In this CPD Action module, I’m going to show you how you can use an application called Trello to help you organise the workload in your pharmacy, but also to help you organise most things in your life.

It’s something that I use every day and has significantly boosted my productivity as well as those I collaborate with on there.

What is Trello and how does it work?

Trello is an online productivity tool, free to use, and is essentially a dashboard where you’re able to create Boards and Lists for anything you like. Within each list, you can create cards, and within these cards, you can do all sorts of things, such as attach notes, links, pictures, and deadlines. Your boards, lists and cards can also be shared with others.

Trello is great for overseeing everything that you need to do visually. It’s simple yet powerful and diverse, can help structure your tasks very effectively and can be accessed pretty much everywhere.

How can it help you in the Pharmacy?

You can use Trello to organise all facets of work in the pharmacy, all under one roof – that’s why I love it so much. For example:

Use it to organise your staff

You can set up a board named “Staff” and within this, you can have a list for each employee you manage, and assign them various cards, such as keeping a record of holidays.

Create boards for specific pharmacy topics

You could name a board “Clinical Governance” and begin building lists in there to structure exactly how you’re going to get it done. Or you could name a board “Quality Payments” and then begin to list the criteria on cards with direct links their relevant instructions on the PSNC website.

Create a board for potential business and prospects

Let’s say you’ve created a Board for GP surgeries and in there you have a list specific for the Manchester Road surgery. A while back you made a card to arrange a meeting with the Practice Manager for a specific day. You can move this card to a list of things that need to be done today or tomorrow and it will show up in there.

Create a board centred around your CPD

You might have a board specific for your CPD learning. Create lists around certain topics and if you find a learning module that you’d like to complete, create a card with a direct link attached to it and set a date and time that you’d like to get it done by. The options really are endless with this tool.

Trello can be used to organise other aspects of your life

I don’t just use Trello for the work I do in the Pharmacy. I have various lists for personal and admin tasks that I need to get done, and I use it extensively for the business I run online. I’m continuously updating new tasks and archiving them once complete, and not only do I know I’m getting things done, I feel a sense of achievement as I do so.


I’ve used plenty of productivity tools in my time and this one tops all of them. The ease of its use and functionality make my work and personal life much more seamless and stress-free, and I’m only using the basic, free option. It might not be for everyone, but if you like to be organised like me, it can make a big difference to your overall productivity and getting things done quicker.

Question time…

  • What other productivity tools do you use?
  • Do you have any other tips about using Trello?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below and if you found this module useful, it would be great if you could share it with your colleagues.

Thanks for visiting and see you in the next learning module!






What are we going to learn?

In this module, we’re going to learn about how to delegate effectively as a pharmacist in a team.

How and why is this learning relevant?

The ability to delegate well is such an important asset for a pharmacist and leader of a team because it can significantly improve productivity in all facets of work. However, mastering delegation isn’t easy. It’s a skill that requires practice, experience and time and is something that many pharmacists struggle with, particularly in the early stages of their career and when starting in a new working environment.

Delegation is an essential part of our work. If we can delegate most of the tasks that do not require our input, our work life will improve remarkably. In this module, I’m going to show you a system I have developed called the R.I.D system, R.I.D meaning getting RID of tasks, which when implemented, will always help you delegate more successfully.

Planning and Action

Why is this learning important?

Let’s break down why this learning is important for you, your colleagues, your patients and the organisation you work for.

Pharmacist – There are so many benefits for you as a pharmacist if you know how to delegate effectively. Delegating more of your tasks to others will free up your time in the pharmacy, reduce your workload and allow you to get things done quicker. It’s a leadership skill that can take you further personally and professionally.

Colleagues – By delegating tasks to your staff, it shows that you trust them to do the job and gives them more sense of responsibility. You’ll be upskilling your team and improving overall performance.

Patients – In a well-delegated team, workplace productivity is improved and this ultimately leads to better patient satisfaction. The happier, more organised we are at work, the better a patient is served.

Organisation – And finally, your organisation is gonna love you. You’ll be seen as a solid leader amongst your team which might open up other doors for you within the company.

What can we do to delegate more effectively?

Know your staff

Before I get into the details of the RID system, it’s worth mentioning this first. If you’re going into a new place of work and want to begin delegating quickly and effectively, the best way to do so is by getting to know your staff on a personal level first. It’s so much easier to delegate a task to a dispenser when you already have a relationship with them because a level of trust has already been established. This is a fantastic reference from CarnegieCoach.com which gives you guidance on how you can build bonds with your staff quickly.

Explain the “REASONS” why the task needs doing

The first part of the RID system is to explain the “reasons” why the task your delegating is important. Too often, a task is given to a dispenser with no background to it and therefore it is:

  • Less likely to be adhered to, and
  • Seen more as an “order” rather than a meaningful task

For example, let’s say you want to delegate the job of completing an annual complaints report for your pharmacy to Jen, one of your dispensers.

Instead of saying, “Hi Jen. I need you to create this report for me, please. This needs doing then that needs doing…”

You could say “Hi Jen. I have this task that needs doing. Now, the reason behind it is that as part of our Clinical Governance requirements for pharmacy, we need to submit all of our complaints to the NHS…”

Jen might turn around and ask more about what Clinical Governance is which is great! She’s clearly interested in the job, happy to learn more and purpose is being built around it.

