Being an excellent pre-reg tutor is a conscious and sacrificial effort – but one that is well worth it. My reference point has always been the tutor I had during my pre-reg year, Ayebee Ooi, who was exceptionally kind and generous to me.
At the beginning of my pre-reg year, everything was daunting for me. I hadn’t yet spent that much time in a community pharmacy in the UK, but I relished the opportunity to be responsive to the challenges and issues facing patients. She could have curbed my idealistic plans and enthusiasm, but instead settled me in and shared her professional space with me.
I’ve tried to do the same when giving pre-reg training opportunities, and our recruitment process [at Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol] is open and meritocratic. We aim to let potential trainees know if we are the best fit for them, and likewise, if they are the best fit for us.
As those who have come for an interview will attest, we provide detailed constructive feedback on their applications and interview performance. We offer to help them redraft their application in readiness for future opportunities. We have even funded trainees to attend other interviews, in exceptional circumstances.
Involving the whole team
Prospective pre-regs have spent four years in an academic cocoon, and may not find it easy to make the transition to the rigours of working life – especially the long days on one’s feet that community pharmacy demands.
You get to know on the first day that you do not have to prove your knowledge and ability to us – we want our pre-regs to relax and take their time to settle in. We want our pre-regs to know they are not just a spare hand to help row the boat through the choppy waters of daily pharmacy life.
Benefits of being a tutor
Being a tutor has its benefits. I am always inspired by the progress our pre-regs make as they grapple with the role, grow in confidence, and become part of our effort to deliver the best care to our patients.
The challenge to help mould a young colleague's first steps is one I take very seriously. I am always willing to commit to structured learning and other opportunities that enable me to offer better support.
For example, to help our pre-regs to feel comfortable with the idea of taking their exams, I take them to the examination centre beforehand to help them become more familiar with the environment. After their exams, I call and check in with them, because I do not want them to think that whatever they have just experienced defines them. I find this helps to bring perspective, and hope, if needed.
”Seeing dreams fulfilled is precious”
Then there is results day, when I have been known to shed a tear. After all the hard work and dedication, being able to see someone’s dreams fulfilled is so precious. The sweat, tears and laughter we share on our journey forges a bond that compels us to help the next pre-reg.
Take Jee Nie, our trainee pharmacist who was a finalist in the Pre-registration Graduate of the Year category at the C+D Awards 2017. She still comes in to the pharmacy every week on her day off, to check on the progress of our current pre-reg Marisa – who won at the C+D Awards 2018. In turn, Marisa helped redraft the application submitted by Vivian – our newest pre-reg – after they met during the interview process.
One of the most rewarding things for me is that those pre-regs I have had the pleasure of working with are all set up to excel and deliver exceptional patient care. This thought gives me great hope for our profession, as well as personal satisfaction. When we lift our pre-regs, we rise as a profession.
Ade Williams is superintendent at Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol, and was Community Pharmacist of the Year at the C+D Awards 2017