My summer placement experience at Barts Health NHS Trust
Amita Aggarwal spent a month completing a summer placement at Barts Health NHS Trust, London. Here she describes her experience and what she has learnt
After coming to the end of my third year of study, I was keen to put my knowledge into practice during my summer placement at The Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust. I was excited that the placement would be split over different departments so that I would have a diverse range of experience in many clinical specialties. The rotations included paediatrics, renal, trauma, acute care, digestive disorders and surgery. I also had the opportunity to work in the dispensary during the afternoons for my first two weeks. I was looking forward to the variety of wards I would get to experience as an addition to those I had encountered during my course.
On the ward, the pharmacist showed me the layout of the drug charts and the different sections: venous thromboembolism prophylaxis, drug allergies and types of reaction, drug histories, “current” medicines and “as required” medicines. I soon learnt the importance of calculating patients’ creatinine clearance (and how quickly pharmacists can calculate this) when ensuring optimal doses for patients with renal failure using ‘The renal drug handbook’ as guidance.
I attended a paediatric ward round where I saw how important the pharmacists were within the multidisciplinary team and how they worked together to decide on the best care for the patient.
I worked with the preregistration trainees to carry out drug histories. We did this by asking the patients, looking at recent discharge summaries or telephoning their GPs. I also got the opportunity to see how TTA (to take away) prescriptions were written and what was checked. We had to count the patient’s own medicines to ensure they had two weeks’ supply and, if not, a request would be given to the dispensary.
One of the highlights from my placement was when I saw a nurse with a bucket of leeches approach us to ask if we could order some more. I did not realise that leeches could be prescribed or that they were stocked downstairs in the dispensary.
The inpatient dispensary was mainly run by technicians because the pharmacists have already screened the drug charts before sending down the requests. I improved my dispensing skills and took this opportunity to familiarise myself with the brand names of some generic medicines that I commonly came across on the wards.
I presented a patient profile at the end of the placement to all the summer placement students, trainees and the senior pharmacist. I chose a case on an elderly woman who had just undergone hip surgery. What I found most interesting was how dabigatran, a relatively new anticoagulant, was now regularly being prescribed for patients to be discharged home. As a future pharmacist I am excited by the potential of new medicines over the next few years.
The placement ended with the trainees’ leaving event, which was a great way to catch up with the other summer placement students and pharmacists. I cannot believe how quickly the placement went by and that it was already time to say goodbye to the people I had met over the past month. The pharmacists and trainees on the wards were so kind and helpful and I have learnt a great deal. I am sure it will stand me in good stead for my preregistration year and beyond.
Amita Aggarwal is a fourth-year pharmacy student at King’s College London
Citation: Tomorrow's Pharmacist URI: 11125168
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