Career pathways for pharmacy technicians
Being a pharmacy technician is a fulfilling and rewarding career, and furthermore, pharmacy technicians are always in demand, according to Claire Steele, President of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK).
Growing numbers of pharmacy technicians are taking up senior positions in the NHS. Ms Steele explains,
“In the NHS there is a hierarchical structure for pharmacy technicians, generally from band 4 to band 7. However, there are now many pharmacy technicians in higher-banded posts and we are seeing an increase in the number of posts where a pharmacy technician or pharmacist is eligible to apply. The higher-banded posts tend to be where a pharmacy technician is responsible for delivering services and setting the strategic direction. To demonstrate the skills required for this you usually have to be able to evidence working at a regional or a national level – working with APTUK does actually provide that and we’ve seen many of our previous executive committee members go on to achieve great roles.”
One example here is medicines procurement. Until recently medicines procurement services were mainly run by pharmacists but now, in some places in England, pharmacy technicians are running medicines procurement services, often not just for one hospital but for a Trust.
Currently, there is not a clear career pathway for pharmacy technicians because of the variety of roles and sectors in which pharmacy technicians can work. “While this means there is ample opportunity for individual pharmacy technicians to forge a successful career it does mean that there’s often a lack of advanced training opportunities for pharmacy technicians”, Ms Steele acknowledges. However, more opportunities are opening up for pharmacy technicians and many now choose to undertake Master’s degrees or PhDs to advance their careers. Typically, these are focused on leadership and management topics.
Ms Steele says:
“I would say being a pharmacy technician is a fulfilling and rewarding career. There’s a very high demand for pharmacy technicians and ample employment opportunities and actually most pharmacy technicians stay within the profession. Many pharmacy technicians start their career as pharmacy support staff and this provides a good grounding for a career as a pharmacy technician, particularly, if …. you want to understand more about how medicines work. But you do also need to make sure that you have the minimum educational requirements to train to be a pharmacy technician. I just want to add that being a pharmacy technician is not the same as being a dispenser – you are expected to use your knowledge and skills to directly support patients with their medicines and you have to maintain your professional development as a registered healthcare professional. So, [I’d] say to any young person out there, if you’re interested in a career as a pharmacy technician, I suggest you take the opportunity to talk to pharmacy technicians, visit a pharmacy and make sure that you research the requirements around professional registration…. The other thing that I would like to say as well is that as a professional I feel it’s important to join and work with professional leadership bodies and APTUK offers free membership to pre-registration training pharmacy technicians and a special early years’ rate upon registration.”
International Pharmacy Technician Day
APTUK President, Claire Steele’s message:
“Every year we celebrate International Pharmacy Technician Day and I would like to take the opportunity to thank every pharmacy technician across the UK for their hard work and dedication. The future is bright for pharmacy technicians and I, for one, am excited to see what comes next in our journey”.
APTUK is the professional leadership body for pharmacy technicians working in all pharmacy sectors across all countries in the UK: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Find out more here – https://www.aptuk.org/