My Experience: Mary Seacole Leadership Programme

Nick Kaye recalls his recent experience of undertaking the Mary Seacole programme.

When I first considered the Mary Seacole development programme, I was particularly interested in learning more about leadership. I am privileged to hold various leadership roles and was curious to know how the programme would improve my skills and add value to these roles. However, I also felt nervous about being away from the pharmacy in order to carry out the programme- and would investing my time be worth it? I decided to take the plunge.

The first session was in Taunton, in a lovely but imposing town hall. I was intrigued about who I was about to meet and what I would learn about myself during the duration of the course. The first thing that struck me was the diversity of 30 or so of us in the group. We had Chief Officers of LPCs, an ex-Regional Director of Boots, an NPA Board Member, Pharmacists that have dual roles across GP practices, a newly qualified Pharmacist that had been the Chemist & Druggist highly commended Pre-reg. of the year only 12 months ago, and various Pharmacy Technicians. One of whom was new in post in a Manager role, and one that had been a Manager of the same pharmacy for many years.

The trainers put our apprehension at ease instantly, and throughout the course they were both fantastic. One of my instant observations was the removal of hierarchy within the group; everyone was equal and all opinions were treated with respect.

The face-to-face training sessions were engaging and thought provoking, and between sessions we had the benefit of learning online. As a dad of four with a newborn, being able to continue my education at 2am was a great thing for me! Despite the commitment of taking a course, there are ways to fit the program around busy pharmacy and family lives.

I know the challenge with all learning is considering what happens when we go back to the ‘real world’. I think everyone will take different things from this programme; in my case it was being able to take a fresh look at the processes we have in the pharmacy and ask why do we do what we do. If the answer is ‘because we always have’, maybe that isn’t the correct approach. Following the techniques I learnt at Mary Seacole, we have changed some of our service recruitment and delivery into a better ‘pharmacy team’ approach. This is making a real difference to our bottom line in hard financial times, and creating a more engaged and empowered team environment.

Through being on the programme I have learnt more about myself and my personal strengths and weaknesses. I believe that developing an understanding of myself has made me a better leader in pharmacy, locally and nationally. If you are interested in the Mary Seacole programme but unsure about making the commitment, I would thoroughly recommend to all NPA members to give it a go. One last thing from me, look up Mary Seacole- what an amazing lady!

Learn about eLearning with the NPA

The NPA’s eLearning platform is a fast-developing, interactive and innovative way to carry out training. As the NPA’s eLearning content developers, our job is to convert the current NPA paper courses to an eLearning format, making them available online. This involves adhering to eLearning methodologies and principles and making the training interactive to ensure students are learning in the most efficient way possible. Many of our courses include quizzes, assessments and other engaging activities.

eLearning is preferable for many learners because they have the opportunity to log in and complete their courses online at their own pace, while being able to learn independently. Students are assigned a supervising pharmacist who acts as a mentor should the student need any guidance. The supervising pharmacist plays an important role in the student’s learning journey as they are responsible for reviewing and grading their student’s activity books, and can easily complete this task on the eLearning platform.

The NPA’s eLearning course for Pre-registration Pharmacists is a blend of face-to-face study days and eLearning resources. Throughout the year our Professional Development Pharmacists travel off-site to deliver face-to-face training on topics such as the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. We produce eLearning content to support these study days and our formative modules focus on interaction and engagement, often using visual activities like matching drag-and-drop. We use animation to connect with students- for example, a pumping heart to show the direction of blood flow and an interactive BMI calculator. Along the way, students answer questions based on case studies and complete informative, clinical and calculative tests which do not qualify for an official result but give users an indication of how they are progressing. There are many resources that plug into the course programme which includes webinars, and these can be viewed live by the student or downloaded as a presentation after it has aired.

The content we create is bespoke and we develop it in house at the NPA. We produce original graphics and images for each course, giving our platform a unique flair. These images can then be used by our pharmacists when creating study day training material, creating a cohesive theme. This attention to detail is one of the things that sets the NPA’s training platforms apart from other providers. Our expert team works closely with the NPA’s pharmacists to combine their clinical knowledge with engaging, educational methods. If students have any queries about courses or using the eLearning platform, they can speak directly with our pharmacist course leaders here at the NPA; there is always expert support at hand.

The NPA’s eLearning courses are very competitively priced compared to other players in the industry. eLearning is a cost-effective form of training that saves NPA members a considerable amount of money, and this is due to the fact that travel costs and time spent away from the pharmacy is minimised.

We are excited to be launching the Health Champion course online very soon. This course compromises four modules and is packed with interaction and animation. We could go as far as saying this will be our most dynamic course yet and will showcase the NPA’s eLearning platform at its finest.


Authors: Natasha Bothma and Melanie Lewis