Hello, my name is Lyndsey. I cannot believe that I have been a qualified pharmacy technician for 20 years, it has really flown by.
Prior to this, I was a qualified beauty therapist which happened to equip me nicely with knowledge about the human body prior to undertaking the BTEC National Certificate in Pharmaceutical Science at Bradford College. This course was a far cry from electrolysis and eyebrow trims. I then rotated through specialities like aseptics, inpatient and outpatient dispensaries and my last role as a senior technician supporting the introduction of ward-based pharmacy services at St. James Hospital. In time, I felt I needed a different challenge and decided to apply for a senior technician role in primary care in 2004. This was a real culture shock. As soon as I had started, I enrolled on the foundation degree in Medicines Management at Liverpool University which meant I was one of the first cohorts of technicians in the country to hold this qualification. During this time, I delivered benzodiazepine reduction clinics in GP practices and whilst these were fulfilling they were also very emotive and tough.
To cut a long story short in terms of my career in primary care, I am now the Medicines Safety Officer for NHS Wakefield CCG. This is a full-time role with a variety of roles and responsibilities which means that no day is the same, which I really like. I work autonomously the majority of the time and I love my role because it is very clinical and rewarding, although I totally understand where my professional boundaries lie. The lines between what pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can/can’t do continue to be blurred. This is especially stark in primary care as the development of clinical pharmacy roles in general practice continues at pace. When someone asked me what I do, I say that I am a pharmacy technician and they respond most of the time ‘oh you’re like a pharmacist then’ – what do you say? I think Pharmacy Technicians would benefit from the general public understanding a little better what our role involves.
I am proud of being a pharmacy technician and absolutely respect the knowledge and skills of my pharmacist colleagues. I do believe though that some advertised vacancies should enable pharmacy technicians and pharmacists to apply, not just the latter and should be challenged. I have the utmost respect for the Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians I work with; there is no hierarchy, we are just allocated roles that fit within our skill set and capabilities.
I cannot deny that sometimes I get itchy feet and consider other opportunities where I could transfer my skills, but I know I would miss ‘Pharmacy’. The landscape is changing quickly, roles are emerging that weren’t even anticipated for technicians, such as my own and the roles that pharmacists are achieving is so inspiring. Training and development opportunities for pharmacy technicians are really lacking in my opinion, I am struggling to identify training opportunities that are appropriate that would benefit me in my role as Medicines Safety Officer.
We all have a place, it is just a matter of defining our roles, responsibilities and professional limitations. We have the opportunity to really influence the future and harness all the skills we (pharmacists and pharmacy technicians) have to make sure we are performing to the best of our abilities and make a real difference.
Lyndsey Clayton MAPharmT is a medicines safety officer at NHS Wakefield CCG.