What has been your career progression so far?
I began my pharmacy technician career in Guy’s and St Thomas’ where I completed my student technician training and began working as a rotational pharmacy technician. I spend 18 months post qualification working in their oncology unit. I then spent a further two years at Dorset County Hospital as a pharmacy technician working in their Aseptic Unit. I was involved with chemotherapy and CIVAS doses (mainly for cystic fibrosis patients) bust also continued to work in their dispensary and provide a dispensing service for five local prisons which were a different type of dispensing to my previous experience. In 2011 I returned to Guy’s and St Thomas’ as a Senior Technician in their Oncology Unit, before moving to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading where I undertook a role a Senior Pharmacy Technician specialising in Oncology Clinical Trials. During my time at the Royal Berkshire, I was given the opportunity to take a secondment where I was the Deputy Aseptic Services Manager for 9 months. This gave me a chance to experience a more operational role.
Following my time at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, I then moved to my current role in 2016.
I am now the Training Manager- Technical Services at Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust which means I am responsible for developing and managing the training requirements of all staff within the two production units in the trust. This includes licenced and unlicensed activities across chemotherapy, sterile manufacturing, non-sterile manufacturing, CIVAS and Aseptics.
What is your current role and what does a ‘normal’ day look like?
I don’t really have a normal day!
As I am responsible for all of the training within the department (this includes induction training of all staff, aseptic technique training etc), my day varies depending on whether or not I have new staff joining the team. If I have new staff joining, I spend a lot of time doing one to one teaching sessions to provide the theory around Good Manufacturing Practice, and information regarding how isolators, laminar flow cabinets and cleanrooms function and the behaviours that we expect of people working in a manufacturing environment. This is very important so that the new staff can understand the potential impact they can have on the cleanroom environments and how they must operate to provide pharmaceutical products of the appropriate quality and also so they are compliant with the expectations of our regulator- the MHRA.
If I am not training new staff, I have a lot of administrative work to do. For example, creating new training documents as I am implementing a new training system to replace a previous version. I am also working doing a lot of preparatory work to develop an electronic Quality Management System. There are various modules within an eQMS to ensure that the functions required by the MHRA are carried out, recorded and are auditable in line with the requirements of the MHRA.
I am developing the training module which will help to move from a heavily paper-based system to a more electronic system. This will also be able to demonstrate compliance more easily. At the moment I have a spreadsheet for all staff (about 70) which can be time-consuming to maintain when I work alone. A lot of time is spent assessing, recording and filing the current training documents which new staff have to complete, but all staff also do annual revalidations. All aseptic staff must carry out regular aseptic operator broth validations, therefore I review the database once every couple of weeks to notify staff when their revalidation is due and to issue worksheets for them.
Additionally, I am involved in the recruitment of staff, carry out appraisals and run training sessions for the team, respond to consultations on behalf of the department and attend regional meetings as required. Twice a year I facilitate the training programme and teach groups of Pre-Registration Pharmacists which takes a lot of my time in terms of preparation and coordination before they arrive, and also during the two weeks, they are in the department.