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How can you be the tutor your pre-reg trainee really needs?

"The challenge to help mould a young colleague's first steps is one I take very seriously"

Having a pre-registration trainee in your team is an opportunity to teach someone else – while gaining a new perspective on your own work, says Ade Williams

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

It really takes the whole pharmacy team to create an environment where a pre-reg can flourish. My team at Bedminster Pharmacy is exceptional at welcoming and looking after our new members.

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

Register for C+D's free careers events this September

Getting your foot on the career ladder can be a daunting prospect for pre-registration and newly qualified pharmacists. That’s why C+D – in association with Boots – has created two careers events, in London and Bradford, to give new pharmacists a valuable insight into the range of options out there.  

We’ve assembled a diverse array of speakers across the spectrum of pharmacy sectors – from community pharmacies and hospitals, to GP practices and academia.  

Each speaker will be sharing their unique experience and advice both on stage and with attendees while networking over complimentary food and drinks. 

Career options for pharmacy


locum norfolk, Locum pharmacist

best comment for a while. did exactly the same thing with my pre reg a while back and they  made arrangements to leave ... game is well and truely up. My advice, anyone under 35 retrain immediately or upskill in the trade sector, will take some time but worth it. my plaster is on 300 a day for seven hours. who is the mug? best of luck

Benjamin DeCostas, Administration & Support

A good tutor will be honest with their student and prepare them for the real world.

This means telling them about their job prospects, how the regulator is behaving, and emploring them to join the PDA.

Also, telling them about how the big multiples actually treat their staff would be great and potentially allow the student to avoid the biggest mistake of their life.

Finally, they should make sure that the student reads all the online forums about the profession, and uses that information to think carefully about their future.

The number one rule should always be "there's more to life than pharmacy", so if you hate it, find something else.


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