Outline the “INSTRUCTIONS” involved

Once you’ve explained why the reasons behind the task, you need to give them specific instruction on how to complete it. So, going back to the previous example, once you’ve explained to Jen the reasons the report needs doing, you can say something like:

“To get this done, you need to go onto this site and collate all of the information on a word document as such”.

Write the steps down on a piece of paper if Jen finds it easier and make sure each action has been understood.

Give them a “DEADLINE”

And finally, you need to give them a deadline to get the task done. By giving them a time-frame, it gives the person more responsibility for the task. So once you’ve checked their understanding of the actions involved, you could say something like:

“Great. So, I was thinking this could be done for 3pm on Thursday which gives us time to look over it. How does that sound?”

By making the deadline a question, again, you’re giving them more responsibility and ownership of the task and you can both come to an agreement together.

Trust and Support

One more thing to add here is the importance of trusting them to do the work and making sure they know you’re there for support only. Don’t keep checking up or peering over them to make sure they’re doing it right. Let them get on with it and just be there on hand if they have any questions.


Delegation mastery is no easy feat. It requires practice, dedication and a commitment to make it a successful habit, but applying the principles above can help you achieve this. When you know how to delegate more effectively, your work becomes more enjoyable, your team will be more productive as a whole, and you’ll be developing such an important personal skill that can be transferred into all areas of your life.

If you’re new to delegation, then begin by delegating small tasks such as admin work for MUR’s or some other paperwork you may have, but always remember the principles in this module.

Question time…

  • What problems do you have when delegating to others?
  • Do you have any tips about how to delegate better?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below and if you found this module useful, it would be great if you could share it with your colleagues.

Thanks for visiting and see you in the next learning module!



Dispensing errors




What are we going to learn?

In this module, we’re going to learn about 5 practical methods of reducing the rate of dispensing errors in the pharmacy.

How and why is this learning relevant?

This is always a hot topic in the pharmacy world and has recently come to light with a couple of significant dispensing errors we’ve seen on the news. We as pharmacists are under mounting pressures and it’s always in our best interest to revise ways in which we practice to reduce the incidence of errors.

Planning and Action

Why is this learning important?

Dispensing errors represent risks in all areas of our profession. First and foremost, for the patient, it’s a health risk, for us as pharmacists, it’s classed as poor professional performance and could lead to criminalisation in some circumstances, for our colleagues, it could pose working relationship issues, and for the organisation we work for, it could damage their brand. Reducing the incidents of errors is absolutely in everyone’s best interest.

What can we do to reduce dispensing error rate?


One of the biggest underlying causes of dispensing errors is stress and being over-worked. The pharmacy can be a very stressful environment and we may be bringing personal stress into the workplace too. This combination will inevitably affect our judgment and dispensing errors are likely to happen.

Use the Pomodoro Technique.

Particularly in a very busy dispensing pharmacy, after every 25 minutes of checking items solidly, simply take a five-minute break from doing so – whatever the circumstance. There is evidence to suggest that this method improves focus by breaking down tasks, and therefore, if used when checking items, could help to reduce errors. It has been particularly effective for me in high volume dispensing, as well as other tasks I perform.

Click here for more info on the Pomodoro Technique

Exercise and Meditation.

Exercise and meditation are both proven methods of reducing stress levels and improving focus. The more we can reduce the levels of stress in our lives, the less error we’ll make at work. I highly recommend using an app called Headspace. This is helping to transform the lives of so many people and requires that you practice meditation for only 10 minutes a day.


This app can help to reduce your levels of stress and improve your focus


Talk to your colleagues/superiors.

I know that getting help in the pharmacy is difficult, especially if you work for a big corp where the budget is capped and rules can’t be bent, but simply talking to a colleague about your stress or feeling of being overworked can help to alleviate your levels of stress quite dramatically.


Clutter and lack of organisation prevent optimum workflow and can cloud your thoughts, which can ultimately lead to dispensing errors. This needs to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible.

Minimalise your pharmacy

Get rid of anything you do not need in your pharmacy. Paperwork, excess books, folders, the items you have stored behind your computer – get rid of it. A clear pharmacy is a clear mind. Rota this in once a week to clear the clutter.


This accounts for one-third of all dispensing errors. By making sure we take full caution when dispensing these, we will reduce the rate or error.

Place “alerts” in the right places

On the shelves of your pharmacy, stick “Red” stickers on the boxes of all of the medicines that could be confusing – you will know which ones.

And on your computer system, create alerts that will fire every time you dispense these items. Make sure all dispensers are trained and up to speed with this initiative.


As a locum, I’ve seen such a variety of procedures, but one that I think should be mandatory is intervening upon handing out medication.

Talk to the patient 

Can be done by dispenser or pharmacist and it’s a simple case of asking the patient to look in their bag to see if they have the correct medication before they leave the pharmacy. Likewise, if time permits, you could do this for them – the patient will be happy that you’re taking extra care.


Although It is mandatory that a pharmacy has a near miss procedure in store, the biggest problem I see in pharmacies is the lack of communication between pharmacist and dispenser about the near misses.

Communicate privately and with compassion 

Take the dispenser into the consultation room and talk to them about why they might be making errors, and work together to find a solution to reduce the rate of occurrence. Communicating with your team effectively is everything.


Applying some of the principles and techniques described in this module can no doubt help reduce the rate of dispensing error and prevent the risks associated with them. Most importantly, try to get into a better habit of procedure by applying what you’ve learned every single day, and communicate with your team around this on a regular basis.

Thanks for visiting and see you in the next learning module!