By Joshua Miller, Clinical Pharmacist, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
I thought I would reflect upon my experiences as a hospital-based pre-registration pharmacist. If you are a current pre-registration student or are due to start in August I am going to (try to!) share some of my experiences, hints, tips and things I wish I knew at the time.
A little background – I completed my pre-registration year in a very large teaching hospital, spending six months of my time in the paediatric hospital and the remainder of the year rotating through specialities within the adult hospital. The site was so large that it was easy to feel lost or left behind, but something which I learned towards the end of my training year was that it was exactly that, MY training year. Make sure you see what you have to see, but also make time for things you want to see.
My tutor at the time always said, pre-reg is the time where you can have some time to see what you want to do without worrying about service provision. I chose to make time to see surgery being performed, spend time in anaesthetics, take part in ward rounds, and sit in on nurse clinics. You need to make sure that you get everything you want to out of those 52 weeks because they go by quicker than you would think.
Ask questions! We all learn in different styles but the ultimate learning tool is asking questions. There is nothing more awkward than a silent student. Trust me when I say that it is awkward on both sides (knowing now what it is like to be the pharmacist on the other side). Make conversation with your supervisor, ask questions (even if they are trivial or you think you know the answer).
Use the time to showcase your knowledge as well as expand on it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “this is what we do because the X says so”. Think beyond the status quo and start to ask yourself why do we do this? That is when you really begin to learn.
Stay on track and keep an eye on your time. Once Christmas hits you should be gearing up to study for the exam and in full revision mode once Easter has passed. Make sure you try and plan your year, and although I have said to be selfish and see as much as you can see, b think – is this going to be relevant to the exam? Can you apply that learning and is this justifiable? Look at the exam specification throughout the year and try and link aspects with experiences you have seen on the wards. Utilise colleagues and mentors, if you are looking for a particular case presentation, disease or medicine then don’t be afraid to ask or email around.
At the start of the year, one aspect I struggled with was recognising professional limits. We all learn at different paces and for me, I was eager to get involved. Remember until you have that registration number you are working under supervision. Be aware that different pharmacists may be more dynamic with how they allow you to work and by that I mean the freedom they give you. Try not to get frustrated by those who want to go over things in detail – it’s their registration on the line too.
Finally, I would say, make time for friends and family. It is a full year, and a shock going from undergraduate to full time working. Ensure you have a good support network within and outwith work and most importantly enjoy yourself – you’ve worked this hard!