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Shadowing a resident on-call pharmacist in hospital

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I had the opportunity to shadow an on-call resident pharmacist about 4 months into my pre-reg year. The shift began in the dispensary where we cleared any outstanding work with dispensary staff members to minimise the amount of work the on-call pharmacist would have to do when alone.

Soon before the dispensary staff left the on-call pharmacist and I started to lock up the department. Then it was time to wait for the bleeps on the pager to come in! There was a steady stream of work to do, ranging from checking where items were to medicines information enquiries. I saw how the pharmacist had to prioritise the work based on clinical need.

An example of a supply request was for a neonatal preparation where the dose needed to be 1.6mg from a dosage form of 100mg/ml. Clearly this would be very difficult to measure accurately and would have a high risk for error. The pharmacist therefore had to contact some specialists for their advice on how to administer this drug and eventually a solution was provided by a nearby children’s hospital that supplied a formulation which would be much easier to measure accurately.

The pharmacist also received a request for a product to be made aseptically which required us to leave the department and go to the aseptic unit and get gowned up. The pharmacist would usually be alone when preparing aseptic products. Therefore, if the bleep goes off the pharmacist has to leave the isolator to answer the bleep and speak to the enquirer. However, I was able to assist the on-call pharmacist by answering the bleep and taking the details of the calls explaining that the pharmacist would contact them when she had finished preparing the aseptic product.

At the end of the shift in the department I left to go home — however, the pharmacist went back to the resident pharmacist flat for the night so she could be close to the hospital if any further calls came in. I can see how being a resident on-call pharmacist, if it is the right job for you, can really help to develop you as a pharmacist and as a person.

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