By Haroon Sohail, Pharmacy student, RPS Intern 2020
I chose a degree in pharmacy because of the broad content it covers, from anatomy and chemistry to pharmacology, as well as pharmacy practice. I enrolled without thinking too much about the job at the end of it, hoping that a job in one of these high street pharmacies is good enough. However, from my first day working in a community pharmacy way back in year one I realised that being a community pharmacist was not the job for me. But what other career choices were available? I knew the decisions made in the next few years would put me on a path for life. But if I wanted to find a job that is right for me, what steps did I have to take to get there? The first problem was that I did not know what careers were available as a pharmacist!
Going by the limited information I had from the first two weeks of university there were only three branches in pharmacy: community, hospital, and industry. I already had a vision of community pharmacy in my mind, and from my two-hour placement in first year spent in a busy hospital dispensary with a short tour around a ward I decided that route was not for me either.
Consequently, I ended up with industry as the only path left. I researched more about it and it seemed a much better option than what I knew about the other two, so I stuck with it. As the year went on, whenever anyone asked me about the field, I wanted to work in I simply said industry as the default answer, without knowing too much about it.
I was fortunate to meet different locum pharmacists who have come from different backgrounds. One example is a hospital pharmacist who is a specialist in mental health. I found out that part of what he does is work in a multi-disciplinary team meeting with consultants and develop a treatment plan for a patient. It was the opposite of what I thought a hospital pharmacist did. Through my two years working there I have spoken to a wide range of pharmacists who have gone on to work in industry, GP practices and many more.
This really opened my eyes to what was available to me and now I have signed up to the RPS mentoring and am looking forward to connecting and speaking with mentors, who are pharmacists with different backgrounds. I know now about the huge number of careers available with an MPharm degree and it has really helped me think about my future.
If you are in the same position as I was, I would recommend speaking to pharmacists who work in different sectors to see what appeals to you most. One of the best ways of doing this is through the RPS mentoring. You can have a skype meeting with someone from anywhere in the country and speak with them one on one. You might be about to apply for a Pre-Reg placement, and they could help make sure you have got a targeted CV and application form.
Although I have not finalised a career choice yet, I am in a far better position now, with an understanding of the different types of careers available for a pharmacist. I have figured out the qualities of a job which I would like to do – clinical, patient focused, bringing about change – and now it is time to find placements to further my experience.