Posted by: Helen Caley23 SEP 2011
I began the second day of my hospital pharmacy work experience in the quality assurance section of the aseptics unit. Its role is to check the quality of all products entering and leaving the pharmacy. It has especially rigorous control over aseptic products, however, it also has a proactive role in preventing errors from occurring. For example, it checks the quality of medical gases, the environment in which the aseptic products are made, and it constructs standard operating procedures for every possible event in the aseptics unit.
The unit can only make products according to a prescription as it is not licensed to make products in advance. Employees producing aseptic products can be monitored by CCTV - a useful tool to check they are following the standard operating procedures and, if necessary, to identify where errors may have occurred.
I talked to a pharmacist in the Quality Assurance Department who outlined the hospital pharmacy pay grade structure. When you are newly qualified you start on Grade 6 as a rotational pharmacist. It is then common to do a part-time clinical diploma to allow progression to Grade 7 where you can become more specialised and work on more demanding wards like the paediatrics ward.
She says her job is very varied; she typically spends a few hours a day in the dispensary, a considerable amount of her time is spent on the wards and she also gets the opportunity to assess reviews of new drugs coming onto the market. The main thing she stressed is that she really gets to use her clinical knowledge. I can’t help but compare all of this to the roles of a community pharmacist who, in my opinion, spends a lot of the day as a checking machine!