Medical student Katarina Kuikko clocks out from her last shift at her summer job. The goodbye will not be for long, as Katarina and Tamro part ways only temporarily: She will continue working at the warehouse alongside her studies. In the final part of the article series, Katarina shares her experiences on what impressed her the most in the pharmaceutical industry over the summer.
Katarina Kuikko, 23, worked as a summer employee at Tamro’s distribution centre and warehouse in Tampere, which ships pharmaceutical products all over Finland.
– For a medical student, the experience was interesting. I worked with different types of medications on a daily basis in a way that doctor’s don’t usually get to experience, Kuikko says.
She was particularly impressed by how well regulated the pharmaceutical sector is. Both the safety of personnel and the minutiae of collecting and distributing drugs is ensured at every step of the way.
– When I started out this summer, I signed dozens of documents related to safety and proper work procedures and underwent several training courses before I was even admitted inside the warehouse. Whatever their job description, everyone working at the warehouse must go over the same training and update their skills regularly
Katarina Kuikko learned a great deal over the summer, from industry jargon to different work methods at each station and the handling of drugs containing harmful substances. For example, she received special training on the handling of cytostatic drugs.
– These drugs must not be allowed to come into contact with the skin or eyes. Special care must also be taken when cleaning up damaged packaging. Cleaning supplies used for cytostatic drugs must be kept separate from other equipment. We received detailed instructions on how to handle such drugs in different situations.”
Knowledge of the pharma industry in support of a dream job
In addition to the precision demanded by the pharmaceutical industry, Kuikko was delighted to be able to follow the ways in which drugs are distributed smoothly to pharmacies and hospitals.
– When I started out this summer, I signed dozens of documents related to safety and proper work procedures and underwent several training courses before I was even admitted inside the warehouse. Whatever their job description, everyone working at the warehouse must go over the same training and update their skills regularly.
– A large proportion of drugs are manufactured outside Finland, and their supply chains are long. At the warehouse, we are a part of this chain as the morning shift receives shipments of drugs and the evening shift, myself included, pick them for distribution. At the end of the day, the drugs are shipped to buyers.
According to Kuikko, many medical students are interested in working in the pharmaceutical sector because of their studies. Many of her fellow students have worked summer jobs at the other end of the supply chain in pharmacies, receiving orders of drugs filled by Kuikko.
After graduating, drugs will also an integral part of her work in the medical profession.
– I have always wanted to know how diseases affect the body and how humans function as a whole of many different factors. I am particularly interested in hands-on work with patients, but it is fascinating to learn how the pharmaceutical sector functions and supports the work of doctors.
Engaging work at the warehouse
Kuikko tells that her summer job left a positive impression thanks to the pleasant and inclusive atmosphere at work.
– Tamro wants to hear what employees have on their mind, both positive and negative. Ideas, feedback and development suggestions can be left on information boards and supervisors’ feedback boxes, anonymously or not. It was emphasised to us that our ideas are always welcome, Kuikko says.
At the end of the summer, when surveying employees' interest in continuing at Tamro, Kuikko signed up without hesitation.
– I’ll continue in the evening shift in the same tasks as in the summer. I can pick and choose shifts according to my schedule so I don’t tire myself out. Because of that, the job is handy alongside my studies.
As a second year student in medical school, her days are dedicated to lectures, independent study and group assignments. Kuikko is most excited about study excursions and clinical work as the best means to learn what a doctor’s work is in practice.
– In our first year of study, we took blood samples of each other and got to see a doctor’s appointment first-hand as early as our second week. In other words, medical school is much more than learning from a book. From the very beginning, we get to experiment and observe our future profession and work environment. It motivates me, Kuikko says.
– Thanks to my summer job, I have new perspective on the drugs I deal with in my studies. I now understand the logistics of pharmaceutical products in Finland, how much is needed each day, and how they are delivered to customers.