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I have been well and truly swept off my feet...

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I managed to organise a week’s work experience in a hospital pharmacy. I have worked in a community pharmacy for years and have many tales to tell (eg, “can I have some Beecham’s All-In-One for my diarrhoea?”).


On my first day, I started by shadowing a pharmacist in the dispensary doing initial clinical checks on prescriptions to catch any problems before dispensing. I had the chance to become familiar with patients’ drug charts, which I found a bit confusing, but still interesting, and very different to anything in community pharmacy. The drug charts are not standardised across hospitals but a very important feature on all of them is a section for the patient’s allergy status, which must be completed before any dispensing.

A query I handled whilst working in the dispensary was finding out where the maggots were ordered from, which were used for some types of wounds. The hospital dispensary supplies medicines to many different outpatient units like mental health units and GUM clinics, which all require transport and lots of organisation.


I was extremely surprised to have been given a 20-minute break in the morning and in the afternoon because I definitely don’t get these in a community pharmacy. Another difference I experienced is that the hospital feels more relaxed and less pressured and everyone gets on well. After my lunch hour, I worked in the stores section of the department. Many of the drugs were the same as those in community pharmacy except there were more injections.


Oh, by the way, I am definitely going to buy a purple pen because all the pharmacists in this hospital write in purple. For now, I am sold on hospital pharmacy and it’s only been one day. But, to be honest, there is also the salary issue to think about...

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