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New career pathways for pharmacy technicians set to future-proof workforce

Ground-breaking new programmes mean Welsh trainee pharmacy technicians will have the opportunity to train across three pharmacy settings – hospital, community pharmacy and primary care – for the first time.   

Health Education and Improvement Wales’ (HEIW) two-year modern apprenticeship Pre-Registration Pharmacy Technician Training Programme, currently being piloted at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB), equips students with multisector experience leading to professional registration with the General Pharmaceutical Council.
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Each week trainees spend two days training in a hospital, two days in a community pharmacy along with one study day. In their second-year students also complete a six- week primary care placement.

Wendy Penny, Head of Pharmacy Technician Training at HEIW, said: “Supporting pharmacy technicians to train across three pharmacy sectors will lead to a more sustainable and flexible workforce who understand the patient journey across healthcare settings.

“This is a new and supportive model of training where trainee technicians receive regular face-to-face contact with pharmacy professionals.”

Christian Burridge, a former accountant now embarking on a career change, is one of 11 trainee pharmacy technicians who have recently completed their induction at ABUHB.

He said: “Working in the hospital, in the community and in primary care, we’re going to see different things, develop three different skillsets and have a well-rounded experience.

“This will put us in good stead for when we finish training and want to apply for permanent positions.”

The apprenticeship route was extremely appealing for many of the programme’s applicants, such as Katie Edwards, a Performing Arts graduate now excited to begin her new journey in pharmacy:

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“I had just been to university and I didn’t want to do it all over again, but I love learning. I wanted to go into full time work and being able to learn at the same time is an added bonus.”

Katie can already see how this multisector training route will enhance relationships between different teams.

In Powys Teaching Health Board, pre-registration pharmacy technician Nicola James is also training across multiple sectors. Having already worked in a hospital setting, she is now based in a community pharmacy.

Nicola said: “I’ve found working in the community very different to the hospital setting. I’ve also had the opportunity to shadow a colleague within primary care and I hope to carry out more of my placement in this setting towards the end of my course.

“Multisector training is allowing me to see how the different settings interlink and how important it is that the sectors communicate with each other to provide the best care for patients.”

Rebecca Gordon, another trainee technician at ABUHB, is looking forward to where the programme could take her in the future: “I can’t wait to be a fully registered pharmacy technician. Before this I was working in retail which wasn’t very fulfilling, but this programme sets you up for a career with so many options – it’s just the start of something.”

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