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A brilliant opportunity for PTs

Run by pharmacy technicians for pharmacy technicians (and for trainee pharmacy technicians), the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) are the champions and guardians of the profession, working to ensure your voice is heard.

We spoke with Tracy Hedley (MAPharmT FdSc, CPPE education supervisor, APTUK Sussex branch secretary) and Lianne Whitehead (MAPharmT, CPPE education supervisor, APTUK East Midlands branch support) to find out more about the specific ways APTUK can support you.

What are some of the most important reasons for pharmacy technicians to join APTUK?

Tracy Hedley (TH): APTUK membership is guaranteed to open doors to help you progress in your professional career and expand your networks, with opportunities to network with peers at local branch meetings and at the annual conference. You are given access to plenty of educational resources, including a subscription to the Pharmacy Technician Journal (PTJ), helping you keep up to date with national and strategic issues impacting the pharmacy profession. If you have never been brave enough to submit an article for publication, the PTJ is a great place to start. APTUK will guide you through the process, supporting you to develop your skills and gain confidence in the area of research. 

Lianne Whitehead (LW): I wholeheartedly agree with everything Tracy has said. I think we underestimate the value of peer support and networking generally. This is something that being an APTUK member makes more accessible. It’s great to get involved where you can and give something back to the profession, whether that’s providing advice and support to a colleague, or starting up your own APTUK branch. I think that with networking comes career opportunities you may well not have thought of. You’ll find that you’ll learn about roles you didn’t know existed for pharmacy technicians. 

I understand APTUK has regional and sector-specific branches. Can you tell me more about these? 

TH: I’m the secretary and founder of the Sussex branch of APTUK. We have a membership of 40+ pharmacy technicians living and working in and around Sussex. We often have 10-20 members per meeting and like to keep things relaxed but structured. To date, we have heard from members who have shared their experience of working in a variety of areas, and have held learning events about deprescribing, depression and opioid use in non-Cancer pain. We also welcome pre-registration trainee pharmacy technicians (PTPTs) who have free membership throughout their training, as well as non-members who would like a taster before joining APTUK. Since setting up the Sussex branch, I have also learned lots of new IT skills for my role and communicate regularly with the APTUK Committee.  

Most branch meetings are run virtually, and you can join a branch near you or even set one up yourself. Branch meetings are relaxed and supportive – great for networking locally, sharing ideas and undertaking educational activities in a small group. They are also a great way to learn about the different pharmacy technician roles in your locality, which is great if you’re thinking of a change of direction. National virtual branch meetings are more formal and are open to all members. To date, we have had many inspirational speakers covering topics that really open your eyes to the wider vision of being a pharmacy professional. 

LW: I’m one of the founding members of the East Midlands branch. Due to personal and work commitments, we have been quiet of late, but plans are underway for a branch meeting soon. You’ll be able to look on the APTUK website and work out your most local or relevant branch. This might be the community pharmacy branch as well as your regional branch. As a member, you can attend any branch meeting. We also have specialist branches, such as primary care and technical services. This might be something you’re interested in or something you currently work in – you’d be welcome at the meetings to learn more. 

What kind of support with revalidation can I expect from APTUK? 

TH: In 2022, APTUK invited a speaker from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to a national branch meeting to run a session about revalidation to support members with the requirements re-instated after the pandemic. We recognised that many pharmacy technicians had never had to meet the full revalidation requirements before. The session was interactive, and feedback was positive – members reported feeling supported and motivated to start recording their revalidation entries. The APTUK website has an area dedicated to revalidation resources, including bite-sized learning and examples of how to write entries effectively.  

LW: As well as our learning and educational resources on revalidation, we run branch meetings on various topics that can be used for your continuing professional development (CPD). I’ve already mentioned the value of networking, and having those conversations with people can lead you to discover areas you want to learn more about and give you CPD ideas.   

Anything else you’d like to add? 

TH: As soon as you receive confirmation of your membership, you can start using the post-nominal ‘MAPharmT’. This adds kudos and professionalism to your correspondence and demonstrates your commitment to the profession. You also get a shiny badge to wear with pride! The annual conference is an experience you will never forget. You will encounter excellent speakers covering topics affecting all areas of practice, inspiring you with ideas for developing your own services and keeping you informed about current professional developments. There is also an opportunity to socialise in the evening at the annual awards ceremony before dancing the night away. Finally, the annual membership fee is value for money compared to that of other organisations, and PTPTs have free membership for the duration of their training period. You can even claim tax relief on fees.  

LW: I recently had an article printed in the PTJ and it was a great experience seeing my name in print. I personally haven’t been able to go to the annual conference, but I’m hopeful for this year! 

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