My life as a Pharmacy Technician
My name is Lesley, and I work as a pharmacy technician at University Hospitals Plymouth.
When you work in the NHS the job is ever-changing. Being part of the pharmacy family, we integrate with these changes to always improve systems of work and processes that lead to better patient centred care.
My technician career has spanned over 30 years and even now, the role is evolving. In the last year alone the pharmacy technician role has changed to a two year apprenticeship with college providers.
Pharmacy technicians, in the not so distanced past were not recognised by the General Pharmaceutical Society. That has all changed and we are now registered professionals. I would highly recommend anyone seeking a career in the NHS to have a look at the challenging varied and exciting role of pharmacy technician. As a Mum and Grandma (my daughter is a pharmacy technician) I would endorse anyone seeking a fulfilling career in healthcare to look at pharmacy services.
Previous to this I worked as an auxiliary nurse and as a physio aid at St Peters Hospital in Surrey. On relocating to Plymouth I decided to pursue a change of career. I still wanted to be involved in healthcare so I researched other healthcare roles. Looking at all these exciting roles, the job of a trainee pharmacy technician appealed to me. I was under no illusions and knew that studying to be a technician would be challenging, as I also had a young family at the time.
I successfully applied for a trainee technician job in a retail community pharmacy. This period of learning consisted of in-house training over three years. The skills I learned were first as a counter assistant, which included labelling and dispensing prescription medicines, over the counter sales and consultation skills. I found the patient contact very rewarding; helping and advising patients with their medication regimes (within my capabilities and professional boundaries).
Having completed my counter assistant’s course and gaining experience, I progressed to trainee technician. Part of this role is to train to check and sign-off dispensed prescriptions. I was aware that training to be the person responsible for signing off patients medications before they left the pharmacy was a massive responsibility. These were skills that I embraced. I developed not only as a pharmacy technician but also as a person. I get a lot of job satisfaction that has stayed with me throughout my career processing people’s medications.
Although working in the community pharmacy was a brilliant job, I wanted to seek other opportunities and skills that pharmacy technicians could have in their portfolio. These opportunities were predominately hospital based. I then made a career decision to move from retail to hospital services. Once again this was a decision that was not easy for me to make as my family were still quite young and moving into the hospital environment taking on new skills and challenges once again was something I wanted to embrace.
My decision was rewarded as I took on new roles such as medicines management controlled drugs processes; I also trained as an inanimate keyworker assessor.
Other responsibilities that I have been involved in are taking our pharmacy services from a centralised system to ward based. This involved training staff to work on the wards which I had vast experience from my medicines management role.
Pharmacy is a fast-paced ever-changing environment and no two days are ever the same. This keeps the role interesting and fulfilling as we are constantly learning new skills. I enjoy being a Pharmacy Technician and feel we have a positive impact on patient care by providing an efficient service and enabling a smooth transition back into the primary care setting.
I have been a Pharmacy Technician for around three years but have worked in pharmacy for over 10 years.
I started my journey in community pharmacy and made the transition into hospital pharmacy 18 months ago to broaden my skill set. The two year pharmacy technician course is not the end of the training process as we are continually learning every day and there are several further courses available for our personal development. I completed the Accuracy Checking course whilst still in community pharmacy enabling me to relieve the pressure on the pharmacist(s) by conducting the final accuracy check on prescriptions before they leave the pharmacy department.
Since joining the amazing team at Derriford I have also enrolled onto the Medicines Optimisation course which enables me to spend time on the wards with the patients ensuring any medication they have brought into hospital is suitable for use and facilitating inpatient supply requests and preparation of TTAs. I am also able to be part of the Medicines Reconciliation process which ensures patients are prescribed all of their regular medication prior to admission whilst they are a hospital inpatient. Although the bulk of my day consists of spending time on the wards fulfilling my Medicines Optimisation role and labelling, dispensing and accuracy checking prescriptions there are several other aspects to my role.
I could be involved in the dispensing of specialist hospital only medication that requires specific monitoring, such as clozapine or in stock management to ensure stock levels are correct in order to fulfil requests in a timely manner. I may also spend time in the controlled drugs room dispensing medications that have the potential for abuse and thus specific legal requirements for dispensing. I also contribute to the dispensing of medication for specific outpatient clinics such as Dermatology, REI and Neurology.