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A day in the shoes of Sam, Pharmacy Manager

“We are all always still learning and everyone at The Ralph embraces that.” – Sam Holland. 

Like in human hospitals, our pharmacy stocks and dispenses medications for patients. It is a core part of the hospital, and where you will find Sam, our Pharmacy Manager. Keeping the hospital well-stocked with medicines and dispensing treatments to our patients is no small task, so how does Sam do it? Let’s find out…

“I started my veterinary career as a receptionist in primary care practice and loved meeting so many different people and animals. When I started assisting in the dispensary at the practice I found I really enjoyed it, and was surprisingly good at it too! I was trained by a wonderful practice manager, who was incredibly knowledgeable. Her ability to answer questions and provide advice about the different medications was inspiring. It is because of her I strive every day to learn more about the veterinary world, and to one day be able to answer questions with the finesse she has.  

Sam counting pills before dispensing a prescription.

When I arrive in the morning my first task is to dispense the medications that have been requested overnight. I then read my emails, and dispense any requested medications for pet carers and get these ready for posting. Once my morning administration is complete I unpack our daily deliveries with the Pharmacy Assistants, Liam and Louise. We take this opportunity to conduct a stock check to ensure we have enough of what we need. Stock control is a key part of my role here; the stock I look after includes medications, consumables (things like syringes, surgical gowns, and handwash), food, and even the blood from dog and cat donors we use for transfusions. As a large hospital, there are a number of items which we use on a regular basis and therefore need to ensure we have plenty in stock. Once the stock check is complete, I complete a daily order to ensure we have everything we need. 

Time for some administration!

Another key part of my role involves researching and sourcing medications. Working with a range of specialists means there are some weird and wonderful medications which aren’t the easiest to come by. I find it really interesting learning about all of these new treatments, and then have fun working with our suppliers to source them.  

On any given day, my to-do list can include returning and disposing medications, adding new medications to our hospital system, price control and reviewing invoices from our suppliers. I dispense medications all throughout the day and get a good step-count in as I deliver them to patients in wards and in our ICU. Liam, our Pharmacy Assistant, is also our Laboratory Technician and he has been teaching me how to run our in-house tests and package samples for testing externally. This relationship works really well, as we both assist each other throughout the day and can spread the workload during busy times. 

When I am able to help out at the weekends I work as a Patient Care Assistant. This not only allows me to work more closely with the animals, but also shows me another side of the hospital. It gives me a first-hand view of what my colleagues do in their roles. This helps me to really understand what it’s like for them, which in turn helps me in my role. I really admire and respect everyone I work with, and the jobs they do. 

Sam feeding Ellie during a weekend shift.

It is so nice to work somewhere where the people support you for who you are, and not the role you do. If I ever need help with anything there is always someone to turn to. I am someone who asks a lot of questions if I don’t know something, and everybody here has been more than happy to help. My knowledge has grown hugely since being at The Ralph, and this is due to the people I am surrounded by. There are often occasions where my colleagues ask “do you want me to show you this…” or “have you seen this…” and I love that. We are all always still learning and everyone at The Ralph embraces that.

Sam cuddling Lola during her stay at The Ralph.

For any budding pharmacy managers out there, I would say juggling and time-management are key attributes you will need to master! Take the time to venture around the hospital and understand what your team members do. And remember that we are all always learning – if you don’t know something, take the time to research it and ask questions.” 

Thank you for reading our latest blog. If you can’t wait for the next instalment of our “A day in the shoes of…” series, you can meet the rest of our team here.

Take care,

Team Ralph


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