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Pharmacy Technician to Clinical Safety Specialist – My Journey…

The Early Days…
I started my career working as a Saturday girl for a local Pharmacy at age 15. At the time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as I originally aspired to be a Lawyer! When I left School I had done poorly in my GCSEs and therefore, started a full time position in the Pharmacy. BUT I knew I wanted more, to progress, to be the women I dreamt of. A Role Model for others.

So naturally, I took on as many courses as I could to better myself, I felt disappointment and a failure at not doing well in my exams and forced into a role I didn’t think I wanted! It was difficult been a young women in a very male orientated profession at the time. I completed my Dispensary Course and then in 2010 when I moved to work for a well known Internet Pharmacy, I finally completed my Pharmacy Technician Course! I took time out to become a mother and upon returning to work completed the Accuracy Checking Technician Course.

I’d moved back to a Community Pharmacy, at this point I felt good, I knew all my patients, I loved helping them, it was rewarding and satisfying. I strived to do more, however, I couldn’t be promoted to be a Pharmacy Branch Manager, as at that time you needed to be a Pharmacist! It was frustrating, that I and other Pharmacy Technicians felt, we were held back from opportunities which we knew we could succeed in!

I knew I could give and do more, so, I decided to go and work in the private sector for a company which dealt with QOF Indicators (Quality Outcome Framework) and long term conditions.

My Clinical knowledge grew as I learnt so much about long term Conditions, Health IT and how Data is used in GP practices and Clinical Systems.

My Break
My transformation in the Digital Health Space came when I went to work for NHS Digital as a Senior Pharmacy Technician, on the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS). Here I had the best Clinical Leader- she really built my confidence and gave me opportunities, she taught me to believe in myself! I was fortunate enough to work on many other National Programmes and undertake more training, I loved to learn and grow continually. It was here that I took the opportunity to train as a Clinical Safety Officer (CSO) as well as Project Manager and other related courses.

At the same time I was also involved in a patient facing role working for a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), I worked directly with patients from a wellbeing and holistic perspective to reduce their need for GP appointments, the cohorts of patients I worked with were mainly lonely or
needed social help not medical.

Utilising the benefits of the knowledge I had gained coupled with my expertise in a patient facing role and days as a hands on Pharmacy Technician, I was able to give my perspective from a real world life point of view. ‘This is important for project driven teams to fully understand the
workflows, terminology and challenges on the ground!’

No Regrets
Then organisational transformational changes led to me looking for roles where I could provide my skill-set, I was head hunted by a Foundation Trust and a Shared Care Record (ShCR) , they were looking for a Clinical Safety Officer. This meant I had the opportunity to go freelance and take the jump from employed to consultant and even bigger than that use my registration as a Pharmacy Technician to become a fully pledged CSO. This was a BIG deal and a whole lot of responsibility, SO, I did it. Since then I have worked with fantastic teams, built relationships regionally and nationally. I was really able to put my stamp on governance, build frameworks and strategies. I had found my purpose!

Throughout my CSO journey I am still learning and developing by working with other Clinical Safety experts and Clinical Safety Company’s, however, I am honoured that others come to me for advice, guidance and support and recognise me as an expert.

I have been very fortunate and lucky to have had people believe in me, give me the opportunities and push me to be the best version of myself. It’s been hard, emotional, stressful but most of all rewarding! Absolutely No Regrets!

Just Jump
My passion for patients has always been at the centre of what I do, I’m so glad that Saturday girl took the job in that Pharmacy, because I wouldn’t be here now! I love helping people and teams deliver the best quality and safe care. Being linked to the NHS and the ever changing landscape with focus around Digital Health and in particular Artificial Intelligence really excites me.

I have now decided to expand my own company and develop a Website and LinkedIn in page, not just to promote my services but to share knowledge, best practice and enable others to strive for what seems like the impossible. Everything is possible. For anyone who is apprehensive about making a career move or embarking on their initial journey, my advice is go for it and don’t look back.

Especially, for any Pharmacy Technicians out there that just think that’s it, there’s so much more we as a profession can do given the opportunity and will power! For any school leavers that made mistakes or didn’t do well or just ain’t sure what to do- Digital Health IT is fascinating! Making a change or leap of faith is not easy and it will take hard work, dedication and it’s not something that can happen overnight. It is a constant journey, even now I’m studying a Masters in Health Informatics!

Take The Jump, You Can Do It, I Did!