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  • Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm hoping for some input from other people on a decision I need to make.

    I'm changing careers for one in healthcare and have a choice of two or three different positions. At present the top two are Nurse and Pharmacy Technician. I've seen other threads that discuss Nursing vs Pharmacist as a pathways, but I'm in a slightly different position and times are changing.

    First a little about me, I already have a first degree (in Business Management and Chinese Studies) and a level 7 diploma (teaching English as a foreign language.) I'm 31 and my wife and I hope to buy our own place to live in 3 years time (her visa prevents her income being included in the mortgage calculations at present.) I've already applied for PGdip Nursing courses starting this September, I'm through to the final interviews for 3 of them so far, so I should be offered a place on at least one of them. These courses, for those that don't know, are 2 year fast-track courses to become a registered nurse. I have also had a pharmacy offer me an unpaid work placement so that I can do Pharmacy NVQs. Finding a pharmacy that would take me on, even unpaid, was very difficult.

    Anyway, the pros and cons of both so far, as far as I see it, are:

    Nursing (pros)
    • [*=1]Level 7 qualification
      [*=1]Become an independent practitioner
      [*=1]Wide range of areas, skills, potential once qualified.
      [*=1]Could realistically be earning £40,000+ per year in around 7 years
      [*=1]This year there is still the bursary and no tuition fees

    Nursing (cons)
    • [*=1]Two years of not earning
      [*=1]Bursary of only £1000 to £4000 (depends on my wife's income at the time
      [*=1]Very intense course
      [*=1]May have to spend several years in areas of nursing that don't interest me

    Pharmacy Tech (pros)
    • [*=1]I'm good at Chemistry and Biology
      [*=1]I can work whilst studying
      [*=1]Pharmacology is something that really interests me.
      [*=1]The Tech role is likely to become even more interesting/varied in the near(ish) future
      [*=1]Working in the community helping people with minor ailments

    Pharmacy Tech (cons)
    • [*=1]Low pay in community pharmacy
      [*=1]A bit of a glass ceiling even with new roles for Techs (no route from Technician to Pharmacist without spending £60,000+)
      [*=1]Likely to always be a dependent practitioner


    What do you all think? Am I missing something?

  • #2
    Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

    Nursing might be the wiser choice given the current direction of pharmacy.
    47 BC : Julius Cesar : Veni Vidi Vici : I came, I saw I conquered.
    2018 AD : Modern Man : I shopped, I clicked, I collected.
    How times change.

    If you find you have read something that has upset or offended you an anyway please unread it at once.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

      Difficult choice, though if you had a science degree I would have suggested a third option of training as a physician associate. I've currently got my mother trying to persuade me to follow that route!

      I'm a Senior Pharmacy Technician in the NHS. I trained in hospital rather than in the community and I think that if you want to achieve financially then that is your best option. Training places for the NVQ 3 will be advertised in the next few months on the NHS jobs website, so it's worth setting up a search on there so you know when they become available. Slight problem might occur if they restrict admission to those with only GCSE level qualifications, so they can call them apprentices and pay them accordingly!

      Nursing and hospital techs have the same salary opportunities. I'm currently a Band 5 which is the same grade as a newly qualified nurse. We both have the same opportunities for progression to Band 8, the same as pharmacists do. Community and hospital techs do very different jobs and in hospital they have a lot more autonomy than in community. They are also managed directly by technicians rather than pharmacists and work alongside, rather than under, pharmacists. Roles are much more clearly defined, and you don't get the odd locum coming in and telling you that he won't let you do your job because he doesn't trust you!

      I don't think that techs will lose their role in hospital, in fact it seems to be expanding. We do a lot of donkey work especially during medicine reconciliation, chasing up GPs for information and contacting companies that directly supply drugs to patients, and confirming that the drugs they bring in are the ones that they actually are supposed to have. Though you would be amazed by how many patients come in with a bagful of drugs but then tell you that they take few, if any, of them for various reasons. I had one person tell me that they only took one of their 'water' tablets if their ankles were swollen! I had to go and tell the pharmacist that although they were prescribed a load of stuff, they were hardly taking any of it, and then left him to advise them that they should be taking them every day, and that if they had taken them, then they probably wouldn't have needed to be admitted.

