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  • What attracts you to hospital pharmacy

    Sorry if I’m posting about something that has already been discussed...

    As a line manager I’m looking to attract pharmacy technicians from community into hospital pharmacy. We don’t get a lot of interest in our adverts from techs in community and we’ve had some worrying encounters where we’ve been told that community techs don’t think they are qualified to work in hospital.


    So what I’m looking for feedback on is what reservations do people have about moving into hospital pharmacy and what professional and developmental opportunities would entice you to give it a try?


  • #2
    Most community staff want to work in hospital. What on earth are you talking about? Do you live in inner Mongolia or something?

    The only reason I can think of why you don't get applicants is if you are a company running the pharmacy with non-NHS pensions and very poor pay e.g. £8.75 to be a tech with no development and on the same pay for the rest of your life like in good old community. Or if it has a really bad rep locally.

    There are a variety of reasons why someone wouldn't apply for hospital
    1. a community manager actively stopping them/trying to encourage them not to (common)
    2. it took 5-10 years to become a tech so how long is it going to take to start 'all over again'
    3. common stories about people finding it 'impossible' to get into hospital
    4. had an interview already and been knocked back and confidence shot.
    5. going from a big dispensers/tech fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond
    6. active hatred by many pharmacists of techs in community
    7. active hatred of community technicians by ex/current hospital pharmacists locumming in community
    8. perceived as a lot of effort for no reward (based falsely on community payscale)
    9. they suck at maths/calculations
    10. the Dunning-Kruger Effect or whatever other way you want to put it.
    11. training in community sucks, people may assume it's the same in hospital
    12. modern life, a lot of pharmacy staff have degrees now. the stereotype of 'school leaver' middle aged women is wrong
    I would imagine that factors 1, 2, 3 and 7 are the biggest.

    Managers in community can be extremely lazy in parts of their professional duties. This is not one that the pharmacy profession really wants to talk about because a) there are plenty of good guys who aren't b) they feel they should stick up for each other and it's easier to blame the multiples. Training is absolutely shocking in community. Often those that have made it to technician will have had to fight, fight, fight to get onto the dispenser course and then fight, fight, fight to get on the tech course so nos 11, 2 and 1 could be very big factors.

    I worked with a lot of locums who had worked/work in hospital. The majority were very dismissive of people in community and actively bad tempered and cranky, although I liked working with them (others didn't). A couple were horrible people in the workplace to everyone. I often wondered why this is why hospital pharmacists have these stereotypes in community. I only ever met one hospital pharmacist who was a breath of fresh air to talk to and telling people correct information about how to get into hospital and encouraging people to think about it.

    Talk from staff. A lot of pharmacy staff know someone directly who has applied to hospital and got knocked back, maybe they didn't even get an interview. At the main store I worked at four of us had applied for hospital pharmacy and all got knocked back, some of the others got annihilated at the interview/numeracy test. In community as in the general population maybe something like a third of the population are poor at numeracy through having not had to use it on a regular basis for years. This was seen as a major roadblock by the main dispenser I worked with to getting into hospital.

    Pharmacists don't want techs to leave community. Or even their store. There's a constant barrage of psychological warfare. The manager I last worked with had the main dispenser the company had reluctantly agreed to put her on the technician course. There were constant mindgames and a howling gale of criticism and negativity to stop her leaving as well the sneaky tactics by the multiple to get her to go to the hellhole stores. She didn't leave or get on the tech course, of course. The dispenser will still be there in ten years time of course, assuming the place hasn't closed or pharmacy even exists by then.

    Some may be unaware of the benefits of hospital vs community. Some more motivated by effort vs payoff look at community technician and think it's a joke. The bad rep it gets may get you in hospital a very bad rep too. The reality is in 2019 many pharmacy support staff are graduates and after working in community, perhaps even having made it to technician think it's time to foxtrot oscar.

