Meet my job
Ever wondered what being a pharmacist entails? Nicole Joubert, 26, shares her prescription.
How I got my job Medicine and healing always fascinated me, but student numbers for pharmacology are limited and I had to work really hard on maths and science at school to get into North-west University. After my degree, I did a compulsory one-year pharmacy internship, followed by a year of community service at Joburg’s Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. After that, I moved to Cape Town and got a job with Dis-chem.
What I do Many people think all we do is count pills and stick labels on bottles, but there’s much more to the job than that! You need good people skills, an ability to work well under pressure and
a team-player approach. The most crucial part of the job is ensuring that medication is correctly prescribed, which may involve checking with the doctor, as we advise patients on the dosage, side-effects, generic equivalents and medical aid cover.
The hardest part of my job It can be challenging to keep customers calm if there are medical aid, prescription or stock problems, so my aim is to be as helpful and clear as possible and to resolve issues together. The hours are long, often including public holidays and weekends. And the job is pressured and demanding emotionally and mentally, so I’ve learnt to take a moment to breathe and I use my days off (which are usually during the week), to recharge and relax.
What I’ve learnt Having to handle things when we’re under pressure has taught me to stay focused on one task at a time and to finish what I’ve started thoroughly before moving to the next one.
What I really love about my job Helping others has motivated me since childhood – I was the girl who shared her school lunch and gave extra lessons to other learners! Now, as an adult, I love being able to make a difference to people’s lives, even if it’s in a small way. I also enjoy keeping up with the latest medical developments. I believe we should never stop learning, and it’s great to discover improvements that will make things easier for our patients.
What to know about getting into pharmacology I spent some time shadowing a few pharmacists before deciding that this was what I wanted to study at university, and I recommend going this route, as only five institutions offer pharmacology, making it highly competitive. The job requires an ability to get on with people from all walks of life. And it goes without saying that you should be passionate about healthcare and medicine.
Interested in pharmacology? Check out these universities. North-west University nwu.ac.za University of the Western Cape uwc.ac.za Rhodes University ru.ac.za Wits University wits.ac.za Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University smu.ac.za