I qualified as a pharmacist in August 2013 and have since been working in a large teaching hospital as a shift-working pharmacist, whilst also undertaking my clinical diploma. The past few months have been an absolute rollercoaster, and I have definitely have had my ups and downs. Despite this, I have learnt lots since qualifying, not just in terms of my clinical knowledge, but additionally my prioritisation, organisational and communication skills.
When I first started I found I would be covering several wards, which originally made me feel overwhelmed. Facing the wards alone and being accountable for all my decisions made me feel nervous and I would sometimes find myself triple-checking everything! However, I was also excited to be able to take on the extra responsibility, and felt happy and proud at the end of the day when I reflected, knowing I had taken on and completed a new challenge.
Eventually I began to understand how each ward worked and my confidence started to grow. I got into a routine of prioritising discharges and new patients each day. I felt a lot calmer when I felt in control and could plan my day, and as I began to know the staff more on the wards, we began to appreciate each others job roles and responsibilities so we could work together, and eventually I felt like part of their team.
I was given lots of support through other senior pharmacists in my Trust and also my diploma tutor who would visit me on the ward every week to assess how I was working on the ward, and to provide me with feedback on my work. They would also work through my ward objectives with me, and provide me with resources to help further my learning. I am also fortunate to work with a large team of junior pharmacists, who can provide me with advice from their previous experience.
Being an RPS member has been of great benefit to me since qualifying. The MEP has been a fantastic resource, especially when working in the outpatient pharmacy. I also receive the support alerts through to my email account, so I can always ensure I am up to date on the latest communication regarding patient safety. One of the most valuable parts of being a member of the RPS is the Pharmaceutical Journal, which not only keeps me updated with the latest news in the pharmacy world, but can be a brilliant resource to further my learning, and complete that all important CPD.
I am also excited to start making the best use of the Foundation Pharmacy Framework, in order to support me by building upon my professional skills, and advance my practice so that I can hopefully be “the best I can be!” I also make use of the Local Practice Forum in my area, which provides me with a great opportunity to meet and network with other pharmacists.
My advice to others would be to make the most of the opportunities that present to you, and one of the best ways of doing this is to make sure you are a member of your professional body. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and learn a lot from the people around you. Every day you will find you are learning something new, which makes the job of a pharmacist both a rewarding and interesting learning experience.