    In many walks of life people often stay longer in jobs than we should do. This puzzles a lot of people but psychology and decision theory points to risk aversion. If you have two jobs with identical pay, one you've done for years, you are mindnumbingly bored of and hate with no propspects of ever earning more and the other with exactly the same pay, it's a really interesting job, but more effort has to be put in initially and you even want more stimulation, even if someone consciously knows in the medium term it's a no brainer. What happens? ... a sizeable proportion of the population plumps for staying withthe job they hate, even though it doesn't make sense. Often when making comparisons, a sizeable proportion of the population need that instant cash bonus and to be sold on the benefits.

    Comment


    • #3
      I really do not live in Mongolia! I value the different skills that community techs have. My god, you guys are so much better at the patient facing stuff than I will ever be...

      We as an NHS hospital department want to attract community techs and give them the development opportunities they want, but even when I’ve offered interviews, no one comes, not even to look around. We want to be a great employer that people recommend.

      I really wouldn’t consider it “starting again”. Yes we work differently, but so does every pharmacy you go to. Yes we possibly need calculations more, but rarely more then multiples of seven.

      So tell me, what development opportunities are you wanting, but not getting in community? ACPT enrolment is always available. Patient facing training roles are a priority for hospital too. We have lots of leadership courses we can enrol people onto... Hospital training in my region is incredibly strong and well regarded and I’d love to get a wider range of experience and skills into my team.

      Or maybe put it this way, which do you think is the best route for me to reach out to community techs in my area? How can I reach them, help them write good applications, coach them for interviews?

      If if it is encouraging for anyone in community to keep trying... my team is made up of three assistants from community, lots who had no experience what so ever and a few key individuals who have been in hospital a long time. We are in a great position to support and train. Our technical team is vast but plenty came from community and developed with us, including purchasing techs, ward based techs, aseptics techs, rotational techs... keep trying.

      Comment


      • #4
        I meant the twelve points very seriously . Maybe focus on the last few points of this long post. They (above the 12 and below) cover a range of points that I feel are relevant and from my point of view (ex member of staff in a wild west community pharmacy) I feel they explain why no one comes, no one looks around. I appreciate your efforts, the world needs more people like you, particularly in community. There is the risk that it might come across a bit weird in the positivity that is hospital. You have to appreciate that you work on a completely different planet. My final months in community pharmacy I spent time trying to encourage one of the dispensers to fulfil her dream of working in hospital, but it was extremely uphill work and what I've written is a very shortened version including the small army of other pharmacy staff who wanted to work in the hospital.

        Of the dozens of pharmacists I've worked with conversation about hospital prospect, actually making it is negative. They point out how difficult it is to get in, how loads of techs fail to do so, the negative comments made about community techs constantly, how hard the interviews are, how it's a 'totally different job' where you have to do calculations (see point 9), where you have to work on your own and figure things out for yourself. Basically loads of pharmacy staff are told you won't ever make it into hospital, it's wonderful for the pay but it's a lot harder. And sorry point 1 is probably the biggest thing stopping techs or dispensers applying to pharmacy. Many Pharmacy managers can't be arsed to train anyone up and will do anything to keep their dispensers there. They don't want them to leave. That's really how it is and if you work in pharmacy for years and it's a constant stream of negativity from the pharmacist you're gonna think I won't be able to make it in hospital.

        If you give a good impression over time word will get out. You are having to undo years of people being treated as the serfs they are.

        We do hear the stories of dispensers who get into hospital. My chain had a lot of closures and when such things are shaken up so much it's often then that people make the decision to give it a go. A couple supposedly got into hospital jobs. As you can imagine there's a lot of scepticism about whether this was true or whether they just got lucky. The hospital pharmacist who was encouraging said all the things you did and way more, to pharmacy staff it sounds fantastical. Too good to be true.

        I'm afraid I've left the seventh level of hell of retail community pharmacy and left pharmacy completely now . I do really like pharmacy, but I spent years chasing the hospital job and trying to make any progress whatsoever in pharmacy. I had to fight tooth and nail just to be allowed onto the dispensers course . I left to go back to university for the third time. My perspective on community pharmacy has changed from leaving. Pharmacists and support staff are treated appallingly by the multiples and regional managers. In turn some pharmacists treat support staff badly also. What some of the support staff do to each over too. Frigging hell.