      In community, techs might struggle if pharmacy closures and the move to hub and spoke take place. And if pharmacists take on new more clinical roles then I'm not convinced that the current support staff will be needed. I see it moving to become a more broad based healthcare assistant post, in the same way that occupational therapy assistants, speech therapy assistants and physiotherapy assistants are being rolled together to become generic therapy assistants doing whatever is needed at a particular time. I can't see any need for pharmacy support staff in a fully automated hub, it will be engineers to service them and minimum wage people supplying materials to the packing lines, and will bear no resemblance to current methods.

      Nursing is something that I've considered but decided that it's not my cup of tea! There's a huge amount of paperwork to be done, though I'm not convinced of the benefit that it brings to patient care, and in some cases it seems to be something that nurses do because they have to be seen doing it, rather than because it serves any real purpose. For example, one of the nurses that I'm friends with writes at least half a page of information about each of her patients every day. Is that information really essential? Not really according to her, but if she didn't do it then she could be accused of shirking. Ticky boxes would serve the same purpose. Obviously the cost for all this writing is patient care, and I know that many nurses become frustrated at not being able to offer the standard of care that they feel they should be because of paperwork.

      It's a difficult decision, but for me it would come down to either getting onto a hospital tech course, or training as a nurse. The future for community looks too uncertain at the moment to opt for that. Hope this helps.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

        Thank you for the replies. Just a couple of things, if you don't mind.

        I've had several people tell me to train in community then switch to hospital or primary care, Sparkybw does this sound realistic? I've notice a lot of trainee pharmacy tech role exclude me because of my previous qualifications.

        I've looked at the physician associate role, still a two-year course but looks very interesting. Obviously my first degree is not suitable, but I'm wondering if it's possible for an experienced pharmacy tech to get on the course? Would they also need a science degree or would their experience be enough?

        The future of pharmacy does seem interesting. I've be thinking that if the clinical check is done in the 'hub', would it not the be possible for the 'spokes' to be run by technicians, who also help with minor ailments/ provide otc medicines. It would seem like a way of keeping Pharmcies/medicine shops open in small communities, whilst also saving money for the NHS? It would only need a slight regulation change as the technician could do the final accuracy check?

        sorry if any of these questions/comments are too misguided.

        One final point, is that I used to live in China and as far as I knew there weren't any GPs. Just pharmacies and hospitals: minor ailment to pharmacy, more serious to hospital. With the level of training of pharmacists in the UK, wouldn't this be a good way of cutting the NHS costs? I'd be interested to know what other people think?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

          Originally posted by sparkybw View Post
          Difficult choice, though if you had a science degree I would have suggested a third option of training as a physician associate. I've currently got my mother trying to persuade me to follow that route!

          I'm a Senior Pharmacy Technician in the NHS. I trained in hospital rather than in the community and I think that if you want to achieve financially then that is your best option. Training places for the NVQ 3 will be advertised in the next few months on the NHS jobs website, so it's worth setting up a search on there so you know when they become available. Slight problem might occur if they restrict admission to those with only GCSE level qualifications, so they can call them apprentices and pay them accordingly!

          Nursing and hospital techs have the same salary opportunities. I'm currently a Band 5 which is the same grade as a newly qualified nurse. We both have the same opportunities for progression to Band 8, the same as pharmacists do. Community and hospital techs do very different jobs and in hospital they have a lot more autonomy than in community. They are also managed directly by technicians rather than pharmacists and work alongside, rather than under, pharmacists. Roles are much more clearly defined, and you don't get the odd locum coming in and telling you that he won't let you do your job because he doesn't trust you!

          I don't think that techs will lose their role in hospital, in fact it seems to be expanding. We do a lot of donkey work especially during medicine reconciliation, chasing up GPs for information and contacting companies that directly supply drugs to patients, and confirming that the drugs they bring in are the ones that they actually are supposed to have. Though you would be amazed by how many patients come in with a bagful of drugs but then tell you that they take few, if any, of them for various reasons. I had one person tell me that they only took one of their 'water' tablets if their ankles were swollen! I had to go and tell the pharmacist that although they were prescribed a load of stuff, they were hardly taking any of it, and then left him to advise them that they should be taking them every day, and that if they had taken them, then they probably wouldn't have needed to be admitted.

