Since leaving university, I feel as though I’ve been in a never-ending whirlwind. I travelled more of SE Asia, graduated from the University of Manchester, left my UK home, said goodbye to all my friends, moved myself down to Nottingham and became a real-life adult (sort of). So what brings an Irish girl living comfortably in Manchester all the way down to a place she’d never really been before? An amazing pre-reg opportunity of course - what else!
Finding this pre-reg placement was a combination of my proactive attitude towards going after what I want and some good old Irish luck. I had three requirements for my ‘perfect pre-reg’: I wanted to downscale on the size of the city I lived in; I wanted to work in community pharmacy in a group of about 10-25 stores - I come from a family business of 17 community pharmacies back home in Ireland and want to end up there eventually, so getting experience in a similar environment seemed only logical; and I wanted Buttercups to be the training provider - I liked their MCA course and figured the pre-reg programme would be even better.
To find placements that met my requirements, I used a combination of online applications and combing through emails my pharmacy school had sent about pre-reg placements over the course of two years (that one took a while). This joint placement wasn’t actually advertised, I applied for a run-of-the-mill position. But after lots of email correspondence with the managing directors of both companies who happened to be friends, I landed myself the very first joint placement with Evans Pharmacy and Buttercups Training Ltd. It works out great. I spend two days of the week in the office (with my own desk!!) at Buttercups Training Head Office and three days a week (with alternate Saturdays) at an Evans Pharmacy. The week goes by so quickly because I’m never in one place for too long.
I’m sure lots of you are wondering what an education and training pharmacist is. I thought the exact same thing before starting here (and for some time after, if I’m being honest). I work with the professional development team here at Buttercups who, as well as other things, create and deliver pre-reg training. These guys do a whole bunch of stuff from writing materials and delivering study days, to being a point of contact for their trainees. Material writing needs a hell of a lot of time to make sure content is written well, mapped to the assessment framework, backed up by reliable evidence and presented in a user-friendly way. They work so hard and truly care about what happens to their trainees. Anyone have that one teacher in school that was actually invested in you doing well and cared about you? Every one of the tutors here is like that, it’s amazing.
So where do I fit in? I have the opportunity to do a lot really, and I’m always encouraged to contribute ideas about how I can shape my own training. Throughout my placement I’ve reviewed, edited and updated existing materials; written some new materials for the pre-reg and new Level 3 pharmacy technician course; helped out with the development of a vacation placement programme; and I’ve got a few outings to pre-reg days at universities planned. Teaching was always a bit of a dream of mine and I get some experience in that when I help to facilitate study days. It’s kind of strange because the trainees are at the same level as me. But it’s not about me knowing more than them (because I don’t), it’s about getting experience in the processes and methods of teaching. I’ve also done some tutor sessions with staff here at Buttercups and am planning more with staff on the dispensing assistant course at my pharmacy.
Speak of the devil, the pharmacy side of things is going great too - I’m getting so much experience! My tutor is great and encourages me to learn on the job as much as I can. This mainly consists of me asking loads of questions and looking things up all the time which he’s all for, thank goodness. I get to do private vaccinations too which is great experience, but is also preparing me for those one-to-one interactions in the consultation room with patients, for things like confidential conversations, MURs and NMS. And in February my tutor is organising for me to go and get some experience with an independent prescriber and a GP pharmacist which I’m excited about.
This experience has really helped me develop as a well-rounded pre-registration pharmacist. My appraisals have gone well and working between the two sectors has allowed me to sign off nearly 75% of my performance standards by the 26-week appraisal. I would encourage everyone to broaden their search for pre-reg placements. Have a look and see what’s out there. Because while it’s safe to stick to what you know, you’ll learn so much more by challenging yourself and pushing your limits!
Oh! I also write a blog about my weird and wonderful placement if any of you are further intrigued. You can find it on pre-regjournal.blogspot.com
This article was written by Jeananne Mulligan