My mornings usually consist of rushing to get to the pharmacy, getting all the computers switched on, the answerphone messages listened to, the website orders checked and emails read before opening the doors to the customers already waiting outside for our 8.30am start.
But this morning I’m sat writing this article with a cup of tea, surrounded by baby toys, clothes, equipment and gifts. Today marks my first day of maternity leave and I am expecting my first baby, a boy, on 7 February.
Having worked in community pharmacy for 17 years and at Monarch Pharmacy for the past 15 of those, I’ve made the massive decision not to return to the pharmacy after maternity leave. Perhaps I might end up doing one or two days a week, but with all the changes in the sector at the moment I am not sure what my future holds.
Starting at Monarch at 17 years of age I had a lot to learn in my first full-time position, let alone when I quickly rose to the position of supervisor around a year later. My boss has always been fantastic and was there to help me with any training or support I needed, as well as with any other professional roles or personal situations. It’s been great seeing the pharmacy evolve over the years, albeit in difficult circumstances over the past few months with the damaging cuts.
My last day was surreal but lovely and since customers knew I was pregnant I have been receiving cards, gifts and well wishes. I’ve been so touched by everyone’s kindness and it’s this that I will miss about community pharmacy the most – the customers you get to know over the years; the ones that come in just to say hello or have a chat and the ones who know every member of staff. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Monarch – proved by the tears rolling down my face as I walked out the doors for the last time.
For the past few years I have also been working as an assessor in my spare time, marking pharmacy students NVQ coursework for several training providers and also marking the NPA’s accredited dispensary assistant course. I love how rewarding this is. Education and training in community pharmacy is so important, as is upscaling staff and ensuring they have enthusiasm for the career. My intention is to continue this line of work and expand upon it in the next year or so, as I do not want to step outside of pharmacy altogether.
I’ve also been considering looking for a new challenge for when my baby is older, but how easy is a transition from community to another sector? The world of hospital pharmacy seems so daunting and unfamiliar to a community pharmacy technician, even with so much knowledge and experience. I hope with the developing changes to qualification standards a transition is made easier for future trainees, with multi-sector learning becoming the norm.
What I do know is that CPD is going to be so vital for me in the coming years. Twitter, Training Matters and other pharmacy publications are most certainly my bedtime reading for a while!
Leanne is an accuracy checking pharmacy technician and supervisor at Monarch Pharmacy, Coventry. She is also an NVQ/BTEC assessor for pharmacy training providers, including NPA and Scientia Skills.