Arshina Patel, aged 25 years, made a success of running her own community pharmacy and placing her team “at the heart of the community” but it has not all been plain sailing.
In 2016, she “jumped at the chance” to take over the business at Hayshine Pharmacy – an independent pharmacy in Welling, Kent.
Being a young, female manager of a pharmacy was tough at first, she admits: “The last owner had been there for 40 years and patients were used to having that certain pharmacist. It was challenging, to say the least, building rapport with many patients who didn’t like change!” But change the pharmacy, she did.
“Even a little thing such as bringing flu jabs into the pharmacy, I was able to bring that service into Hayshine and encourage people to get their flu jab. [In 2020] people were asking for the service and that was brilliant to see,” she says. “I also set up chlamydia screening as I had a lot of younger patients in the community and I wanted it to be a place where they felt comfortable to come and talk to us. I wanted the pharmacy to be accessible to all patients.”
Patel had an interesting start to pharmacy management: managing a flood from the flat above; an essential member of staff retiring; and another member of staff breaking their wrist. “I would always stay behind to ungodly hours. But it was such an amazing opportunity being able to see first hand how you’re improving patients’ lives, especially during a pandemic,” she says.
She grew up spending all the spare time she had in the pharmacy her father owned and it always seemed natural to her that she would follow in his footsteps.
And her nomination showed how valued she was, her team extolling her as a “real hero to the Hayshine Pharmacy team, her local community and so many others and she doesn’t even know it”.
“Because of Arshina’s caring and positive attitude, this is not work, this is contributing to a service that helps the community feel healthier and live a better lifestyle,” says Oonagh Seymour, counter assistant. Megan La Roche, who started out as an apprentice and is now a pharmacy technician, says Arshina helped her to fall in love with pharmacy, built her confidence and she “couldn’t have asked for a better mentor”.
In 2020, a desire to impact patients’ lives on a larger scale has seen Arshina take her career in a different direction. In September 2020, she joined the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency as an associate signal assessor in pharmacovigilance activities.
Patel always wanted to make a wider contribution to patient care and this role helps her to do just that: “It’s my job to monitor medicines and make sure they’re still safe and effective for patients. Working in the community, your main goal is to drive patient safety, that was the main focus of everything I did. It’s brilliant to now be able to use that knowledge on a different scale.”
Patel may have left Hayshine but she has not left community pharmacy and continues to locum. “I don’t think I’d be able to stop. I enjoy it too much. It’s lovely being part of patient’s lives.”she says.
“Ultimately, the early starts and late finishes were absolutely worth it – Hayshine became a real family affair and I am very proud of, and grateful, to the five amazing women who helped me mould the business into what it is today,”
It is difficult to leave after working with a community for four years, especially those patients you’ve built a rapport with: “I had a patient when I first started who was diagnosed with breast cancer and she had got a letter and didn’t know what it meant so she came in to talk to me. I was able to go through and give her as much information as she needed. When I was leaving Hayshine she was in remission,” she says.
“What struck me was her drive to address health inequalities. Putting the most vulnerable first. Very powerful”
“Arshina has been pivotal in the success of her business”
Meet the rest of The Pharmaceutical Journal’s Women to Watch 2020 here.