At the time I’m writing this, I have just completed my first two weeks of work as a pre-registration pharmacist. I’m getting to know some of the regular patients, I’ve spent some time getting familiar with the way things are done here, and I love my team. They’re a great bunch – ever so supportive with my incessant questions and somehow keeping a constant supply of chocolate available for the pharmacy staff.
They clearly know that feeding me sugar is the way to my heart.
Pre-registration in the UK is essentially like a residency for pharmacists – at least that’s what I’ve been telling people when I mention pre-reg and I see question marks all over their faces. In essence, it’s an opportunity to be let loose on real life patients, and to apply all that knowledge from university so that their medicines are well-managed (and don’t kill them).
On completion of the MPharm degree, Pharmacy graduates are required to undertake a year of training in an “approved training site”. This needs to include time in a patient-facing role, eg. community pharmacy (like your local Boots branch), hospital pharmacy or working as a pharmacist in a GP surgery. The pre-reg placement can also include a non-patient facing component, eg. working at a pharmaceutical company.
Personally, I’m doing a bit of both for my pre-registration year – 6 months in a community pharmacy and 6 months at a pharmaceutical company. Maybe I’ll write some blog posts on this later on. Let me know if this is something you’d like to read about (or not).
Nevertheless, starting pre-reg can be daunting. It’s a whole new environment where expectations are that much higher, and that nosedive into full-time work itself can be a huge change. Here are a few things I’ve realised in my first two weeks of working as a pre-registration pharmacist.
I prioritise comfort.
When you work in Pharmacy, being on your feet for eight hours a day is nothing out of the ordinary. Sometimes, the only sit-down breaks I get are during lunch when the pharmacy is closed (and even then, not many pharmacies are lucky enough to have this).
I do NOT sneak toilet breaks just to have a little sit down. I also definitely do NOT get extremely happy if I get to sit down in the consultation room for a tête-à-tête with a patient, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Just to be clear, I do NOT do these things.
I kid, it’s really not that bad – I find myself choosing to stay on my feet sometimes, even when I’ve been offered a stool. But comfortable shoes have been my saviour. Get yourself some of those memory foam things that look like flotation devices for your feet, or good insoles that give your arches decent support. My Skechers are my babies.
Colourful characters are everywhere.
No matter where you go in life, you’ll most likely meet certain individuals who just seem to clash with you in every way possible, even when you’ve done your best to cooperate and work around them. I’ve found that the best way to handle this is to remain professional and polite, as would be expected of any pre-registration or qualified pharmacist. It’s no use allowing yourself to be provoked into behaviour you may regret later on. They don’t deserve to hold that kind of power over you – nobody does. If anything, they’ll help you become more resilient and a better healthcare professional, so thank them for it.
Drivers in London at rush hour are arses.
Arses who pull out in front of you when they shouldn’t, arses who undertake you (and don’t get anywhere by doing it), arses who will drive into oncoming traffic on a single carriageway just to overtake you – you name it. Arses left, right and centre. I learned to drive outside London where people seem to have all the time in the world, so this was very much a shock to my system. But I tell myself – if I can drive in this, I can drive in anything.
On a side note, I’ve started a thing where on a daily basis, I write down something I’ve done that day that I feel proud of. “Driving home from the train station in rush hour” has made it into that little journal pretty frequently, and I refuse to be ashamed of it.
Sleep is important.
I don’t tend to have trouble falling asleep most nights, which annoys my insomniac partner to no end. I find that a good sleep routine is the key to feeling refreshed when I have to be up early the next morning. Functioning on little sleep is difficult, especially when starting in a new role where there is so much to learn and process every day as a new pre-registration pharmacist. An extra hour of good sleep at night may be the difference between having a productive study session and re-reading every sentence six times in a row.
The job is what you make of it.
Pharmacists can often be branded as pill-counters and the dispensary rat who sticks labels on boxes, which is incredibly unjust given the amount of knowledge they have. This is something I feel very passionately about and have discussed in my book, “Let Sleeping Pharmacists Lie“. That being said, I believe that a lot of it is up to the pharmacist themselves. The outlook you choose to have on your work can have a significant impact on how you do it, and of course – the quality of care that your patients receive.
You can choose to be a pharmacist who processes prescription after prescription without so much as a second glance or a second thought. You can also choose to be a pharmacist who analyses everything with a clinical mindset, and always questions whether the patient is receiving the best medication regimen for them, even if it takes extra effort to make a few queries. No matter what you do for a living, there is always a choice.
Do you work full-time? How do you cope and do you have any tips? Put them in the comments below – I love hearing from you! Until next time.
Disclaimer: All images used in this post were oobtained from Pixabay and edited on Canva for thenellybean.