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Apprentice Abbie told: "You're hired"

A teenager who gave up her job working behind the till in a corner shop to take up an apprenticeship in the NHS is now looking forward to a fulfilling career in a busy pharmacy after being offered a fixed term position.

Abbie Alden began her Student Pharmacy Technician role with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) on February 1. She was offered the job after impressing her managers with her dedication and commitment while working as an Apprentice Pharmacy Assistant at Hellesdon Hospital, in Norwich, during the past year.

The 19-year-old, who lives in North Norfolk, joined the Trust last January after deciding against applying for a university place for fear of building up too much debt. Since then, she has earned a Level 2 Certificate in Pharmacy Service Skills (NVQ) and a Knowledge for the Level 2 Certificate in Pharmacy Service Skills (NVQ), all while earning a wage.

"The apprenticeship has given me the chance to learn on the job while getting paid at the same time," said Abbie, whose parents both work as nurses. "I originally wanted to be a solicitor, but the thought of getting into debt really put me off going to university. The apprenticeship was the ideal solution for me.

"Both my parents work in the NHS which sparked my interest, so I decided to go for it when I saw the pharmacy role advertised. I hadn't done anything with drugs before and science wasn't my strong point at school, so it provided me with just the challenge I needed."

During her apprenticeship, Abbie took responsibility for dispensing, putting together daily doses of medication for inpatients while studying for her qualifications via distance learning. She enjoyed the job so much that she jumped at the chance to apply when the opportunity of a two-year fixed term position arose.

"My new role will see me get out and about around the hospital more," she explained. "I'll be doing top-ups and dealing with emergency stocks and stock cupboards on the wards, which I'm really looking forward to.

"I have found it really interesting learning about the different drugs used to care for people with mental health issues, and have had some fantastic support from the team working in the pharmacy.

"I'd encourage anyone considering an apprenticeship to go for it – it's a great way to learn on the job, get a qualification and earn a wage at the same time."

Valerie Dixon, Senior Pharmacy Technician, said: "Abbie has been an excellent addition to our team and has made a real difference in the pharmacy. She has a fantastic attitude and is always willing to learn.

"Despite starting off with absolutely no NHS or pharmacy experience, she has learnt so much about drugs, strengths, doses and routes of administration and how to dispense.

"We are delighted that her application for the fixed-term post was successful and we are able to keep her in the team."

For more information about apprenticeship opportunities within Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, contact Jane Stringer, Support Workforce Careers Facilitator, on 01603 421564.​