As a recently retired community pharmacist of over 30 years’ experience, I was given the opportunity to get involved with the training of Pharmacy support staff in the Level 2 Certificate in the Principles and Practice for Pharmacy Support Staff. This excited me, since as a pharmacist I always felt there was a real need for this type of formal training and qualification for our invaluable support staff whom we rely on to deliver the quality service we expect in our pharmacies. As the workload in the pharmacy is increasingly demanding there is less and less time to engage in sufficient training for staff during the working day so, a structured supported training programme is an ideal solution.
In order to deliver the training, I first had to complete the Assessor A1 Course. This was completed over 3 months, supported wonderfully by Joe and the Global Horizons team. Following COVID guidelines, the training comprised of weekly online classes on the principles and practices of assessment with written assignments and discussions. I carried out some virtual workplace assessments and professional discussions with candidates under supervision. These were assessed and all evidence was gathered together to complete my portfolio and so attain the assessor qualification.
Once I had this assessor award, I could deliver the Level 2 Pharmacy Programme along with Joe from Global Horizon Skills. We started in January and have just finished the classes in September. We had online classes every 2 weeks covering a wide range of topics from basic dispensing, OTC medicines, communication, legislation, health and safety, teamwork among others. Written assignments accompanied the classes, and we encouraged the candidates to return these for assessment before the next class.
It has been so encouraging and gratifying to be involved in this programme. We have had a wide range of candidates from staff new to pharmacy, excited to develop their skills in their new career, to long standing members of staff relishing the opportunity to refresh their knowledge and gain formal recognition of their skills.
Our main aim was to ensure the training was relevant and beneficial to the daily work of the candidates and the feedback reflected this with anecdotes of staff bringing the training notes to their colleagues and many a discussion on the topics taking place the following days. We had some great class discussions when daily experiences and issues were shared, and the assignments offered the opportunities for staff to demonstrate how they use the training in their daily interactions.
I think what was most satisfying, was the engagement of the candidates and the genuine interest in the topics discussed. Community pharmacy can sometimes be quite an isolated place, particularly in rural areas and I really liked the fact that the online training allowed a diverse geographical spread of staff, and they were able to share and discuss the issues and recognise the common ground and exchange ideas for good practice. On a personal note, this has given me the opportunity to expand my own personal development with the IT and Presentation skills needing lots of fine tuning! But overall, my foray into training has been a most rewarding experience.