Making the most of your opportunities for a career in community pharmacy!

Sarah murphy 2
Sarah Murphy, University of Central Lancashire, 4th year student

Throughout my time at university, I’ve made sure I stand out to potential employers through my experience within community pharmacy. Here’s a few tips on how you can do the same.

Get some work experience…working in a community pharmacy (paid or voluntary) is the best way to prepare you for your pre-reg and your future career. It will not only make your application stand-out from the crowd to future employers but it will also benefit you during your degree as a lot of what you learn in the classroom can be put into practice – enhancing your understanding! I’ve worked in community pharmacy throughout the length of my degree and it has definitely helped me when it’s come to assessments such as dispensing exams and OSCEs. It’s also a great opportunity to network with members of a pharmacy team, including pre-reg students and pharmacists who may be able to offer you additional support and give you advice.

Get involved…studying pharmacy should not just be about going to university and getting your MPharm. There are many opportunities during that period to enhance your experience. In my second year I was a Student Exchange Officer for my university and in my third year I represented my university as a Student Champion for the RPS. These roles gave me the opportunity to network with MPharm students from other universities, travel abroad during the summer on a student exchange placement, and visit the RPS Headquarters in London! It looks great on your CV for future employers and you never know where those connections you made may take you in the future.

Show your personality…when working in community pharmacy you are going to come across a variety of people. It is important that you are a good listener and communicator, show compassion and be confident in order to gain a patients trust. Your application is the first thing your future employer is going to see, there is plenty of opportunity to demonstrate your personality so bare this in mind as it could be what sets you apart from the rest. There will likely be opportunity to list your hobbies and interests, this is the perfect chance to tell them that you, for example, are part of a society, volunteer for a charity or have a sport that you really enjoy.

Start early…some community pharmacy chains start their application process earlier than others, make sure you know when the online application opens and more importantly when it closes. Also, don’t leave your application to the last minute as most are quite lengthy with several elements to them. There will most likely be a multiple choice questionnaire and some written questions which will be looking for examples of situations you have, for example, had to lead a team. Try to include an example which is not pharmacy based as this shows your personality, be mindful that if you get through to the interview stages you may be asked about the examples you gave so be truthful. Lastly, make sure you are continually stay up to date with pre-registration placements in community pharmacy.

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