Ask the RPS: How to secure your summer placement in Hospital Pharmacy

This mLila Chohan - RPS piconth we ask Lila Chohan, RPS Foundation Champion and Pre-Registration trainee about her summer placements during her time at University. Lila informs us on how to secure a placement that’s right for you, and furthermore, how her summer placements helped her to determine the right career path when choosing which sector to go into for her Pre-Registration training year.

Why is it important to do a summer placement?
A summer placement is essential in order to become more familiar with the different career paths available as a Pre-Registration Pharmacist or upon qualifying. This will equip students with the grounding knowledge and experience required for future summer placements as well as the all-important Pre-Registration interview.  Students also have the opportunity to understand if this is an area they’d like to take their Pre-Registration year in. For me, undertaking summer placements enabled me to consolidate my learning throughout University and apply this to practice. My summer placements have enabled me to explore and secure the hospital career path I wanted to follow. I gained a greater understanding of what to expect within hospital pharmacy.

How did you go about finding the right summer placement for you?
I have always had an interest in hospital pharmacy, therefore my aim during my MPharm degree was to look for hospital based summer placements. I contacted pharmacy departments within hospitals to enquire about summer placement offers and application opening/closing dates. This allowed me to keep a timeline and to prepare ahead of the application opening dates. I also contacted the Teacher Practitioner at my University in order to become more familiar with the application timeline, which is invariably similar from year to year. I also found out the organiser of summer placements at the hospitals I was interested in and enquired about summer placements. There are useful links for hospital summer placements which outlines the various hospital trusts and relevant contacts across the country.

What type of tasks did you undertake on your summer placements?
I undertook several hospital summer placements and each day brought new tasks and challenges. I assisted Pharmacists within a range of specialities on their ward rounds, including taking a drug history from a variety of patients and interpreting drug charts. I undertook an audit, in addition to enhancing my dispensing skills when assisting the team. I attended multidisciplinary team meetings, and attended the Pharmacist’s Oncology morning clinic. During my Technical Services summer placement, I dispensed and observed the production of cytotoxic agents and monoclonal antibodies. This placement developed my understanding of the significance of Quality Assurance (QA) within Technical Services. It is important to have knowledge of the fundamental concepts, and understand the work flow within a hospital and how the pharmacy team operates.

How did you make the most of your summer placements?
A summer placement is an opportunity to put your learning from University into practice. It is a chance to not only consolidate your learning, but also identify key learning points and reflect upon your existing knowledge. A summer placement should be perceived as an occasion to confirm your interest in this sector of Pharmacy and if it is right for you. I believe it was important to always seek learning opportunities and gain a greater understanding of the many roles a Pharmacist can acquire. In addition I spoke to the Pre-Registration Trainee Pharmacists at the time, in order to develop an understanding of the daily duties and expectations of the year. However this is also a chance to sample a sector of Pharmacy in preparation for your Pre-Registration year. My final piece of advice is to aim to make every experience a learning opportunity. I wish you the very best of luck in your future career!

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society have several resources to help you develop your career in Pharmacy, take a look at them here.

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