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Preregistration training

Jumping the final hurdle — the 39-week appraisal

Kathryn Davison and Talitha Orlandi explain how you can use your final appraisal to work on your weaknesses and reflect on your future career

The 39-week appraisal is the last significant point of reference for you and your tutor to evaluate your progress. Your registration assessment entry paperwork is often completed around the same time as your appraisal, so it is prudent to consider both the performance standards you have accomplished and your preparedness to enter the registration assessment.

You should now be confident in dealing with patient and prescriber queries, be able to handle complex clinical issues with little or no assistance and have the tenacity to delegate work to colleagues where and when appropriate.

If you find yourself unable to meet the necessary number of performance standards, “catching up” at this late stage in the year is unlikely. In this event, entry to the registration assessment should be delayed and, if possible, training should be extended.

It is common for trainees to be focused on nothing but the registration assessment. This is understandable, but in only a few months’ time you will be working as a responsible pharmacist and it is important to remember this as you approach your final appraisal. Consider in advance what further advice and guidance you can gather from your tutor. What are their recommendations for you over the remaining weeks?  How do you compare with other successful trainees they may have tutored? Do they think you are ready to enter practice as a pharmacist?

From a tutor’s perspective

I always feel proud of my trainees as we enter the 39-week appraisal. At this stage it is comforting to look back and reflect on exactly how much the trainee has achieved over the last nine months. My trainees this year both had little experience of pharmacy practice in the UK and yet have made the progression from student to pharmacist with ease.

I find it useful to not only offer feedback to my trainee on what they  should focus on over the coming weeks, but also to ask them to give feedback on how they think their preregistration year has progressed, and whether they feel ready to take the registration assessment and enter practice. This creates the opportunity to establish some final objectives, allowing the trainee to guide what the end of their training year will entail. Self-reflection works particularly well at the 39-week appraisal because the trainee has a more realistic perspective of what their future career holds and how prepared they are to enter it. It is also beneficial for me as the tutor to receive personal feedback on my mentoring skills, to support my professional development.

My advice to trainees at this appraisal is always the same — do not become complacent. You may have progressed well over the last nine months but there are still three months and a challenging assessment ahead of you before you register as a pharmacist. Now is the time to dig deep and concentrate on what lies ahead because the finish line is in sight.

From a trainee’s perspective

For the 39-week appraisal, I am feeling confident because I have acted on the constructive criticism given previously and I think that I am almost prepared to step into the shoes of the pharmacist. I believe I have made huge progress since the start of my preregistration year and my role now involves delegating tasks and handling clinical and patient queries.
This appraisal will give a clear indication of my position on the road from trainee to pharmacist. It also signifies that my time as a trainee is coming to an end.

I think most trainees, including myself, may not feel ready for the registration exam. I know I feel lost and stressed at times, when I consider the magnitude of what I need to remember for the assessment. My tutor tells me this is normal and not to despair, because apparently I know more than I think I do.

Despite my nerves, I have found that when I revise and test myself with sample questions, I am surprised at my knowledge. I am continually learning through practice, whether it be dealing with patient queries, looking in the British National Formulary for interactions or taking dispensing classes within my role at the university.

Registration assessment aside, I plan to take on board everything my tutor tells me at this appraisal. These may be the last words of wisdom I hear before I enter the pharmacy workforce as a registered pharmacist.

Talitha Orlandi is a preregistration trainee and Kathryn Davison, MRPharmS, is a preregistration tutor.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11138334

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