        ----------------------------------
        Me personally, any development opportunities would have been good. I had to wait nearly six months for my medicines counter assistant course. I had to fight like crazy to get on the dispensers course. I worked at many other stores, but my experiences aren't unusual. Training is usually good at the stores that did 1000-2000 items and were sleepy and there was time to do it. Those stores have closed. Some stores are extremely busy and training is taken seriously because the manager realises that your business and everyone is screwed unless you train dispensers up to know what they are doing. The rest are like my experiences.

        I personally wouldn't play up the accuracy technician side. There might actually be negative connotations with that. Some techs may feel differently.

        Ditto leadership. Bad wording. I worked for an incredibly large multiple. They do the whole soulless corporate lies language better than the NHS. Do you not think we hear constant nonsense from the multiples about 'leadership' and values. If someone said to me in the NHS about leadership and they were suited and booted I'd be very sceptical that it wasn't 100% lies. I don't think I'm alone either.

        People will be sceptical about 'training' because it's such a mickey mouse set up in community. To us extra training means things like being trained up on quit smoking as no one else wants to do it or the healthy pharmacy nonsense stuff rolled out.

        I'm not really that motivated by money, I'd have done hospital for a lot lower money than what it pays. I want to work in a team where I am safe, where I'm valued, where people have my back and the work I do to be meaningful. Answering questions in community about microbeads in beauty products is not meaningful work. Community pharmacy, the multiples, the regional managers don't value you, don't care in the slightest about you as an individual and would shaft you over in a second in their own interests. Sadly a lot of the pharmacists are the same. Retail community pharmacy has some really nice people I enjoyed working with and learning about but it's a fundamentally toxic environment.

        I applied for hospital pharmacy and lab jobs before I worked in community (after uni and having worked in the NHS twice). I got interviews and didn't get in. I got another degree, that made no difference to either. Worked in community. Got nowhere. Left.
        -----------------------------------
        Why not host information events? The LPC and all that jazz have contacts and events. The techs seem to take this stuff seriously so you could even have a careers evening or something.
        Keep at the positive message, if you've worked 5 years in pharmacy the constant negativity isn't going to be overcome in a few days by one wonderful positive person.
        Why not use linkedin? I don't mean the hospital pay for a business account but there are creative ways of getting to community techs/dispensers or their friends/families.
        You could start a linkedin group and write content for it on how to apply for hospital etc. It's effort but not really that much effort.
        A lot of people don't understand hospital tech role, moreover they don't understand the vast number of roles in hospital full stop. This is a societal problem where everyone is either a 'doctor', a 'nurse', a person in a white coat or a cleaner. It's a constant battle.
        You want to persuade your staff to publish 'real life stories'.
        For careers advice most people don't pay a blind bit of attention to whatever you or I do or say. They want reassurance. So they want a tech who's worked at your hospital site to say to them hey yeah I was worried about all this hospital malarkey but I had a numeracy test and even though I'm really crap at maths my manager yeah we worked on it and I actually did okay at the test. It's not as bad as I thought, I do have to use calculations but the whole tech team they are great, so supportive, not like that hellhole community pharmacy I worked in. I'm a year in and loving it and my next stage is blah blah blah. That's what people want to hear. Most of the stuff you say as a manager goes in one ear and out of the other. They want to talk to people who they feel are similar to them.

        If I was a manager trying to recruit I'd start on with that stuff and try and implement Sinek type workplace/marketing stuff.

        -------------------------------
        Community is awful. A large proportion of staff really do want to work in hospital. I've just tried to suggest why they don't apply.

        Comment


        • #5
          P.S. the 'starting over' thing is an emotional reaction.

