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#WeAreTogether: meet the Reading student running a test centre for Covid-19 – University of Reading

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#WeAreTogether: meet the Reading student running a test centre for Covid-19

Release Date 29 June 2020

Ryan Swales and partner dressed in their PPE


Covid-19 testing has been happening in part thanks to a University of Reading student who put himself forward to supervise a local centre.

Ryan Swales, a Masters student in the School of Pharmacy has been working as a supervisor and tester trainer at a centre testing people in Hull who have Covid-19 symptoms since starting in April. Swales, aged 23 and his partner have been combining work in the test centre with their studies.

Ryan said:

“I have always enjoyed interacting with patients and being able to help in any way possible. Having spoken to patients in the pharmacies and hearing how the virus had effected so many lives, both young and old, made me want to do more.

“The work onsite has been fantastic with each day presenting us new opportunities to meet and help people. Initially the work was very daunting, having little experience managing a multidisciplinary team alongside external contractors at this scale, but soon found that this apprehension was shared by everybody!

“Our teams consist of people from all walks of life coming in to help, from chimney sweepers, tattoo artist, art gallery managers, electrical engineers, ex-prison officers, and undergraduate students, including my partner who’s a Reading University microbiology student.

"Working alongside other people who have shown nothing but dedication to helping others has made me proud to be a part of this project.”

Ryan and others who have been working to test people with Covid-19 symptoms receive specific training from a team of pharmacists on swabbing technique, PPE, infection control, and patient management. Ryan also had additional support to become a supervisor and tester trainer, and focused on NHS guidelines and governance, site management, and teaching and training of future testers.

Ryan said:

“The days vary with changing guidelines and restrictions on testing criteria, allowing new groups of people to be tested from, children and teenagers to care home teams and NHS staff. The days are long but rewarding, with some interactions being fun and light-hearted to others just needing a little bit of support during a distressing and difficult time.

“I heard about the role from my mother who works as a pharmacy manager, as they started recruiting internally. I applied for supervisor and tester trainer, and my partner applied for tester, which we both started a week later! As the testing site was beginning its advertisement, my partner and I wanted to do as much as we could to help, and felt the testing site was the perfect way to support the NHS and our community.”

Dr Mark Dallas, Head of Outreach for the Reading School of Pharmacy at the University of Reading said:

“It is great to hear of Ryan’s work and contribution to combatting Covid-19. Our Pharmacy students are well equipped to lead from the front in the Covid test centres, and it is a reflection of Ryan’s commitment to helping others that he is involved in the national testing program.”

Ryan is currently studying for a Masters in Pharmacy, a four year degree that includes a qualified pharmacy accreditation from the General Pharmaceutical Council:




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