          In community, techs might struggle if pharmacy closures and the move to hub and spoke take place. And if pharmacists take on new more clinical roles then I'm not convinced that the current support staff will be needed. I see it moving to become a more broad based healthcare assistant post, in the same way that occupational therapy assistants, speech therapy assistants and physiotherapy assistants are being rolled together to become generic therapy assistants doing whatever is needed at a particular time. I can't see any need for pharmacy support staff in a fully automated hub, it will be engineers to service them and minimum wage people supplying materials to the packing lines, and will bear no resemblance to current methods.

          Nursing is something that I've considered but decided that it's not my cup of tea! There's a huge amount of paperwork to be done, though I'm not convinced of the benefit that it brings to patient care, and in some cases it seems to be something that nurses do because they have to be seen doing it, rather than because it serves any real purpose. For example, one of the nurses that I'm friends with writes at least half a page of information about each of her patients every day. Is that information really essential? Not really according to her, but if she didn't do it then she could be accused of shirking. Ticky boxes would serve the same purpose. Obviously the cost for all this writing is patient care, and I know that many nurses become frustrated at not being able to offer the standard of care that they feel they should be because of paperwork.

          It's a difficult decision, but for me it would come down to either getting onto a hospital tech course, or training as a nurse. The future for community looks too uncertain at the moment to opt for that. Hope this helps.
          A typically honest and well thought out response Sparky. Not "for a technician " but for anyone with a background in pharmacy practice based on their experience, reasoning and intellect.

          I think by the time the lady qualifies any shake out in community pharmacy will have occurred, however, and no disrespect to technicians, I see a big role for nurses in both primary and secondary care not least because of the opportunity to acquire prescribing qualifications and rights.
          http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Hmbyj0XFUhA

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

            Originally posted by Tony Schofield View Post
            A typically honest and well thought out response Sparky. Not "for a technician " but for anyone with a background in pharmacy practice based on their experience, reasoning and intellect.

            I think by the time the lady qualifies any shake out in community pharmacy will have occurred, however, and no disrespect to technicians, I see a big role for nurses in both primary and secondary care not least because of the opportunity to acquire prescribing qualifications and rights.
            Thank you again for the reply, but one slight correct, I'm a man. I suppose that's what happens when you are interested in two roles that are predominately done by women.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

              I think as sparky says go for physician assistant. That should progress you financially much better than would becoming a pharmacy technician as wages usually very low.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

                Originally posted by Kaidawei View Post
                Thank you again for the reply, but one slight correct, I'm a man. I suppose that's what happens when you are interested in two roles that are predominately done by women.
                In the UK nursing and technician jobs are done by men and it is no barrier to them!
                http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Hmbyj0XFUhA

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

                  Originally posted by Kaidawei View Post
                  Thank you for the replies. Just a couple of things, if you don't mind.

                  I've had several people tell me to train in community then switch to hospital or primary care, Sparkybw does this sound realistic? I've notice a lot of trainee pharmacy tech role exclude me because of my previous qualifications.

                  I've looked at the physician associate role, still a two-year course but looks very interesting. Obviously my first degree is not suitable, but I'm wondering if it's possible for an experienced pharmacy tech to get on the course? Would they also need a science degree or would their experience be enough?

                  The future of pharmacy does seem interesting. I've be thinking that if the clinical check is done in the 'hub', would it not the be possible for the 'spokes' to be run by technicians, who also help with minor ailments/ provide otc medicines. It would seem like a way of keeping Pharmcies/medicine shops open in small communities, whilst also saving money for the NHS? It would only need a slight regulation change as the technician could do the final accuracy check?

                  sorry if any of these questions/comments are too misguided.

                  One final point, is that I used to live in China and as far as I knew there weren't any GPs. Just pharmacies and hospitals: minor ailment to pharmacy, more serious to hospital. With the level of training of pharmacists in the UK, wouldn't this be a good way of cutting the NHS costs? I'd be interested to know what other people think?
                  You can change sectors, but as I've already said, there is a big difference between them because in hospital you spend so much time out of the dispensary. You would be trained to do those areas so it's not insurmountable.

                  I wouldn't think that you have any chance of getting onto the physician associate course with just an NVQ3, though you could use it to become a pharmacist if you got distinctions across the board, as the course is at A level standard. If you were looking at going that route, then I would suggest doing a couple of Open University courses in Chemistry and Human Biology. There's a brilliant course that I did called Medicine, Molecules and Drugs and you get a molecule set to play with too. I have to admit that was the deciding factor for me to do the course!

