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PSS Shining Star is a PSS initiative that features individuals who embody the exceptional qualities of a community pharmacist.

Name of Pharmacist: Chan Li Min Carolyn


1. Why did you choose pharmacy as your profession?

When I was young, I used to help my late grandmother with her chronic medicines. Since then, I wanted to become a healthcare professional to be able to help others to live healthier and empower people to take care of their own health.

2. Why did you choose to be a community pharmacist?

Being a community pharmacist allows me to be the first source of professional help for people when they need advice or a listening ear. Some people may think that a community pharmacist only stands behind the pharmacy counter and sells medicines. I wanted to show that being a community pharmacist is more than just that. Customers come to me for various reasons, sometimes it is to look for recommendations on supplements and health products, other times it is to seek professional advice on the management of minor ailments and chronic conditions. I am always happy to be able to help them in these ways. 


3. What helped/motivated you to be where you are today?

When customers come back and thank me for my help describing how it benefited them, it motivates me significantly and reminds me why I am here doing what I am doing. It is heart-warming and encouraging to know that customers trust my professional opinion and that I really made a difference in their lives.


4. What are some challenges that you face as a community pharmacist?

I see people on their good days and also on their bad days. When I encounter customers who may be difficult, I always ask myself how I can help them to step out of the pharmacy happier than when they came in. It is challenging because not all the time I succeed. Some customers may just be mean and rude. For such customers, it is important to isolate the incident and not let it affect my morale.


5. What is your advice for your fellow pharmacists and for people who are considering this career?

Do it if you want to help others and enjoy interacting with people! As much as it is a fulfilling career, there are definitely ups and downs during this journey as well. Not all the time we see the results of our efforts, but what's most important is that we give our best during each encounter with a patient or customer. Sometimes when we burn out or feel tired, it is vital to take a step back, remember why we are here and rekindle the passion in us!


6. Share a typical day at work and how it has changed in this COVID-19 situation.

The moment when I set foot in the pharmacy, I have to be on the ball as customers will start coming in. They may come in to fill a prescription, seek advice on what medicines to take for their symptoms or ask for recommendations on supplements and other products. Apart from helping customers with their queries and dispensing medications, I also oversee the operations of the pharmacy including inventory management, staffing and more.

During this COVID-19 period, it was especially tough at the beginning because people were panicking and frantically looking for masks and sanitisers. Most of my days were spent calming customers down, advising them to buy responsibly and not hoard, as well as teaching them how to maintain good personal hygiene and take care of themselves well during this pandemic. Customers were also coming in to seek clarifications due to fake news going around which misled and confused people. It made me realise that a professional presence in the community makes a significant difference as it provides an accessible platform for people to ask questions and clarify their doubts with a healthcare professional especially during this crucial time.


7. Given that Singapore will be experiencing one in three citizens aged 65 and above by 2030, how do you think pharmacists can contribute to the healthcare of this group of people?

Pharmacists play an important role in health promotion and disease prevention. We can encourage our patients and customers, including seniors, to adopt a healthier lifestyle, manage their conditions well and age gracefully.

Community pharmacists, being highly accessible in the heartlands, also serve as a convenient touch point for seniors when they have health concerns. As we build rapport with our customers and patients, they will come back to us for advice and follow-ups.


8. What is the most memorable moment in your pharmacy career?

This has to be when I helped a good friend quit smoking. We were catching up one day and she shared about her dilemma of wanting to quit but not sure if she can do it. Soon after, she began her smoking cessation journey and asked me to help her. It was a challenging period for her and after 10 months, she successfully quit! She is currently still smoke free. I will always remember this because being able to help a good friend means a lot to me.


9. What do you think are the important skills that a pharmacist needs to be equipped with?

Definitely interpersonal skills. This includes communication skills and patience. As pharmacists, we interact with all types of customers and patients every day. Communication is the basis of interaction and having good communication skills enables us to understand and assist others better. Patience helps us to handle difficult customers tactfully while keeping our cool and maintaining a professional stance. Interpersonal skills are nurtured through experiences and interactions with others. They cannot be obtained from the textbook.


10. What is your wish list to your patients/the public who comes to you?

I hope that those who come to me will be empowered to own their health and take better care of themselves. I am here for them if they need help and advice, but ultimately, they need to be responsible for their health and take ownership of it. I also hope that they will have the endurance to see through any lifestyle recommendations (eg. exercise) because it takes time for their efforts to come to fruition and it does not happen overnight. So persevere on!



"Ms Carolyn was very careful, patient and diligent in recommending the right medicine to me and explaining carefully how to take the entire course of medicine and precautions, I appreciate her kind services and attitude very much." - Mr Lim (Customer)

"Carolyn is very friendly, helpful and approachable. Every time I go to Bedok Unity, I will look for her. She will always go the extra mile to help me on product knowledge etc. I appreciate her kindness very much." - Mr Tay (Customer)