In simple terms, how would you describe what you do day to day?
Each day for me is different and that’s one of the qualities I enjoy most about my job. I achieve my ultimate objective of helping patients to get the most from their medicines in several exciting ways! On one day my duties can involve visiting patients and another, training pharmacy colleagues on safe transfer of care. My role as a care home pharmacy technician, as part of the local medicines optimisation team is very unique. I can support the safe discharge of care home residents across the interface but having access to the IT systems and care records for both the hospital and community setting enables me to provide more joined up care. I know the local systems which enable this are unique to my team. I also know it really improves the quality of care I can deliver as part of a team approach to care.
I get to lead on audits and write best practice guidelines.
I come from a family background of healthcare careers and I was always interested in medicines, how they are made, and work, to cure illnesses and support good health. I learned about the technician career through my brother, who was also pharmacy technician. I completed my BTEC NC in 2002, a programme I very much enjoyed! Concurrently, I was working as a pharmacy assistant. As a qualified pharmacy technician over the years, I was fortunate to be involved in various pharmacy roles; dispensary, procurement, production (sterile and non-sterile), education and training, medicines management and specialist roles; oncology, haematology, renal, and HIV. I worked as a senior pharmacy technician in all specialist roles. I was drawn to my current role whilst working in medicines management on oncology and haematology wards when I realised how difficult it was for patients when they were in the community. I often had patients come in with various medicines not knowing what they were for. I remember one particular patient who had been re-admitted and upon completing his drug history, he was doing everything wrong and had been clearly struggling at home. I felt I was cutting his journey at point of patient counselling on discharge but not really helping him. Soon after, a ‘new’ role across the interface was advertised and I immediately felt that this was the job for me! A decision I am happy to have made.
What makes you stay in the role?
Each day presents different challenges and ‘wins’. The satisfaction of knowing that I have supported and helped a vulnerable patient by ‘doing my job’ keeps me in my role. I also enjoy the multilevel collaboration involved to achieve success. I am learning something new every day. Learning is important to me.
Was there anything about the culture of Pharmacy, or its processes and structures, that attracted you? The various specialties I can be involved in or develop in as a technician was a big attraction. Knowing that there were so many work streams in which I could utilise my skills to support patients keeps me excited about pharmacy. And the role of the pharmacy technician and part they can play in care continues to evolve!
What is your mission statement for your role as a Pharmacy Technician?
Keep caring, learning and sharing. I think when you care you will also care to learn and do all you can for your patients. When you learn, it’s important to share knowledge and experiences; it is how we grow and develop ourselves and the workforce.
What skills and behaviours do you use in your role?
Effective interpersonal skills such as communication, active listening and questioning to obtain a good insight of the other’s’ perspective. I am open and approachable, honest and trustworthy and feel these are all as important in the job I do. Being able to manage time is key
What kind of opportunities has Pharmacy given you in your career so far?
Opportunities pharmacy has given me have included skills in preparing medicines, explaining medicines, participating in projects to improve care, train pharmacist, other pharmacy technicians and care workers around medicines use and more? I am currently undertaking a leadership apprenticeship course where I have learned and developed several skills.
How flexible are you able to be in your role?
My current role enables me to be flexible to respond to challenges and shape what workstreams we need to focus on if new problems arise. I am also able to keep my skills in accuracy checking of dispensed items through working in the hospital pharmacy one day a week.
How do you balance being a Pharmacy Technician with your personal life / hobbies?
I work long days and shorter days which add to full time role. This enables me to fulfil my duties outside of pharmacy and also enjoy some hobbies which include amateur baking, dancing, badminton, traveling during my leave and teaching in my local church.
What would you say to someone who is considering a career as a Pharmacy Technician?
It’s rewarding, with many different roles to choose from and affords you life-long learning! If you are successful and sponsored to a role as a student technician, you get to earn while you learn and develop a professional career.
How has your pharmacy journey changed you, as a person?
It’s allowed me to develop confidence, self-awareness, assertiveness, being more agile and open to change. I have improved my decision-making skills and manage conflict better.
What is the impact of your role on patient care and when have you felt you've made a real difference? Patients, their families and carers are supported around medication, so patients take the right medicine, for the right conditions at the right time. As a team we have spent a long time developing pathways for the safe transfer of care home patients in addition to other work within care homes directly and sometimes receive lovely feedback on how our support is valued so highly.
Could you tell us about your relationships with other healthcare professionals; what do they expect from pharmacy professionals?
I have the opportunity to work really collaboratively with various professionals in both health and social care. For example, in one current project, I am supporting a new system for ordering medicines by care home staff across South London. This has required great communication but also helped me understand the value of maintaining relationships and creating partnerships which enable people to feel more valued and engage with the agenda. I find other health and social care professionals come to us when they need help around medicines and expect good advice!
How does it feel to be part of your team?
My team is a high motivated team which really strives to work across the wider system to improve patient care for our elderly population. I get clear objectives and understand my ‘part in the play’; and also feel good about how I contribute to making this difference.
How does it feel to network with peers across sectors?
Networking is an important process in relationship building as it enables information sharing and supports ideas for improving! I think the more information known about people, the better. I am also a member of PCPA and APT UK. I enjoy attending the annual Clinical Pharmacy Congress where I gain a wealth of knowledge towards my own development in addition to getting ideas I can take back to my own team. I can also meet many former colleagues in the “pharmacy world” and have a good ‘catch up’.
What inspires you about the future of Pharmacy?
The more integrated it’s becoming, allowing for better holistic care given by the pharmacy workforce. I am certainly excited about the future of pharmacy!
What inspires you about YOUR future in Pharmacy and the kind of pharmacy technician YOU aspire to be?
The time I have spent in pharmacy and experience I have developed over the years puts me in a position to contribute to this great profession in various ways, i.e., progression of roles for pharmacy technicians in supporting the elderly, being able to support the adherence and polypharmacy agenda and decreasing harm from medicines use in our elderly population.