Beginning the pre-registration year can be daunting. For many, it can be their first time working in a pharmacy or doing full-time hours, whereas others may be more accustomed to the pharmacy environment after working there on Saturdays or during the summer.
1. Never stop learning
My most important piece of advice for any pre-reg trainee is to take every opportunity you have as a learning opportunity – whether it is dealing with a customer complaint, or dispensing a complex prescription. Your placement is an opportunity, not only to improve your clinical knowledge, but also to gain important skills in management, teamwork and how to be an effective leader.
2. Make use of your tutor
It is important to make the best use of your pre-reg tutor’s knowledge; they have bags of experience and will be able to help with any aspect of pharmacy, from answering your process queries to providing moral support.
It is also important to develop a timeline with your tutor to map out exactly how different areas of the pre-reg syllabus will be covered.
3. Look out for resources
During your pre-reg year, you will be provided with many learning resources, as well as offered various courses by different companies who can support you during your pre-reg journey. It is important to be aware of what resources are available to help you, and make sure you plan time to look through these and identify what will be useful later in the year.
4. Build your network
Networking with other pre-reg students is vital, as different students have different learning styles. You should aso, try to be proactive with your learning; for example, if you are dispensing a prescription for a drug you do not know, write the name of the drug down and then research it later.
5. Learn on the job
During my pre-reg year, every time I was date checking or putting an order away, I would recall one clinical fact about that box or item: amlodipine – swollen ankles, or ramipril – dry cough, for example. This simple technique helped me to absorb more of the BNF, as I was able to make my learning more practical and interactive.
6. Practice makes perfect
Practice your weaknesses early. Many pre-regs find calculations difficult, but these are all about technique, so learn the basic principles and then build from there. Try doing a few calculations every day; for example, during your lunch break. The more practice you do, the more confident you’ll become.
7. Ask relevant questions
Finally, enjoy your pre-reg year, and ask plenty of questions. If you overhear an over-the-counter consultation, think about what product you would recommend, and if it is the right one, ask why. Get feedback from your tutor if you are not sure or if you think you would have done a consultation differently.
Listen to the counter staff for counselling advice, and ask everyone on the pharmacy team questions, as the whole team can be valuable to your learning.
Mital Thakrar is co-director of training provider Team PreReg, and was a finalist in the Community Pharmacist of the Year category at the C+D Awards 2018