“I want to make a real difference” says Pharmacy technician Claire Cooper

What is your role now?


I am currently a Pharmacy manager of two pharmacies. I look after the day to day running of them and all staff who work there. I am a huge believer in pharmacy services, so we care currently in the process of getting both pharmacies registered as Healthy Living Pharmacies.

What roles did you do to get to where you are now?


I started as a Saturday girl after school with Lloyds and trained up as a Dispensing Technician. I worked in different types of pharmacies for a few years while training. I then went to work for Public Health as their Health Champion and I ran weight management services within G.P surgeries. It was a permanent role, so once ended, I went back into pharmacy.

 

What do you enjoy about your job?


I love working alongside a great team with some great people and helping patients. However small, I like to know I can make a difference in somebody’s life.

How much do you earn?


£22,000

What do you not enjoy about your job?


The travelling to work is over 30miles. I do 60 miles each day. Some patients can be extremely ungrateful when you try your hardest, which sometimes gets you down.

Are you a member of any pharmacy organisations?

 

APTUK. Registered on the GPHC

Who, if anyone, has influenced your career?

 

Michelle Dyoss, she believed in me and believed I could accomplish anything if I worked hard enough, and gave me a wonderful opportunity working within Public health. She is now one of my closest friends.

What would you like to do next?

I would love to move back into Public Health England and be involved with decisions before they are sent down to the working pharmacy to make a real difference for not just patients but the teams that work within pharmacy.

Career spotlight: Lead Pharmacy Technician, CPPE, Samantha Quaye

Sam Quaye

What is your role now?

 

I’m the Lead Pharmacy Technician at the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE). This is a national role responsible for education, training and workforce developments within the pharmacy technician profession in the NHS in England.

 

What roles did you do to get to where you are now?

 

  • Pre-registration Trainee Pharmacy Technician (PTPT) – Matthew Boulton College, Birmingham / Warwick Hospital
  • Rotational Pharmacy Technician – Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital
  • Senior Pharmacy Technician, Medicines Management Chelsea and Westminster Hospital
  • Principal Pharmacy Technician, Clinical & Business Services – King’s College Hospital
  • Chief Pharmacy Technician, Clinical Services – King’s College Hospital
  • Operational Lead, Medicines Finance – King’s College Hospital
  • Pharmacy Lecturer – Westminster Kingsway College

 

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Career spotlight: Specialist Clinical Pharmacist, Lucy Dixon

 

Lucy Dixon

What is your role now?
I am a Specialist Clinical Pharmacist based in Primary Care in North NHS Highland. I specialise in frail, elderly, complex polypharmacy, care home and care at home patients. I also work with the local multidisciplinary integrated team via its “Huddle” and contribute to rapid response falls team assessments. I collaborate with our geriatric consultant and regularly attend clinics with him.

What roles did you do to get to where you are now?

  • Prescribing Support Pharmacist.
  • Primary Care Clinical Pharmacist.
  • Post graduate diploma in Clinical Pharmacy, various other clinical qualifications & Independent Prescriber.

What do you enjoy about your job?
The variety of patients that I get to see. I work with seven different GP practices, which keeps me constantly on my toes. I also participate in research projects, exploring pharmacist prescribing roles. My services can be required at short notice, so I have the flexibility to manage my working week to allow me to utilise my time most effectively. All the practices and teams I work with are excellent, so I have been fortunate to benefit from many different kinds of input.

How much do you earn?
Band 8a.

What do you not enjoy about your job?
Some of geography involved means that I can’t always accomplish everything in one day that I would like to. However, we are currently exploring the potential of telehealth to overcome some of the travel requirements in Highland.

Are you a member of any pharmacy organisations?
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Who, if anyone, has influenced your career?
My husband and my parents, who are all independent community pharmacists, working at the coalface. We also have visionary senior staff members in the primary care pharmacy team in Highland.

What would you like to do next?
I’d like to integrate further with our local community hospitals – following up patients after discharge and expanding the role we have to improve health and prevent future admissions.

 

Career Spotlight: Advanced Pharmacist Practitioner, Catriona Macdonald

Catriona Macdonald

 

What is your role now?
Advanced Pharmacist Practitioner in primary care.

