Studying and getting good grades is only half of what your MPharm should be about. You have to have fun, of course, but it’s also vitally important to get some experience in the world of work to give yourself an insight into what roles you like, as well as the ones you are less keen on. To do this during your studies, you will probably have to apply for some summer placements or jobs.
When it comes to applying for placements, what do you need to know?
Read the posting
This sounds so simple, but it will instantly put you ahead of the numerous candidates who fail to do so. If they ask for a CV and cover letter, send a CV and cover letter, if they ask for an application form, send the application form, if they ask for just a CV, guess what you’re going to send them? You got it! Just your CV! The posting will also give you useful information about the role you’re applying for which you can include in your application.
Research the organisation you’re applying to
Google is your friend. Most organisations will have a website, with a page or two about their history and values - this can give you a great insight into what you’re applying for as well as give you some guidance and assistance when it comes to answering application or interview questions.
Proof read and get a second pair of eyes
Make sure there are no silly spelling or grammatical errors in your application, this can be an instant turn off to a beady-eyed employer. Read through your application on numerous instances, sometimes coming back to it after a little bit of time is helpful as you’ll spot things you hadn’t previously.
Getting someone to proof read and sense check your application is incredibly valuable. Your university careers service or specific lecturers you have a good relationship are great for this, but make sure you send it to them in plenty of time, you don’t want it to be rushed.
How do I answer application questions?
I have found the STAR approach to be especially useful. I’ve highlighted this below with a Pharmacy based example.
Situation: briefly give some context about the situation.
I was working in the outpatients department when a patient complained that she had been given the wrong medication.
Task: what was your responsibility in this situation?
I had to calm the patient down and clarify if there was an error in order to rectify it if so.
Action: what did YOU do, focus on you as an individual, especially if it is a team task.
I clarified with the patient whether she had taken the medication, and she hadn’t. I checked the prescription against the label and the PMR and the patient had been given the wrong antibiotic. I explained this to the pharmacist on duty. The error was rectified and recorded for future learning. I explained the error to the patient, apologised and told her the error had been recorded.
Result: what were the outcomes?
The patient was satisfied with the resolution and left satisfied that we had used the error for future learning. I learned about how important it is to do a thorough check of medications before they are given to the patient.
Emphasise your skills
You may not have bags of work experience, but during your Pharmacy degree you will have picked up lots of transferable skills, such as communication, teamwork, analytical skills and problem-solving. You must make your skills obvious to whoever will be reading your application. Make sure you do an amazing job of selling You.inc.