Posted by: Sara Valente6 DEC 2012
When I first heard that the pharmacy degree was going to change to five years at university, I thought, ‘phew! Glad I don’t have to spend another year paying university fees,’ and I thought it was mostly about securing money for teaching pharmacy and building up the profession’s reputation. But actually, as pharmacy students secure their pre-reg placements this year, I realise that there is going to be an incredible diversity between the level of teaching and experience that we will each receive and there is a slight risk of inequality amongst newly qualified pharmacists.
At the end of our pre-registration year, we will all take the same qualifying exam yet our level of experience may be varied. For example, student A may have spent the entire year coping with the pressure of an extremely busy community pharmacy and difficult customers whilst student B may have been in a quieter pharmacy for the year speaking with fewer patients. Not to mention the differences between hospital and community pharmacy pre-reg placements. With this in mind, I almost wish I could have been part of the 5-year pharmacy degree because it could offer placements in more than one setting and a guarantee of more diverse experiences. It would be better for students because they can be more confident in their knowledge and practice once they leave university.
The pre-reg year is the best time for students to be exposed to the types of difficult situations that can arise in pharmacy and learn to deal with them, which can only be learned through experience. The ultimate goal is to pass the pre-reg exam but I think we need to make sure that we get the most out of our pre-reg year as possible so that we can be confident of our abilities after we qualify.