How to be an Effective Multi-tasker

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Being a pharmacist working in community pharmacy not only enables us to handle patients, we are also expected to manage inventory of stocks, ordering, documentations, fixing printers, staff rosters, teaching new staff about EVERYTHING, …etc.  In set-ups where the owner is not working in-store and there is no retail manager, the pharmacist needs to oversee everything.  To think that our main priority is to concentrate on giving out the right medication and making sure that it is safe to take with all the other medications the patients have, we are also being trained to be multi-taskers.

Here are some techniques I use to be an effective multi-tasker:

Prioritize– write down on a paper the list of things you need to be done, and number them according to each one’s deadline. Doing this gives you a goal to aim for the day.  Marking down each one that is finished gives a sense of achievement too.  I suggest that it is best to have a diary of “list of things to do”, be it hardcopy or softcopy.

Most of the time wherein you are in full concentration of what you are doing, interruptions would come in.  We can’t totally avoid them so might as well to embrace it, but handle it one at a time.  An example of this is when I am in the middle of dispensing 10 medications for a patient with new ones added and with changes to the strengths, there should be enough focus to make sure I am doing it correctly.  Suddenly all the other things would happen at the same time too:  another customer wants to speak to a pharmacist, the printer would not work, the cut-off time for the ordering is in 10 minutes.  This is how I will prioritize: I will acknowledge the person who needs advice but will let them know I will be with them soon, I’ll do the order quickly, fix the printer as I need it for dispensing, finish the scripts, and then go to do counselling.

Time Management-Act on things straight away.  Avoid delaying tasks for the day as it would end up not being done at all.

Delegate– I have learnt to appoint other people to do tasks.  It is not a team if I would not let  other staff learn new things and give them responsibilities as well.  It is a way of empowering other people to be able to handle things. When they are able to do things right, acknowledge their effort and praise them for their achievement.  There should be constant encouragement and constructive criticisms as well.

In everything that we do, our aim is to be as efficient as possible.  Let us use our time and talents to its full potential.  Do you know of other ways to be an efficient multi-tasker?

Photo credit: ryantron. / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

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“I regret start…

“I regret starting smoking as a teenager, as I would not have known the things I have to suffer until later in life”

-from our patient. both he and his wife suffering from the effects of smoking.  They stopped smoking in their mid 30’s but their health is still affected even now in their 60’s. 

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How I Made a Diet Plan for My Favourite Dish

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There are times wherein it is not the 24-hour pharmacist that is in control, but the palate is.  With the Roast Pork Stew’s enticing aroma, juiciness, and mouth-watering presence, how can anyone avoid this?

It is like being hypnotized and forgetting about the side effects of having high cholesterol levels, what high blood pressure can do, or the chance of having a stroke.  My weakness is Roast Pork Stew!

I have researched, got tips, and taught myself how to make my own so as to have the freedom to eat it whenever I want to.  Now I found out it is not easy. From raw pork belly to the finished product, it would take 3 hours to finish as I need to cook the skin and the fat together with the meat, and that makes it more delicious.  Nevertheless, it serves as a treat for myself for doing the hard work and it is all worth it.

To be able to eat my favourite dish, I have come up on a “diet plan” to ease up the impact on health:

Quality, not quantity 

Slowly chew and with eyes closed internalize the taste of the food in your mouth.  That is the way to remember it longer that you are in bliss.

Slowly eating the food allows time for it to go to the stomach and makes signals to your brain that you are already full.  In that way, it hinders you from getting second serves.

Share

If you are happy, you would want everyone to be happy too, and that entails sharing that thing that makes you happy.  The best thing is to eat it together and talk about it’s perfect taste.  Unconsciously, you are reducing the portion size for yourself.  In return you might be receiving their favourite dishes too.

Let there be green color

The vegetables should have the same portion size as the favourite dish on the plate.  Equality in everything.  This is the way to achieve a balanced diet.

First come, first serve

This is my order of eating:

  • Drink a full glass of water.
  • Finish the soup.
  • Have a fruit.
  • Go with the main dish, together with vegetables

This is the discipline of making yourself partly full so you can still control your servings of the favourite dish.

Food should be appreciated and enjoyed all the time.  With the right technique, you can still be able to maintain a good figure.  Happy eating everyone!

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Bollywood Actress Suicide. How Can This Happen

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There was a recent news of a Bollywood actress who died through suicide. She was still very young and at the start of her rising career.  We would assume that she has everything: money, fame, great career…etc. You would think any person that has those qualities would be happy.  Nevertheless, she is the opposite: she would have felt miserable.

