Rae Kelly-Hunnigale
Assistant Technical Officer

Show transcript


I get to dispense controlled drugs.

My name is Rae Kelly-Hunnigale, I’m an ATO here. That stands for Assistant Technical Officer, so basically I help with the day-to-day running of the dispensary. So I’ve been doing Pharmacy for about 10 years, even though I look 12. [laugh]

A normal day would be open up first thing at 9 o’clock in the morning, make sure you check the fridge temperatures as well, because you have to stay in a particular range, making sure that we’ve got all we need to start our day off, green bags, all the sundries that we need to complete the prescriptions, supporting the other staff that are there, sometimes running to the wards in the hospital, which is a nice break sometimes from the pharmacy. That’s pretty much it really, just giving all round support throughout the day.

The difference between being here and in the community is that we get to dispense controlled drugs: like cocaine nasal sprays and Midazolam, as well it’s a good chance to see what they are used for as well. I originally wanted to study pharmacy at uni. I didn’t in the end, I did Forensic Biology. Started working at Boots, I was a Healthcare Assistant and then there was a position for a dispenser so I kind of fell into it really, but I enjoyed it, so I was just like ‘I can do this for life!’ [laugh]

So they’re very good here, the education and training team are very good with support and giving these opportunities to do things, especially with secondments, so you can do whatever, you can take it to other hospitals, you can specialise, some people specialize after that.

Things you need to succeed are good communication skills, just to make sure you are filtering the information down correctly, also as well, having empathy for the patients. They don’t want to be here you know and sometimes just being nice to them and being polite and sympathizing and giving them the time that they need, helps them get through the day. You also need to be a people person and be able to get along with your colleagues as well. You need to have patience; it can be a bit frustrating sometimes, but you have to just wait and just make the day go easy, so you can just skip out of here by the end of the day, and everyone is happy. Something along those lines.

The person that has been pivotal in my career was the person who got me started in a dispensary in the first place, which was my old boss at Boots. She was the one who really pushed me to become a dispenser in the first place and she helped me with my training and just encouraged me, and was just there every step of the way and I’m very grateful for that. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here now.

Coolest thing I’ve done in my career? Probably actually coming here! I wanted to be in hospital for a while, and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to come here. So yeah, probably that!

A few words from Rae ...

I am an Assistant Technical Officer. It is my responsibility to support the pharmacy team in completing the daily tasks to ensure that our patient receive first class care. Here are some of my responsibilities during the working day.

  • Check and put away Dispensary stock drugs
  • Undertake any other duties required by Senior Dispensary Staff
  • Ensure dispensary equipment is clean and ready for use
  • Replenish stock of medicine bottles, cartons, dispensary bags, measures and caps
  • Prepare the ward and departments bags for delivery
  • Complete Pharmacy top up service
  • Input patient data on the PTS management system recording arrival times
  • Deal promptly with all Hospital staff
  • Enter data for all TTO’s and inpatient charts into PTS management system
  • Dispense medicines including controlled drugs
  • File data relating to the Dispensary, e.g. TTO’s

Shortly after this interview, I was promoted to a new role within the Trust:

Pre-registration Trainee Pharmacy Technician

As I completed the NVQ Level 2 Certificate in Pharmacy Service Skills, this paved the way for me to apply to the job and I was lucky to get it. As part of my new role, it is my responsibility to complete a portfolio of competence over a two-year period to complete the City and Guilds L3 NVQ Diploma in Pharmacy Service Skills (QCF) and complete the L3 Diploma in Pharmaceutical Science by attending lessons and completing assignments at Bromley College. As part of my training, I also rotate through various departments within pharmacy. It is a great opportunity to acquire new skills and see how the different departments in pharmacy operate.

Exciting aspects of Rae's job

PATIENTS - You feel a sense of pride when you have helped a patient on the road to recovery.

COLLEAGUES - It is great getting to know your colleagues and having banter with them.

LEARNING ABOUT THE DRUGS WE KEEP/DISPENSE - Allows you to understand what the drugs are and how they work to aid the patient in their recovery.


The main challenge with the role is communication. Good communication is essential between yourself and patients, and yourself and colleagues at all levels. Poor communication can lead to mistakes, which in turn will affect patient care which is our main focus as ATOs and as a member of the pharmacy team.

Grades needed
  • At least GCSEs or equivalent qualifications, good literacy, numeracy, and IT skills.
  • Ideally, NVQ Level 2 Certificate in Pharmacy Service Skills.
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