Lead Technician, Education & Training, Pharmacy Department, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust
I left school at 16 and began working in any job I could to earn enough money to live on. I started in catering, but later took jobs as a despatch clerk, delivery driver and even a forklift truck driver! I grew up in a small village where my parents ran the local shop/Post Office. Hard work was ingrained within me from the outset as my two siblings and I were required to contribute to all tasks from mopping the floors, delivering customers’ shopping on our bikes and roller skates to selling cigarettes to my primary school teachers! These were different times, but my work ethic has stood me in good stead for my whole career.
Like most Pharmacy Technicians, I fell into the world of pharmacy by accident. I applied for a counter assistant job when I was 18 in a small independent pharmacy; I had no idea about medicines but took the job because I was very experienced in shop work from my childhood and always enjoyed providing excellent customer service. I was lucky enough to work alongside a young pharmacist who put all his energy into my learning & development. I was privileged enough to undertake my NPA Dispensing Assistants Course and went on to complete the Apothecary Hall Certificate. It involved weeks of exams and lots of travel, including a residential in Sunderland. It was a lot more demanding than the current Level 2 Courses but the content nowadays is much more relevant to the role itself.
After 8 years of working in 2 different community pharmacies, I was thirsty to learn more so I applied for a senior assistant position in the local hospital and was later lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to study for my Level 3 BTEC in Pharmaceutical Science. This was before the NVQ was common place, so I did not need to do this too, although I did complete it for my own personal development.
I registered with the GPhC in 2001 as a Pharmacy Technician and after setting up the ‘award-winning’ One-stop dispensing scheme and gaining some ward based medicines management experience, I decided to bravely leave the nurturing environment of the acute hospital to set up a Medicines Usage Review (MUR) Service in patients’ homes under the employment of the local Primary Care Trust (now known as a CCG). This involved taking referrals form GPs and pharmacists who were concerned about how their patients managed their medicines. I enjoyed supporting patients to improve compliance and stay safe to prevent re-admissions to hospital. Alongside this role I undertook a secondment with the regional education team, which used my own experience to help develop others by becoming a facilitator and later on the ‘Course Lead’ for the Medicines Management Course delivered by Health Education England (South East). This was a great time for me, but very busy as I also got married and started a family during this time but I found that I thrived on supporting others and it gave me a chance to help develop the careers of so many people expressing gratitude to the young pharmacist who had supported me initially. I completed my Foundation Degree in Medicines Management alongside working, teaching and running a home! Sadly the MUR service was lost during a re-structure, so in 2012 I applied for the post of Lead Pharmacy Technician for Education & Training back at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust when my hospital experience first began.
I now thoroughly enjoy supporting and developing staff into Pharmacy professionals at all levels. I am proud of being able to set up Pharmacy apprenticeships for the first time and being able to offer the same opportunity to young people as was kindly offered to me.