This was a life lost, and the worst, taken by her own hands.  If only this would have been avoided…

Specific situations that would give a strong impact on a person’s emotions would affect a lot on them psychologically.  Surely, they would be needing support.  We might be too occupied with our daily activities that we have forgotten to reach out to other people.

Actor Hugh Jackman’s campaign of “R U ok?” encourages people to have a meaningful conversation with friends as it can change a life.  It is giving support by listening without judgement.  They also provide helpful ways how to talk to your friends who you think might be suicidal.

There are other helpful sites/ centres that can help:

Lifeline, wherein they provide crisis support, suicide prevention, and mental health support service.

Suicide Callback Service provides professional counselling for everyone involved: people who feel suicidal, people caring for someone suicidal, and people who are bereaved by suicide.

Beyond Blue provides information and awareness about depression, anxiety, and other related disorders, and give encouragement to seek help.

Kids Helpline focuses on ages 5-25 to empower them to identify consequences of their actions, facilitate productive relationships with family and friends, and provide information for local support service.   It also provides counselling service for parents and caregivers.

We need to connect to each other.  Extend your happiness and care to each other.  Unexpected things can be avoided if we just make an effort and reach out.

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On Handling Complaints

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Working in a retail setting enables me to get connected with people.  It is very rewarding as I am able to build relationships with our patients.  We get to exchange updates on what is happening with our lives, get to know the weather outside as we are always indoors, etc.  Though there are tough times wherein there are customer complaints, I always hoped that there’s some way to turn it around and make it a win-win situation for both sides.  At one point I felt that Pharmacists get abused verbally.  It just so happen that some patients do get a very bad day and the next stop they went to is the pharmacy.  For some issues as products not charged the right way, miscommunication, a special order was not delivered, out of stock issues, problem with handing out patient’s changes at the counter… and so on.  At times it is not even our fault that it happened.  Even so, we are the ones that still need to face the situation and explain things.

As we try different set-ups to avoid these incidents, there are some circumstances that are just inescapable.  What I do want to retain is my composure.  I try to remain calm so that I would be able to think of better solutions.  There is no point facing anger with anger.  I try to always remember that I should widen my patience and understanding to them as health conditions affect a person emotionally too.  At least I am not the one on the other side of the counter getting medications.

I would like to share my secret to be calm even when you are faced with a “storm”:

1. Smile

Show just a simple smile and for sure it can lessen the impact of the situation.  By not frowning, you are letting the person know that you are open to what they are saying.  Another reason is let them have the wrinkles but not you.

2. Let them feel that they are being heard and understood

Use phrases such as: “I understand that what you are saying is…”,or “I know it is frustrating that this situation happened…”.  A complaint can be beneficial but it depends on the reaction of the receiver.  Let them know that you are listening to what they wanted.  In that way, this can make them calm.

3. Avoid using harsh words

 Avoid shouting back or telling harsh words because it will not help.  Whatever words come out from your mouth defines you.  Imagine that the person in front of you is your best friend and that the goal is that you will finish the conversation still as best friends.  It will be very hard as you would feel like you are a sponge that absorbs all the blows but cannot blow back.  Nevertheless, it is very rewarding thinking that you have overcome your own anger and that you have decided not be carried away by the situation.

4. Refuse but offer something else

At times what the patients are asking is really out of our control.  To help out with their problem, I offer them other options.  It would be good to have backup plans ready even before you face the patient.  Doing this makes the “storm” calm down quicker and prevents it from worsening.

It takes practice to really be good at handling complaints.  I have learnt most of these techniques from my colleagues as well.  It would help if you have someone you look up to that you can learn from.

Life is short so build relationships instead of breaking them.

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Our dear patient

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Last week, one of our patients died from a car accident. That day I remembered we were inside the pharmacy and we can hear helicopters around the area. We thought it might be a high- positioned politician, or a superstar that would be visiting us.  Joking around makes our tiredness go away.  But then, that afternoon the weather was gloomy and rainy.  At the back of our mind, we were hoping nothing unpleasant would have happened.  After a few hours a customer came in and shared her knowledge of what has occurred- there was a car crash near the area, and there was also a fatality.  According to the Weekender newspaper, the car veered away from the road and into a pergola.  The driver died but the female passenger was in critical condition, both were in their 80’s.

He was the in-and-out kind of patient.  We would see him go in, asks for his scripts which were kept on file, wait for his medications, pays for it and then out he goes.  He is not the type wherein he looks around, or starts a conversation with us, but you would see him have his shy smile.  He was always the ‘runner’ for him and his wife’s medications.  Even though we do not know him personally, the thought of him being our regular patient who had an accident still gives an impact.  I hoped he enjoyed going to our pharmacy and was contented by the way we serve him.