          I'm guessing you are a pharmacist. Imagine then for a second that you wanted to move job and you had to start from scratch in another role, the four year pharmacy degree took a lot of work and you had a terrible pre-reg. You want to move on, you know everything in life is new learning, but the thought crops into your head, oh god I can't go through that again.

          Also point 5 is relevant. In community many of the people who are most likely to want to move on are the top/main dispensers or techs. Pharmacy managers aren't daft, staff are so poorly paid to keep status they have to give them non-monetary stuff. Crafty extra smoking breaks, allowed to play on their mobile phone, read daily mail articles on the dispensing computer etc. Perhaps the odd sicky is tolerated or shift swap that isn't supposed to happen. Once you go into a new environment all of these goodies go as you aren't top dog any more.

          For most of us in community it took way too long and too much of a fight to get our training. We worry that in hospital that it might be the case and we have to start all over again.

          The way you get around this is by as a person acknowledging their worries in conversation. Read a book on negotiation. As a manager it should be you running rings around me and telling me this stuff, not a lowly ex-dispenser telling an NHS manager ideas!

          Comment


          • #6
            OK, where are you....on a remote island somewhere?. Most of our posters are from the North or Midlands.
            The other factor is many ladies have family to worry about and want somewhere near by. They cannot travel for an hour or more. if you are in a rural area then transport could be a problem.
            As a locum I was prepared to travel upto 60 miles as long as parking available.
            One final point, many techs do not have a great education and maths always a stumbling block. There are enough deaths in hospitals already due to decimal errors etc. Worse cases used to involve Potassium and a particularly tragic one was the lady given concentrate sod phos for bronchoscopy. A horrible death. I have lots of examples from my experience.
            johnep

            Comment


            • willerz86
              willerz86 commented
              Editing a comment
              Johnep would you avoid going into hospital as a patient at all costs ?

            • sierralimawhiskey
              sierralimawhiskey commented
              Editing a comment
              Are you a practicing pharmacy professional?

          • #7
            ^^ mobility is a good point. Especially in comparison to pharmacists. Pharmacists are highly mobile. In general retail workers aren't that mobile.

            Comment


            • #8
              The talk of errors being a detractor to the technician role... well from my experience techs are more accurate because we have to work so hard to prove ourselves. As a profession it is much more important to have pharmacists doing clinical work, not operational.

              I’m a pharmacy technician of 7 years, ACPT and MOT qualified and now starting to lead a team, which should be an example of what can be achieved. I’d like to think that I’m in a great position to be a role model and a leader (which is so much more important than being a manager!). I guess community pharmacies are a business so having a manager who aims to keep you rather than develop you at the risk of losing you is the established culture. We however want to get the best out of everyone and help steer them to where they want to be.

              I have no community experience so I appreciate your suggestions of LPC, mcitr.

              I appreciate that training as a tech is different in community, however across all training providers there is an expectation of GCSE maths A-C or equivalent, which is a higher standard than any calculation I’ve ever done in pharmacy. The most complex we actually do is a weekly reducing course of prednisolone, which is multiples of 7. Every tech and assistant I’ve interviewed from community has been able to achieve this. Long gone are the days of calculating extemporaneous preparations. I’ve never really understood how to do this and hospitals are getting rid of extemp preps as too great a risk. I think tarring a section of pharmacy professionals as having poor maths skills is really negative.

              Maybe there is a much more negative impression of hospitals in the regions you are suggesting your members live...

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by sierralimawhiskey View Post
                The talk of errors being a detractor to the technician role... well from my experience techs are more accurate because we have to work so hard to prove ourselves. As a profession it is much more important to have pharmacists doing clinical work, not operational.
                There's a hospital tech on here who started off in retail pharmacy so maybe they can give you insights. Isn't seen very often and is bad tempered. They worked in ASDA but their experiences of community were a lot better than mine, in that respect they are a bit of an optimist.

