NAW: Laura Oliver's journey from Apprentice to Lead ePMA Technician

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in News on 7th February, 2024

Laura Oliver, apprenticeTo mark Apprentice Wednesday for National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), we spoke to Laura Oliver, Lead electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration​ (ePMA) and Omnicell Medicines Optimisation Technician, about her experience as a Level 5 Operations and Development Manager.

Tell us about yourself and the apprenticeship you completed:

My job role at the time of the apprenticeship enrolment was as a Senior Pharmacy Technician within the Aseptic Services Unit at the Royal Devon University Hospital. Examples of some of my day-to-day duties were to ensure that medicines manufactured were safe and fit for purpose before being sent to the wards, managing staff, completing appraisals and providing training to new starters. I also worked as an NVQ assessor, coaching and mentoring students working towards an NVQ qualification.

My line manager at the time said this apprenticeship would be really good for me and my development, so this is when I contacted the Workforce Education Team for some advice and guidance and enrolled onto the Operations and Departmental Manager at Level 5.

What did the learning and development process include?

As part of the apprenticeship, I attended face-to-face classes at Exeter College for one week every eight weeks to learn the management theory we needed to complete the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management. The tutors was so supportive and very approachable and I thoroughly enjoyed the course content.

Whilst at work, 20% of my work hours were allocated to learning ‘on the job’. This gave me the opportunity to shadow my management team as well as make visits to other areas where I wanted to gain knowledge and experience. For me I was interested in learning about project management and budgets as these were areas of management I had little experience. Learning the theory and then working alongside experts within my workplace really built my confidence and gave me the incentive to move into another job role where I had the opportunity to do this myself. I therefore applied to work within a project team at Devon Partnership NHS Trust implementing a new electronic prescribing system.

What are the benefits of choosing an apprenticeship as an education route, your achievements and successes?

A benefit to me was that all topics that we covered in our apprenticeship were relevant to the job role that I was doing. Working within a project management role, the change management and project management modules were particularly useful. It allowed me to gain the leadership and management theory I needed to progress within my role whilst at the same time being able to gain the knowledge and experience of doing it within the workplace. I now feel I have the skills to progress to a project manager position myself.

I do believe that this apprenticeship made me a better person and a better manager by giving me a deeper understanding. My confidence has increased in all aspects of my job role and I feel able to share my knowledge with other members of my team. Another huge benefit of an apprenticeship as an educational route is the ability to get paid whilst you learn.

Do you have any future plans?

I am looking to enrol in the NHS Digital Health Leadership programme and become a senior leader in this field within our organisation. I am also now taking on the role as a Mentor for future CMI Level 5 Apprenticeships so I can continue my passion for coaching and mentoring.