Learning on the job – a community pharmacy placement

Hi guys! My name’s Anmol and I have just started the 3rd year of my pharmacy degree. Looking back at the summer, I found a great post at a local independent pharmacy where I undertook a full-time role as a Dispenser for 10 weeks.

The first few days consisted of trying to get my head around the daily procedures and getting to know some of the regular patients. More than anything, the fast pace of work was difficult to adjust to at first especially since I had not worked in a pharmacy environment for over a year. Slowly, I began to familiarise myself with regular patients as well as the numerous hourly walk-ins. It was also the first time I began to use Pro-Script, the PMR system used to dispense prescriptions. Soon, I was a part of running the daily routine – arranging the delivery items for the driver, checking off received prescriptions, going to the local surgeries to query prescriptions or collect new ones, dispensing and arranging patients’ dosettes. Breaks in this routine occurred with urgent walk-ins who had suffered from an injury or another serious problem like an accidental overdose.

My ability to successfully give out ‘over-the-counter’ medication was also tested daily. I adapted myself with the most commonly sold medication and noted the common dosages and appropriate patient groups for whom the medication was for. I realised very soon that this was quite important to understand as you didn’t want to end up red-faced in front of a patient. I observed the pharmacist undergoing MURs and counselling patients about lifestyle choices and how to use inhalers. Towards the end of my placement, flu season began and I was fortunate enough to understand who the target patient groups are.

Brand names, dosages, and combinations of medication will eventually come to you naturally because of the times you dispense such common prescriptions. The more complex prescriptions are important as they will allow you to ask questions and learn from the pharmacist themselves. Regardless of your year of study, community pharmacy placements are an excellent way of learning on the job. 

Anmol Ladva.

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