I carry out medication reviews for all patients in the practice and set up CMS prescribing for those suitable, making sure appropriate monitoring is carried out at the practice. Also medicines reconciliation for patients discharged from hospital or attending outpatient clinics, and I handle special requests for medicines and have a dose titration clinic for patients with polymyalgia rheumatica who are on reducing doses of prednisolone.

What roles did you do to get to where you are now?

  • Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.
  • Pre-reg at ABC pharmacy in London where I worked as a relief pharmacist after qualifying.
  • Rotational clinical pharmacist in Monklands hospital, Airdrie.
  • Pharmacy manager for a large multiple community pharmacy in Caithness.
  • Undertaking Independent prescribing at RGU alongside post-grad clinical pharmacy certificate.

What do you enjoy about your job?
It’s great to work in a role that I have been a part of developing; it can be exciting trialling new ways of working.

Having access to patient GP records allows me to see the whole story when carrying out medication reviews – it makes my job a lot easier compared to hospital or community where I had half the story and tried to fill in the blanks.

I really enjoy engaging with patients especially when carrying out dose titrations, getting to know them and encouraging them to stick to reduction plan. It’s very satisfying when patients are finally off their prednisolone as it can be difficult for some.

How much do you earn?
Band 7.

What do you not enjoy about your job?
Working constantly at the computer can be tiring but I just need to make sure I take breaks from looking at the screen and arrange patient reviews to break up the day.

Are you a member of any pharmacy organisations?
No

Who, if anyone, has influenced your career?
Everyone I’ve worked with has influenced me in one way or another. My professional lead, Clare Morrison, has really encouraged me to think outside the box and changed the way I think about the typical pharmacist role, she is full of good ideas! It’s been eye-opening to see the potential of pharmacists in primary care.

What would you like to do next?
I feel like I’ve now reached the stage I was aiming for when I first qualified – an independent prescriber working for a GP practice and running my own clinics. Now I am excited to see how I can help develop this role to keep improving pharmacy services in primary care. Not knowing what challenges we will be up against next is part of the excitement of this job.

 

Career spotlight: Senior NHS Pharmacist

Clare Morrison

What is your role now?
I have a split role, I work two days a week as Lead Pharmacist for North Highland which involves developing primary care pharmacy services and supporting safe, effective and cost-effective prescribing. I also have Highland-wide Lead Pharmacist portfolio roles for dispensing practices, care at home and the Scottish Patient Safety Programme.

For the other three days a week, I am Senior Clinical Quality Lead for NHS Highland which is a quality improvement role rather than specific to pharmacy.

What roles did you do to get to where you are now?

  • Community pharmacist in London
  • Various roles in pharmacy journalism
  • Community pharmacist in Caithness, including completing the independent prescribing training and running a couple of clinics
  • Lead Pharmacist for North Highland, NHS Highland
  • Pharmacist Clinical Lead for the Scottish Patient Safety Programme’s pharmacy in primary care pilot in NHS Highland
  • Scottish Quality and Safety Fellowship
  • Intermountain Healthcare Advanced Training Program in Quality Improvement.

What do you enjoy about your job?
The challenges and the opportunities: every day is different and I am never bored.

But more than anything, what I enjoy most is being part of a fantastic, forward-looking team that says: “yes let’s try that out”, instead of focusing on problems and barriers. I am so proud of the pharmacy team we have developed together over the past three years. We have moved from a small team with a traditional prescribing support role to a larger team of independent practitioners who are valued by the rest of the primary care team for their clinical expertise.

Most recently I have loved developing and using new skills in quality improvement: I can’t recommend the Scottish Quality and Safety Fellowship experience highly enough, it has changed the way I think about everything and led to fantastic new opportunities.

How much do you earn?
Band 8b.

What do you not enjoy about your job?
Sometimes the pace of change in the NHS is frustratingly slow. I understand the reasons for this but it’s probably why I was immediately sold on quality improvement and the concept of small tests of change which we can do quickly.

Life is pretty hectic. Working full time in a busy job with two young children is a juggling act I don’t think I’ll ever master!

