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Making the most out of your preregistration year: A hospital trainee’s thoughts

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Hospital pharmacy signage

Source: Craig Holmes Premium / Alamy Stock Photo

Like many of you, I started my preregistration year with a glow (and tan!) from the summer and graduation. Four years of hard work had finally culminated in this final year of training. I still remember my first day at Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC), trying not to grin too excitedly for my access card photo in a new shirt and chinos I had bought as part of my ‘adult’ wardrobe.

Training at the Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) trust was structured in a way that allowed for a mixture of ward based work, dispensary shifts and exposure to various services like medicines information (MI), aseptic and non-aseptic compounding. I was exposed to a wide range of specialty areas such as psychiatry, trauma and neurology to name a few.

My experience

Throughout the year, my ward based work consisted of collaborating with other healthcare professionals to make clinical interventions and ensuring appropriate medicine supply. My time in MI involved gathering and presenting information which helped me develop my writing skills.

One of the highlights of my year was participating in the Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) antimicrobial audit, where I worked with pharmacy staff and other members of the multidisciplinary team to collect antimicrobial prescribing data within the trust.

A few other experiences worth mentioning were the Simulation Suite exercise, where multidisciplinary team members were placed in simulated clinical scenarios to treat patients; and the Prescribing Skills Assessment involving all pre-registration trainees in the East Midlands region. These experiences have helped me develop an appreciation for the increasingly clinically focussed direction of the profession.

While that wide-eyed optimism has now faded slightly it has been replaced with experience and insights, both positive and negative, to share with current pre-registration trainees.

Making the most out of your year

Push yourself but manage expectations

This is your first taste of the real world. For many of you, it will be the first time juggling a full time job, writing evidence, preparing for the exam and having your social pursuits on top of that. Push yourself to learn and get involved as much as possible but make sure to manage expectations so as to not overwhelm yourself. There is nothing wrong with telling your tutor you may struggle to complete that evidence from last week as long as you work towards keeping on top of all your commitments in a timely manner. Your tutor wants you to succeed so bring up anything and everything to help both of you improve. A good way to do this is to focus on goals, performance standards or learning objectives to achieve and plan out your progress with your tutor. This will help you keep on top of both training requirements and the exam.

Get involved

Many of the experiences I have had this year were as a result of asking to be involved. For example, asking to participate in the department’s governance meetings which resulted in the implementation of safety policies for female staff working out-of-hours. Look out for opportunities and ask nicely. The worst that can happen is that they say no. These opportunities allow you to be a part of something that will enhance your learning and give you that extra something to talk about during your post-registration job interview.

Be open

Some people live and breathe hospital pharmacy. At the end of your preregistration training, if it is not for you, it is important to be open and honest. The best thing about our degree is the many career opportunities we have; do not ignore all the potential out there. Some people find themselves in alternative careers such as law, publishing, academia, journalism, marketing, the list goes on. Be open to the fact that there might be something else out there for you if hospital pharmacy is not your cup of tea.

Looking back, although there were countless positives from the year, I experienced a few struggles as well. For example, having to reattempt dispensing and checking validations due to multiple errors or disagreeing with certain inefficiencies only to be told “to follow the procedure”. Although obstacles such as these may feel like failure, every trainee should bear in mind that these lessons are necessary in order to evolve and succeed; and like everything else, there will be good and bad days. If you are feeling frustrated, be sure to speak up! 

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