Learning Pharmacy on-the-job
Kamna Naicker has 20 years of experience working at Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand in Auckland and now, with the help of her recently completed Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga qualification, she has been promoted to Pharmacy Technician.
Kamna graduated with the New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy (Level 5) in 2023, after completing the New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy (Level 4), which she enrolled for in 2017.
According to Kamna, she had always wanted to become a Pharmacy Technician at some stage, after starting her career at Te Whatu Ora as a Retail Supervisor in 2003, before spending nine years as a Pharmacy Assistant.
When the opportunity came to study with Open Polytechnic through Te Whatu Ora in 2017, Kamna jumped at the chance, initially becoming a Trainee Technician while studying. Now that she has graduated, she is a qualified Pharmacy Technician.
“I feel very proud to be a qualified Pharmacy Technician at Te Whatu Ora,” Kamna says.
“I had a trainee badge before, and now I don’t. It is a great feeling of satisfaction.”
“Professionally, it has opened more doors and opportunities for me to upgrade my career. Personally, this study has given me confidence, that if you aim high you can achieve your dreams.”
Kamna started her first role in the industry as a Retail Supervisor for Te Whatu Ora in 2003 and has worked there ever since.
She has always had a passion for the medical and pharmacy fields and been interested in knowing more than just the names of the different medicines.
“I have a curiosity to gain more in-depth knowledge about purpose, effect and side effects of the medicine,” she says.
As a Pharmacy Assistant, Kamna was involved in medicine preparation and thanks to the New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy programme, she was able to gain more knowledge in areas, including legislation and terms and conditions for medicine use.
Now her role involves medication dispensing, labelling, maintaining stock levels and assisting pharmacists in day-to-day activities.
“I wanted to advance my career to a higher level and pursue my career with Te Whatu Ora as I have always loved to serve the hospital community and to be a qualified Pharmacy Technician, the hospital benchmark was the New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy Level 5,” Kamna says.
“I have more confidence now to undertake higher studies and I would be considering that when the time arrives.”
Kamna was impressed by the New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy.
“The programme was really well structured, and it gave me an opportunity to apply my learning at work on a daily basis,” Kamna says.
“This actually motivated me during the study programme.”
Not only did Open Polytechnic provide support for Kamna, but so did her employers, Te Whatu Ora.
“I would like to say thanks to everyone who helped me during the programme,” Kamna says.
“It is a good feeling that you are learning and upgrading yourself in the same environment with the same people.”
The Te Whatu Ora team, including Kamna’s workplace tutor Clinical Lead Pharmacist Education Training and Practice Research, Kim Brackley, helped Kamna during her study journey.
This included providing her with study materials for her research during the final course of the level 5 programme. They also provided her with 1-2 hours of study time during work hours each day.
“I thank everyone who was involved in correcting, listening and guiding me through the programme,” Kamna says.
Distance learning provided by Open Polytechnic gave Kamna the ability to work and earn money, while learning, so she did not have to take a break from work for her studies.
It also made it easier for Kamna to plan her study, work and other commitments.
There were times when she had to take time off when she had her baby girl and had to stay home with her daughter during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“Thanks to Te Whatu Ora management for extending my contract so I could pursue and complete the study programme,” Kamna says.
For Kamna, the Open Polytechnic study materials were user-friendly and “really easy to understand”.
One of the highlights of the pharmacy programme was a project related to repacking and minimising wastage in the Te Whatu Ora Pharmacy Kamna was working in.
“I have done research and analysed pharmacy data for various medicines,” Kamna says.
“My management also liked my project which was useful in reducing the repack schedules.”
Kamna found time pressures associated with getting assignments submitted on time was initially a challenge.
It took some adjustments given it was her first time studying since high school.
While there were some challenges for Kamna, while studying, Open Polytechnic Senior Academic Staff Member John Allen and other Open Polytechnic kaimahi were there to offer her support.
“I would like to thank John Allen who was my tutor and the team from Open Polytechnic,” Kamna says.
“He supported and encouraged me when I was getting stressed about finishing the course in time.”
Kamna would like to encourage others to take up study.
“There will be challenges from day one, but don’t lose focus on what you are doing,” she says.
“In order to succeed, we must first believe we can. Open Polytechnic is a place where you can be yourself, upgrade yourself and become who you want to be.”
Now that she has completed her current studies, Kamna would like to spend more time with her family, while continuing working for Te Whatu Ora and serving the community in her current Pharmacy Technician role.
“I will try to make a difference in my community and life, and will aim for improvement,” Kamna says.
In the future, she will be focusing on gaining more experience in the pharmacy industry and is looking forward to learning more pharmacy skills.
“I feel proud to have accomplished one of my dreams,” Kamna says.
“Professionally, I take this as my first step of my career ladder and having gained confidence through the programme, I will aim to climb more steps.”
“If you really wish from the heart and work towards something, everything around you will help you to achieve it.”
The programme was really well structured, and it gave me an opportunity to apply my learning at work on a daily basis.