Are you a member of any pharmacy organisations?
Yes, I’m a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and was one of the first cohort of pharmacists to join the Society’s Faculty.

Who, if anyone, has influenced your career?
The list is far too long to name everyone here! I have to start with Alison Strath and Bill Scott, because I was so inspired by their vision in “The Right Medicine” that I moved to Scotland. And on a daily basis, I am energised by the fantastic pharmacy team I work with in North and West NHS Highland.

Then I should single out Jill Gillies from the Scottish Patient Safety Programme who sparked my initial interest in quality improvement. I have been influenced by many people who are committed to quality in NHS Highland, but top of that list are the director of quality improvement Gill McVicar and chief executive Elaine Mead. Finally I should say that I had a life changing learning experience at Intermountain Healthcare this year which has changed the direction of my career.

What would you like to do next?
More of the same! In pharmacy, I want to use finish our Pharmacy Anywhere telehealth pilot and plan how we integrate telehealth into our everyday work. We are currently working on a new pharmacy technician role in GP practices and I also want to introduce a band 6 pharmacist development post.

In quality improvement, I’m working on a big project to provide outpatient appointments by telehealth and I’d like to see telehealth used much more, it is especially important in our remote and rural context in NHS Highland but actually it’s good for patient choice everywhere.

Career spotlight: Freelance Pharmacy and Healthcare Writer, Ross Ferguson

 

What is your role now?
Infrequent locum and freelance writer — I author Clinical Knowledge Summaries for the NICE CKS website, write for a number of pharmacy publications, consumer healthcare companies, marketing companies and anybody else that will have me. I also run Pharmacy in Practice with Johnathan Laird.

What roles did you do to get to where you are now?

  • Strathclyde University
  • Pre-reg pharmacist— Moss Chemists (England)
  • Pharmacy Manager — Moss Chemists
  • Deputy Editor — The Independent Community Pharmacist
  • Editor — The Independent Community Pharmacist (London)
  • Assistant Editor — Pharmacy Magazine
  • Owner — Campsie Pharmacy (Scotland)
  • I sold the pharmacy, moved to Perth, Australia for 2 years where I owned two non-pharmacy businesses. I returned to Scotland and started writing again.

What do you enjoy about your job?
I work from a home office, so it’s very flexible, but I start work early and often work at weekends accidentally.

I also love being part of the profession and having a professional network to tap into, as well as the challenge of taking lots of information, picking out the relevant parts and turning it into something that is (hopefully) easy to read and useful.

My work for the NICE CKS website means I am constantly doing CPD on a whole range of topics, which is fascinating, and work undergoes peer review from GP colleagues so I’m constantly learning something new.

My life is dictated by deadlines, but that’s a challenge I enjoy, as I can be working on many projects at one time. I never miss a deadline.

How much do you earn?
DM me and I might tell you.

What do you not enjoy about your job?
The unpredictability of the work as there is no guaranteed income, and when I have to chase people for payment. As I’m self-employed I only get paid when I complete the work I have been asked to do, but I find that people who give you short deadlines (“I need this tomorrow”) also pay late, or need to be reminded. Once that happens I usually decline any future work from them.

Obviously, the people I currently write for are great!

Are you a member of any pharmacy organisations?
Yes, I’m a Faculty member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society — I was recently appointed to the RPS Membership Committee.

I might consider joining some other pharmacy organisations too within the next year.

Who, if anyone, has influenced your career?
A few people have had an influence on the way I work. The first was a well-known pharmacist from the start of my career who used the phrase: “Get it done, and do it properly”. I try to stick to that.

I also learned a lot from Pharmacy Magazine’s Richard Thomas with whom I worked for many years (and continue to). Much of it is unprintable though…

I continue to learn from others I work with, including the youngster Johnathan Laird.

What would you like to do next?
I’m really happy with what I’m doing now. But I’d also love to work with an educational organisation and have some real input into helping pharmacists develop their knowledge and skills, and collaborate with others to write a successful pharmacy textbook.

I’ve still only half way through my career, so who knows what’ll happen. I should maybe have a 10-year plan or something…