From education to employment

Pharmacy Students in the Heart of the Community

Pharmacy - collecting tablets off a shelf

Students from @S_ERC (SERC) have been making a real difference in the community over the past few months and amongst this cohort are students studying Pharmacy. Whilst we have depended on many key workers, those in our local chemists have ensured that we have all had access to vital medication. SERC are proud that many of those Pharmacy Technicians who have been part of the support keeping the country going are current and past students of the College.

One such student is Rebecca Irvine, 25, from Bangor, who has recently completed Level 3 Pharmacy Services at SERC whilst working away in the dispensary at the South Eastern Trust’s Ulster Hospital, Dundonald. Rebecca said, “I mainly work in the dispensary, where I supply medications to the wards, manage stock and dispense discharge prescriptions for patients going home.

“I work alongside other pharmacy technicians, assistant technical officers, pharmacists, doctors, nurses and porters, to name a few, and together we ensure high quality care is provided for all patients – they are the centre of our role. Work in the dispensary, continues to the usual high standard. The biggest change for us over the past few months has been social distancing which has taken some time to get used to, but the team have adapted well.

Following A Levels, Rebecca was a support worker in a local school and then took up the role a Dietetic Assistant, before moving into pharmacy. She said, “I’ve always enjoyed learning and being able to complete the course whilst working, and getting hands on experience, appealed to me. I studied biology and chemistry at A Level and really enjoyed science throughout school. The course brought the science into practice in relation to how medicines work in the body, that along with the work based hands on learning and record of my knowledge, meant I could clearly see my progress over the two years, learning new skills and gaining knowledge every day.

She added, “I’ve always loved looking after and helping people. Working in pharmacy is more of a behind the scenes caring role which I love. It is rewarding to know that I make a difference to someone’s day and am part of the support team for someone whilst they are in hospital and when they are discharged and going home their medication in a safe manner.

When asked if she would recommend pharmacy, Rebecca said, “It is hard work and requires dedication and commitment. You have to think of the end goal and the fact that every day you are learning for your career. Now that I have completed the two years, I am very proud to be a qualified Pharmacy Technician. I find my role immensely rewarding and would recommend this career path.”

Kerry Gilmore, NVQ Pharmacy Assessor at SERC said, “Pharmacy Technicians are an integral part of the pharmacy team and professionals. The Pharmacy Technician qualification offered at SERC previously a dual NVQ and BTEC qualification, changes this September to become BTEC Level 3 Diploma in the Principles and Practice for Pharmacy. It runs one day and one evening per week in College over 2 years. Students must be employed in the pharmacy sector to complete the course.

She added, “Our Pharmacy qualifications are in line with the rest of the UK and registration and leads to a fantastic career. There is real variety in the Pharmacy Technician role, from counselling patients on their medications, taking drug histories, dispensing medication, final checks of medication, preparing and manufacturing medicinal products, sourcing products, clinical trials, right through to training and education. Students can be working for a hospital or community pharmacy, but when qualified the role can lead to work in many different settings including the army or prison service. It’s a great qualification that opens up many avenues for further study or career progression.

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