                Originally posted by sierralimawhiskey View Post
                I’m a pharmacy technician of 7 years, ACPT and MOT qualified and now starting to lead a team, which should be an example of what can be achieved. I’d like to think that I’m in a great position to be a role model and a leader (which is so much more important than being a manager!). I guess community pharmacies are a business so having a manager who aims to keep you rather than develop you at the risk of losing you is the established culture. We however want to get the best out of everyone and help steer them to where they want to be.
                If you are a tech then great, Wonderful.

                Johnep is not a pharmacist any more, he's not done it for around a decade, but a legend. Despite him not having the pleasure of experiencing community pharmacy going to hell in a handcart he knows what's going on.

                I worked in a pharmacy (quite a few different locations) 2015-2019 .

                Community Pharmacy is retail. Imagine the worst run supermarket you can think of and then apply all of those things to pharmacy. That's why it doesn't work. Once you realise it's a retail job through and through with retail managers and outlook it makes sense. You work in a healthcare job in a hospital. Think of if you were interviewing supermarket workers for tech, the sort of attitudes, things they've had to put up with and odd questions they'd ask you. That's why.

                Originally posted by sierralimawhiskey View Post
                I appreciate that training as a tech is different in community, however across all training providers there is an expectation of GCSE maths A-C or equivalent, which is a higher standard than any calculation I’ve ever done in pharmacy. The most complex we actually do is a weekly reducing course of prednisolone, which is multiples of 7. Every tech and assistant I’ve interviewed from community has been able to achieve this. Long gone are the days of calculating extemporaneous preparations. I’ve never really understood how to do this and hospitals are getting rid of extemp preps as too great a risk. I think tarring a section of pharmacy professionals as having poor maths skills is really negative.

                Maybe there is a much more negative impression of hospitals in the regions you are suggesting your members live...
                The prednisolone tapering calculation is on the dispenser's course (for one of the two main providers). So in theory they should be able to do it. A-C at GCSE is completely meaningless guide as to numeracy. I used to tutor numeracy for basic calculations to get on nursing, teaching, various NHS jobs and a wide demographic is out of practice at calculations. It usually only takes a couple of months of work and they are at the required standard. On the other hand four members of staff were university educated and when I started a fifth one who left. Despite this one of the members of staff who had a degree was refused to be put on the dispensers course and they got hacked off and left. I was told by my manager a stream of negative comments like 'I wasn't suited to this work' even though I had glowing reports from a lot of locums.

                Anyway best of luck. I can see you've very sceptical about why someone from community wouldn't apply for hospital. The university environment is so vastly different from community. I reckon all you techs and pharmacists should join me.

                Comment


                • #10
                  Just to clear a couple of points. I served a two year apprenticeship in retail and went into retail after my degree and after two years teaching. I soon got fed up with the hours and never being able to go away for an Easter weekend. Also, only two days off at Christmas. I then became Medical Rep to get a car. Bonus was a five day week, Easter weekends free and a week off at Christmas. Progressed into management as a Pharmaceutical Marketing Manager and then Export Manager. Throughout all these years I did locums to keep my hand in. After being made redundant in 1986, I returned to retail for a year but managed to escape after a year back into industry. Retiring in 1999 I became a locum until I was over 75. I carried on with a very small export business for a couple of years.
                  In the early days, the standard script was a mixture. These were finally killed off by the Peppermint Water case and one where sodium fluoride was substituted for sodium chloride. A case as we changed from metric to imperial weights involved confusion between 3mgh and 3 grains of amphetamine sulphate.
                  I also observed the change from hand written labels to computerized. Hospital was shunned because of the low pay and attitude to pharmacy. At a hospital locum, I asked re lunch expecting to dine with the consultants. I was told i should eat with the porters. I never worked in hospital again. Then came the revolution following Noel Hall and now hospital is vastly superior to retail in working conditions, hours, pension etc.
                  Have a look at the video Pharmacy Respect on utube. A parody of old attitudes to pharmacy staff.
                  I have worked with techs who were able to drive and they were glad to move from community to hospital.
                  Say where you are and I am sure lots will apply.
                  johnep

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