the people waiting for scripts will be people we already know.
Others will be brand new patients, who we are engaging with for the first time.
Our job, of course, is to ensure that the doctor’s supply instructions and directions are foremost in the delivery of medicines.
That’s our role – to ensure that safe supply and accurate instructions leading to a satisfactory outcome.
But this crucial aspect of health care is notoriously under-taught – how to communicate with our patients.
This is a fundamental aspect and mantra in health care in my view.
We are slowly getting better at this, but do we think about this anywhere near enough?
After pharmacists graduate, and are thrown into a retail environment, they quickly realize what the bulk of practicing pharmacy is all about.
That’s why we need to foster the necessary skills to maximize one’s communication potential – it’s not only important for success with your patients and staff, but also for success on the career ladder and everything else you do in life.
The ability to communicate well is everything.
What could be more important than making a great first impression whenever a pharmacist meets a patient for the first time?
As pharmacists, it should be our absolute goal to start building relationship and trust right from that very first meeting with a patient, an get off to a flying start.
Because, if a patient doesn’t develop that feeling of trust, and yes – also likeability, towards you, you might as well pack up and go home, because that patient will already be thinking about how they can get to another pharmacist.
It’s human nature, and we don’t have very long to make a good impression.
Experts suggest that whenever we meet someone for the first time, that judgement about the other person will be formed in only the first few seconds.
About seven seconds to be precise!
This happens with anyone, even a random person on the street.
In those first several seconds, we as humans are primed to judge another person’s friendliness, cooperation and competence.
I’m not an expert at all, but I have three suggestions:
Facial expression: This is the first thing people will notice.
Few things could be better received that a genuine smile and a facial expression that conveys friendliness.
Smiling doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it’s the simplest thing you can do if you want to appear approachable or trustworthy.
Eye contact: Maintain eye contact in those first few seconds.
Don’t glance at the patient and then look away instantly – whether it’s to look at somebody else, a staff member, or anything else.
Eye contact shows your patient that you have their undivided attention
Body posture and movements: Does your body posture and the way you first greet your patient display an aura of calmness and competence, or does it do something quite opposite.
If you are clearly in a rush, hurried or looking tense yourself, your patient will sense that in a second.
These are just three things you can do to make a great first impression that says you are friendly, caring and a competent pharmacist.
And what about answering the phone?
Try counting slowly to three before you say anything, and pass that tip onto your staff as well…..please!