RPS member Morenike Adeleke has just completed her pre reg year, check out her fantastic advice to anyone just starting out.
I did my degree at Medway School of Pharmacy and completed my pre-reg year with Delmergate Ltd, a small independent chain of pharmacies in Kent. I actually lived out for the year as I’m based in London but the branch was located in Herne Bay. I was nervous about living out, since it was a very rural area and I didn’t know anyone. I did miss home a lot but I was able to go home at the weekends so it wasn’t all bad.
My tutor gave me a lot of freedom to assist her in doing services, and she also gave me a lot of time on the counter. This greatly boosted my confidence. Whenever the counter assistant was off, I would cover for her. This meant that I could put my OTC knowledge into practice, and I became very confident with dealing with patient queries.
Some key highlights were when I supplied salbutamol inhalers to a school and organising all of that, forging a relationship with the GPs at our neighbouring surgery (and all the subsequent prescription issues I sorted out), seeing how a pharmacist can check a patients INR and dose their warfarin, discussing prescription issues with hospital consultants (once a patient had got a hospital prescription with someone else’s details on it), seeing how a pharmacist tests a patients’ cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure, the time we thought a box of morphine had been stolen, discussing a patients inhalers after we discovered they were overdosing COPD medication, a safeguarding issue, and an inspection! I was very fortunate to see a lot of things during my pre-reg year, and I built a good rapport with a number of our patients.
I would advise all pre-regs to begin revision from day one. Have a notebook so you can write down everything you have seen, and everything you want to look up. I did this and I found it helpful, because sometimes work gets too busy to look something up, and then you forget what you wanted to research.
Learn absolutely everything there is to know, from how the pharmacist conduct MURs or ward rounds, to how the end of month paperwork is submitted. Lay out a weekly plan for revision and follow it, but leave it flexible to change. Deal with as many queries as possible, and ask as many questions as possible. If you’re not sure, CHECK! There’s no need to feel silly. If a patient asks a question and you’re not sure, just say “I’m sure it’s this but I’m just going to double check to be safe”. Most patients like it when you’re thorough.
Don’t be afraid of patients or talking to them. This is especially important if you’re in community. You’ve got a Masters in Pharmacy, so you know your stuff. Also, don’t get intimidated. I found that some patients thought they could get me to sell things to them because they see a young and inexperienced person. Be confident and stand your ground.
The RPS pre-reg associate membership was very helpful throughout the year. I went to some local practice forums, and I used a lot of the resources, especially the guidance on OTC medicines. I am an RPS member and I also attended the revision weekend with Nadia Bukhari, which I found beneficial.
As for tutors and progress reviews, I would write up evidences throughout the year so that when your review comes up, you aren’t stressing over it. Also, don’t get stressed over it. It’s just a meeting with your tutor to discuss your progress. Keep doing the right things and you will be fine.
It can be daunting at first when you’re fresh out of university and you’re working with staff who know your branch inside out, but you are training to be a pharmacist and you should be respected. At the same time, don’t Lord that fact over them!
Make every task you do related to your study or your practice as a future pharmacist. When dispensing, think of what all the medicines are for, side effects etc. Review the prescription for legal and clinical appropriateness. When doing controlled drugs, review the laws in your head. When you’re on the counter, look at all the medicines, and revise them there and then. Look at the patient leaflets etc. It’s your opportunity to do that.
Find out more about RPS membership for pre-registration trainees.