                  I don't see any need for an accuracy check in the spokes and the most likely scenario is direct delivery to the patient.

                  Your final paragraph would make a good thread for discussion so you should open a new thread for it. There's a thread on a local forum about NHS reform that you might want to use in your new thread. http://www.readytogo.net/smb/threads...eform.1173403/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

                    Originally posted by Tony Schofield View Post
                    In the UK nursing and technician jobs are done by men and it is no barrier to them!
                    In fact men have an advantage as they can progress their career into management roles while woman take career breaks for child rearing, and then need to work restricted hours to fit around home responsibilities.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

                      In my early days all technicians were men. I was trained by one who had been trained during the war by the army.
                      My first experience of a girl technician was in 1958. She was the dispenser at Timothy Whites where I did a three month summer locum.
                      johnep

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

                        Originally posted by Kaidawei View Post
                        Hi Everyone,

                        I'm hoping for some input from other people on a decision I need to make.

                        I'm changing careers for one in healthcare and have a choice of two or three different positions. At present the top two are Nurse and Pharmacy Technician. I've seen other threads that discuss Nursing vs Pharmacist as a pathways, but I'm in a slightly different position and times are changing.

                        I have also had a pharmacy offer me an unpaid work placement so that I can do Pharmacy NVQs. Finding a pharmacy that would take me on, even unpaid, was very difficult.
                        I applied for pharmacy roles for n years - hospital, community and retail. Finally got in to retail. You will find it very hard to get on a tech course in the community and pretty hard getting on a counter assistant and dispensing assistant too. I had exactly the same problem. You might get in like me and find there's a very thick glass ceiling to a lesser extent in community but more in retail. When I applied for hospital they were much more respectful about qualifications (particularly A-level chemistry) and the will to learn. Community seemed to me to be more based on trust. Retail didn't care the slightest in past qualifications (except pharmacy ones) and was biased almost totally on communication skills. The interviewer kept on saying incorrectly aggressively reciting how dispensing assistant was QCF/NVQ level 3 and was really 'hard' and would take me two years of nose to the grindstone to get. If I was you I would be massively bigging up your TEFL about how it makes you such an amazing communicator - the practical experience, the learning and not the level. Personally I'd try and avoid saying phrases like 'first degree', I think it has the potential to offend. In a retail environment you'll get retorts like 'everyone has their qualifications, what do you actually have?'

                        All the people I work with are training up in retail and then hoping to get on a tech course in retail, community or more unlikely in hospital. There is a huge amount of the grass is greener type stuff where what people want is just to work on the other side where they believe it's a better job, much better hours and more development.

                        I would scout out physician associate, but it will be very difficult to convince them to let you on it. If I didn't feel too old (similar age to you) then I'd seriously consider it even with the large price tag.

                        Otherwise I think what people have said on here is excellent advice.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

                          Mirror very much what other poster said about Open University (too expensive now sadly) and MOOCs.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

                            Originally posted by johnep View Post
                            In my early days all technicians were men. I was trained by one who had been trained during the war by the army.
                            My first experience of a girl technician was in 1958. She was the dispenser at Timothy Whites where I did a three month summer locum.
                            johnep
                            Thank you Johnep, that's very interesting. I also understand that in some countries, for example Senagal, most nurses are men. It's funny how gender stereotypes come about.

                            do you have any idea why the change from male pharmacy technicians to majority female pharmacy technicians came about?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Nursing vs Pharmacy Tech

                              Thank you again for the comments.

                              Physicians Associate was an idea I had if I went the pharmacy tech route. The idea being, become a pharmacy tech and slowly do more level 4, 5 and 6 modules until I had enough to get onto a physician associate course, obviously contact course providers would be the next logical step to see if this is a realistic option. Although this would be an expensive route it would be spread out over many years and I'd be earning whilst studying. I may be a bit too much in terms of study hours and would take nearly ten years to complete.

                              If I go the nursing route I don't see the point of becoming a physicians associate, just become nurse practitioner.

                              Anyway, it will depend on what options do actually open to me: will I get accepted on any nursing courses? Will the pharmacy actually give me a work placement for a lower level course; it's easy to offer, but then back out later on.

                              Thanks again.

                              Comment

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