To our dear patient, may you rest in peace.  We are praying for you and your family.

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Where’s my hair?

Hair loss, also known as Alopecia

Our hair gives us warmth through the winter and enhances our face to look attractive. The way we take care of our hair reflects on how clean, and neat we are.  Hence, if our hair is thinning, it also decreases our confidence of ourselves.

An adult would have an average of 100,000-150,000 hairs, and around 100 hairs are shed off every day, but to be constantly replaced by new ones.  Sometimes, this cycle would be interrupted and therefore hair loss becomes evident.  Hair loss can be patchy or widespread, mild to severe.

The most common type of hair loss is Male Pattern Baldness (Androgenetic Alopecia).

Hair Cycle

Each hair follicle on our scalp has its own hair cycle timeline.  They take turns falling off and growing that we do not notice any changes.  For an adult male, the progression is:

Growth phase: 2-3 years

Resting phase: 3 months

During the resting phase, there is no growth already and the hair starts to shed off.  The follicles are held very loose.  When there is a noticeable thinning of a part of a scalp, or receding hairline,   then the hair cycle is being disrupted.  Growth phase becomes shorter and resting phase becomes longer.

Other causes of hair loss are:

  • Hereditary- due to genetic and hormonal factors
  • Illness- such as autoimmune disease, inflammation of the scalp, burns, high fever or severe infection, severe blood loss (would result to lack of nutrients in the scalp), Tinea capitis (fungal infection of the scalp)
  • Medicines- such as chemotherapy, retinoids
  • Hormonal changes- due to childbirth, thyroid disease, use of birth control pill
  • Stress- such as severe emotional blow
  • Rough handling- brushing too heavily, tying hair too tight, combing while hair is wet.
  • Harsh hair products- over- bleaching, using too harsh gels, wax
  • Poor diet- not having a balanced diet, especially protein.
  • Alopecia areata- having hair loss resulting to round smooth patches, the size of a coin.

Treatment

The medications to treat hair loss would stop the receding process, thereby promoting growth, but it would not cure it totally, especially if the cause is hereditary.  The earlier we treat, the more we prevent further hair loss.  Unfortunately for most of these treatments, once stopped, the hair loss would start again.

Minoxidil

Previously used as a blood pressure medication but with a side effect of increasing hair growth.  It’s now available over the counter.

Strengths vary depending on the condition

Taken for a few months to see the full effect.

Lotion/foam is applied to the scalp twice a day.

Not for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

Finasteride

A prescription medication that is taken 1 tablet a day.  Regrowth is seen from 6months up to 2 years.

Not recommended for women.

Spironolactone

A medication for treating blood pressure and fluid retention but can also block the effects of androgen hormones.  Women who have high in androgens can have oily skin, acne, unwanted facial and body hair, and scalp hair loss.   Not recommended for men, and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

Prevention

Avoid using too much hair products

Any gels, wax, sprays, or hair dyes should be of minimal amount.  We wanted to prevent any chemical reaction that would affect the normal hair cycle.

Applying shampoo and/or conditioner the right way

Start on the hair at the sides near the ear and then massage it going up.  In that way the impact of the concentrated shampoo/conditioner will not be to strong at the top part of the head.  Continue using a mild or medicated shampoo so as to also get rid of dead skin that may cause dandruff.

Eat a well-balanced diet

Protein, zinc, vitamin C and Silica would help promote healthier hair.  To have good

Taking care of the hair

Brushing the hair while it is wet can contribute to hair loss as the hair as still sensitive when wet.   When blow-drying, use the lowest temperature possible to avoid hair damage.  Tying the hair too tight can break the hair off easily.

Be relaxed

Stress can induce any form of disease, even hair loss.  Do relaxation techniques such as meditations, prayers, and yoga.  Avoid too much worrying.

References:

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Hair_loss

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Hair_loss_treatments

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003246.htm

http://www.mydr.com.au/skin-hair/hair-loss-overview

http://www.mydr.com.au/pharmacy-care/hair-loss-self-care

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Who am I


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My first ever blog!

In and out of the pharmacy, people I know would ask me things about their health conditions, pharmaceutical updates, etc.  Even in social gatherings, I would not be able to escape those small “consultations”.  Instead of being annoyed, I felt honored as it means that they are giving their trust in me.  These people believed that I would be able to help them.

The reason I am starting this blog is to reach out to more people on advocating healthy living.  By using this blog, I am not restricted by time when giving advises, as compared to when I am in the pharmacy.

Happy reading!

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