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August 2015 – Work experience at my age?!!!

When I started this Madventure, I hadn’t realised that the tenets of Soroptimism – Educate, Enable and Empower were going to apply to me!   Through my various contacts I manage to arrange a day’s work experience at Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH), which has links to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital Blantyre.   The lovely admin staff there cut down half a tree to put the necessary paperwork in place all for me to spend a day shadowing the pharmacy staff.


When I last worked in hospital pharmacy, we wore white coats and ward pharmacy had only just been born.   In those days I proudly sported an array of spatulas in my lab coat pocket as we made various powders, lotions and potions.    Now it’s smart casual but short sleeves to improve infection control, and I’m happy to say that not only has ward pharmacy grown up in the UK but it is now a mature adult.   Manufacturing is done off site so not a pair of scales or spatula in sight and a robot assists with dispensing.    One thing that hadn’t changed was the in-patient pharmacy was still situated in the basement!

Birmingham Children's Hospital
Birmingham Children’s Hospital


The out-patient pharmacy at BCH, on the ground floor, has easy access and is a bright, welcoming spacious area, named by the children as the ‘Medicine Chest’.   The pharmacy staff spend time talking to the children and families as they give out the dispensed medication, much as I did in the past although in my day, out-patients had to negotiate the steps to the basement.

The pharmacy staff are very generous with their time as I take copious notes, and they share examples of the paperwork they use electronically so that’s less to carry.   As a parting gift they give me a box of Children’s BNFs (British National Formulary, the pharmacist’s ‘bible’ for dosages, side effects, interactions etc) as the 2015 is due out soon – I admit I struggle a little carrying them back to the train station, only just over 10kg in weight!

I wonder what the pharmacy is going to be like in Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, bet they haven’t got a robot.