By Joseph Thomson, member of the RPS Early Careers Pharmacist Advisory Group
Foundation training is terrifying, but then again everyone is terrified. We are bound together in our terror. Why wouldn’t you be scared? For me it was the first time I had ever been in a long term job. I was working in hospital, a sector I had little experience in and was was feeling a bit out of my depth coming off a pandemic-fuelled degree. I had barely talked to anyone in person during my Masters year, and now I was going to be talking to strangers and giving advice to patients!
You’ll be glad to hear in the end that I was OK. I’d been prepared, and people don’t expect you to know everything. I think the main thing to realise is that it’s only you that is putting you under so much pressure. You survived the degree, you did more than that, you thrived, so be confident in yourself! I know that it might seem easy to say, but we all struggle with the confidence stuff.
The next thing is time! There really is never enough of it, but you will get into a rhythm. I gave myself a couple weeks to settle in and then thought about what I wanted to do with my time. It is tricky, but you can get into a rhythm of going to work, then studying, then leaving time for you. You must leave some down time for yourself. You need to have time to relax and to ensure that you are happy in yourself. There is no point burning yourself out before the year has even begun.
Get a mentor
I began my foundation year journey a little nervous, but I ensured that I was always on time and left when I was entitled to. I didn’t stress about the big things. Although a year will fly by, it also turns out that a year is quite a long time you’ll be able to revise.
I’ve found people are always willing to help, so don’t be afraid to ask. Try your educational supervisor, other pharmacists where you work, or even other trainees. And also try the resources available from RPS. I got myself a mentor through the mentoring scheme as soon as possible and they were amazing! They helped keep me calm about my foundation training year and discussed with me opportunities I could consider about my future career.
I also threw myself into the RPS website and soon discovered that all the emails they had been sending me had some useful links on them. I used all the eBooks in the RPS library too, whether that be the renal drug handbook, or the pharmacy calculation books. Scrolling through their emails, I discovered that one had an opportunity to get more directly involved with the RPS… and I jumped at the chance.
Early Careers Advisory Group
I joined the RPS Early Careers Pharmacy Advisory Group, have sat on several of the meetings so far and will be staying in the group for the foreseeable future. It has been amazing for me, because I get to consider and react to the problems affecting pharmacists. Also, I get to listen to all these amazing people who are early on in their careers and be inspired by them. But the most important thing that I have gotten from the group is knowing that everyone sometimes feels they are out of their depth. I wish I’d known that earlier in my foundation training year! Nobody expects you to know everything, even when you’re fully qualified and understanding that made me feel so much better throughout my foundation training.
So… I hope you learnt a bit from Foundation Training 101. My experience of being a foundation trainee pharmacist was brilliant and scary all at the same time, and it will be for you too. Grab every opportunity that you get, whether that be at the local level with your training site or at the national level – just go for it!
Visit our RPS Early Careers Pharmacist Advisory Group page to hear more from other group members.