Are you a newly registered pharmacist? Read on . . .
Congratulations, you are now a registered pharmacist. Your new role will bring pride, excitement, as well as a few nerves. Altaf Vaiya and Noma Al-Ahmad provide you with tips on how best to prepare yourself for working as a community pharmacist
You become a pharmacist when you got your registration number, but the transition from student to pharmacist started when you became a preregistration trainee. In reality, the preregistration year should have fully prepared you for your future role, with every day bringing you closer to being a pharmacist.
Should I locum or work as an employee?
Whether you want to locum or be a full-time employee really depends on you, your preferences, personal circumstances and your confidence as a pharmacist.
As a locum, you will benefit from the experience of working for different companies and see how they operate. You also have the flexibility to work when and where you want, coupled with a generally good locum rate, and expenses paid for mileage. However, being self-employed means there will be no holiday pay and you will need to organise your diary, which can be stressful.
Community pharmacists need to have business, management and leadership skills
As an employed pharmacist, you will have more stability knowing you have guaranteed work and salary. You will benefit from more support, funded training opportunities, paid holiday and bonuses. Some employers even pay your registration fee.
Our advice is to locum for a few months before committing to a full-time job. This will allow you to gain enough experience to decide where you would like to work. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a job you do not like.
What are employers looking for and how do I get the job I want?
If you think getting your registration number will get you the job you want, then you are mistaken. Because of the financial constraints on pharmacies, businesses are looking more closely at the way they run their pharmacies and how to move forward with the changes in the pharmacy contract to stay ahead of the game.
Employers want to know what assets you will bring to the pharmacy, how you will provide a first-class service to customers, how you will increase prescription figures, whether you will be conducting services, such as medicines use reviews, and how you will meet their business targets.
High calibre pharmacists who are forward-thinking and strive to meet these criteria will get the best jobs. You only have to look in the careers section of the PJ or at PJ Careers to see the huge range of locum agencies you can sign up with.
On the other hand, specialist recruitment agencies can help you look for permanent pharmacy positions. They can also offer you individual advice on the direction you want to take with your career.
Building up your skills
Any work you do is an opportunity to build up your skills. As a pharmacist, you already have the essential skills required of you (remember those performance standards you were signed off on during your preregistration training?).
It is up to you to develop those skills and use them to your advantage to build relationships with patients and healthcare professionals so that you can provide a patient-focused service and advance your career
Before you take on a locum job …
Before you take on any job, find out what computer system the pharmacy uses, how many support staff there are and their responsibilities, the range of professional services offered and if you will be required to provide these services.
It is also wise to ask for a copy of the standard operating procedures. With the responsible pharmacist Regulations, you will need to be aware of a pharmacy’s SOPs. If there are any SOPs that you are not comfortable with, make sure you mention these to the pharmacy manager before you start your job.
Additionally, it may be a good idea to visit the pharmacy and check the environment you will be working in. This will help you make an informed decision.
Remember, it is important to establish the scope of your role and responsibilities and clarify any uncertainties about where your responsibilities lie. Also, make sure you have professional indemnity insurance. Most offer a range of packages depending on the level of cover you need.
Developing good relationships with staff
When you start working, you will need to delegate tasks and make best use of the skill mix available to you. Developing good relationships from the start will make this easier. One of the main hallmarks of a successful pharmacist is reliability.
The manager will expect you to fit in with his or her pharmacy, and staff will be giving him or her feedback. It is best to be adaptable but, at the same time, assertive.
Being confident, polite and respectful is crucial to ensure your team can trust you. Being comfortable in your role will ensure your team is, too. Above all, be professional at all times. If you spend the day on your mobile telephone or sitting down reading the newspaper, you can guarantee that your job would not last long.
What if I make a mistake?
Mistakes usually happen due to over-confidence, carelessness, being disorganised or being burnt out.
Do not worry, you may not realise how prepared you are. Over the course of your preregistration year, you have developed the skills to help you adapt quickly to the environment you will be working in. As long as you never act beyond the scope of your knowledge and skills, you should not go wrong. And remember, even as an experienced pharmacist, do not be afraid to ask for help.
Personal and professional development
You will need to continue to prove over the course of your career that you have maintained your knowledge and competence by completing at least nine continuing professional development entries a year.
During your preregistration year, you should have developed good habits to do this. Plan ahead and create a personal development plan of where you want to be in a few years’ time. If you do not plan, you will not be ready when opportunities come up.
Check if your place of work offers training or CPD opportunities. The Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education offers free CPD opportunities on a vast range of clinical topics for pharmacists in England. For pharmacists in Wales, there is the Welsh Centre of Pharmacy Professional Education and, for pharmacists in Scotland, NHS Education for Scotland (Pharmacy).
As a community pharmacist, you are not only required to be clinically and service focused, but you will have to prove your business, management and leadership skills. Some companies offer management training programmes specifically designed for pharmacists who aspire to this position.
Enjoy your job
You need a healthy work-life balance. Work can sometimes get stressful and it is important to ensure you get sufficient rest so that you do not build up workload pressure and put yourself in stressful situations. If you think the stress is more than you can cope with, then you need to take a step back.
Pharmacist Support is a welfare charity for pharmacists and their families, preregistration trainees and pharmacy students. The charity’s support services include a stress helpline (see below), addiction support, financial assistance, information and signposting, and debt, benefits and employment advice.
Listening Friends offers free listening services to pharmacists suffering from stress. The service provides the opportunity to talk to a pharmacist trained to offer support regarding the particular pressures that apply to the pharmacy profession.
We believe the future for pharmacy is bright and it is up to you to embrace it.
Altaf Vaiya is a community pharmacist at Alpharm Chemist, Leicester. Noma Al-Ahmad is director of ProPharmace
Citation: Tomorrow's Pharmacist URI: 11026518
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