Best of the Best award star

COVID Cares Pharmacy Technician

Naureen Alam

Pharmacy Technician

Photo by Valerie Plesch; produced by Natalie Gialluca
Drugs icon CVS #4038 Maps icon 19305 Ruby Drive
Leesburg, Virginia


Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from St. John’s University in Jamaica, New York


  • 17 years with CVS in Virginia as a pharmacy technician
  • 2 years with Rite Aid in New Jersey as a pharmacy intern
  • 4 years at Neighborcare in New Jersey as a pharmacy intern

Years in pharmacy


Naureen Alam won our 2021 COVID Cares Pharmacy Technician award because of her service to her community during the pandemic. She doubled down on her commitment to customers during their time of need—helping patients get items through the drive-thru or delivered—and does her part toward fighting COVID-19 by running tests and giving immunizations. Why? It’s in her blood. She has several members of her family in pharmacy, including her daughter, fellow 2021 Best of the Best winner, Sidrah Alam.

Here, Alam discusses why she became a pharmacy technician, what she did to go above and beyond at the pharmacy throughout the pandemic, and why she cares so much for customers all the time.

Why did you decide to become a pharmacy technician?

My father owned a pharmacy in Pakistan when I was a child. I used to go to the store and see all the prescriptions. I thought I might invent a new drug one day. I knew I wanted to do something with medications. My uncle moved to America and got a pharmacy degree. I was very inspired by him also. When I moved here in 1991, I applied to pharmacy schools to become a pharmacist.

Health care has become a family legacy.

While I was in pharmacy school, I had two children. One of my children developed leukemia, and his condition was worsening. I finished my education, but it was very hard. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in pharmacy, but I never took the licensing exam. I started working at Rite Aid as an intern, and then I had my third child. When I moved to Virginia, I tried to take the exam. The Board of Pharmacy in Virginia informed me that the degree requirements had changed. I would need to go back to school and take courses for my Pharm.D., so I decided to continue working.

I’ve been with CVS ever since, for 17 years now. I’ve been a lead technician for a couple years. One day I hope to finish the requirements to become a pharmacist. My daughter, Sidrah, is in pharmacy school. My other children are in medical school and pre-med. Health care has become a family legacy.

What is your average day like?

Since the pandemic started, we have been filling loads of prescriptions. The CVS where I work is a central hub. We fill more than 500 prescriptions a day and have two drive-thrus. On top of that, I’ve been doing about 40 rapid and 40 PCR COVID tests every day. I took the course to give COVID-19 vaccines, so I’ve been giving vaccines, too, and helping with prescription deliveries.

In the meantime, I am filling prescriptions, making doctor calls to request refills, or making patient calls to make sure customers have their medications. I’ve been so many years at CVS that all of the patients know me very well. I know them by name. They will call me and ask for things from the front of the store with their prescription. Whatever they need, it goes in the drive-thru—even over-the-counter stuff, like stomach medications or vitamins. It’s a pretty busy pharmacy.

What do you do to make a difference for your customers?

I do the basic things. I try to make sure their medications are ready when they come in—whether they need a simple refill or a prior authorization. Sometimes when people come in, their medication is very high cost. I always run the SingleCare coupon. It makes such a difference to see the smile on people’s faces when their medication is $300 or $400 and the price drops to $50.

In [the pandemic], people need even more help.

I try to put myself in their place. If something happens to me and I can’t afford a costly medication, what will happen? Sometimes people won’t pick up their medication because it’s too expensive. The coupons have really saved people’s lives. Sometimes customers tell me I am a coupon queen. I always ask everybody who is working with me, “Did you run the coupon for them?” 

During the pandemic, many people lost their jobs. If they get sick, or if their children get sick, it can be hard to afford the treatment. Discount cards are making people’s lives much easier. Before there were coupons, people who didn’t have insurance had to pay all this money.

What drives you to go above and beyond for your customers?

I feel happy, and I am a people person. If I go to the pharmacy, and I’ve been sick, it makes me feel better if someone treats me with a smiling face. In many cases, I see moms who have not been sleeping for days because their children are sick. They come to pick up the prescription. If I treat them well, half of their worries go away. That’s how I feel. It is not a burden. I’m not doing it for money. It’s in me to be a patient, smiling person—in the pharmacy and in everyday life.

I think that if you’re working in pharmacy, like all medical fields, there should be compassion in you. You should have sympathy for customers. If I’m a customer, I would like the same thing for myself. Sometimes customers are lonely, and they will come talk to me. It’s like a family relationship. 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your pharmacy?

One week, during the beginning of the pandemic, one of the technicians in our store had a fever. Everyone was afraid it might be COVID-19, so everyone stayed home. For a whole week, it was just me and the pharmacy manager who came in. 

Things like this won’t make me run away. In these conditions people need even more help. We were running around like crazy that week, but nothing stopped me from coming to work. I knew this is the time people needed me most. 

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

It’s when a person is satisfied and customers say thank you. One person always calls me when she needs something and tells me how happy she is that I am here. That is really rewarding. 

If I can make a person’s cost less, if I can make them comfortable, if they can talk to me about how they feel, I feel important every day of my life that they are coming to me, and are calling me by my name. It makes me feel really satisfied to think that I’ve done something good in my life.

Praise from customers

“Naureen is always a smiling face. No matter the day, I always see her there helping. During the pandemic, she was there nearly every day. Whenever I had a problem, I asked to speak to her and she would calmly explain the situation in terms I could understand.” 

“One time my doctor sent a prescription to a different pharmacy and I was really not feeling well. She made sure to quickly get the transfer and even found a coupon online for me.”

“Naureen has worked for CVS for years. I always see her no matter what. She is very educated about the medications and so kind and caring.”