Diary of a pre-reg pharmacist: Week 1



SO I’ve already finished a week as a community pre reg pharmacist and let’s just say I that I like to keep a positive mind-set to a lot of things…

To be honest with you, the first few days were awful! I HAD NO IDEA OF WHAT I WAS DOING!

Is it me, or does all the clinical knowledge, even the most basic over the counter (OTC) medications AND common sense decide to leave your mind as you face REAL patients in public? No? I am sure I’m alone in feeling this way….

As I walked sheepishly towards the dispensary on the first day, I was welcomed with “Our pre reg is here!” by the pharmacy technician and my pre reg tutor grinning from ear to ear. All I could do is smile back; I must have looked crazy because I was trying very hard to mask my nerves and fear.

After receiving a very warm welcome from all the staff, I was given a mini tour of the pharmacy building. After that, my tutor spoke for approximately an hour giving me an introduction to the pre-reg programme.

There are A LOT of standard operating procedures (SOPs) reading and online modules that I’m meant to get done in the next few weeks, great (!)

“Please don’t underestimate this year, this is going to be a difficult year,” my tutor warns me. I understand this because, during the pre-reg year I will be expected to work full-time whilst studying and preparing myself for the dreaded pre-reg exam next summer. This is an act that I have completely avoided during my Uni days so I know I will have to quickly adjust to this new routine.

Once my tutor rounded up his presentation, he set up my till code and told me to start serving customers for the first few weeks.

I wasn’t too excited about being at the tills; shouldn’t I be at the dispensary? How about if they ask my something? What do I say? I’ve forgotten all my over the counter medication knowledge 🙁.

Since I didn’t know the layout of the over the counter (OTC) drugs, it was such a pain searching for medicines.  I literally spent ages trying to look for medication on the shelves that were looking straight at me! The counter assistants were amazing! If it wasn’t for them being with me at tills I would have made so many illegal sales.

One particular situation was with a patient buying ibuprofen capsules for pain, I completely forgot to ask if he was asthmatic. AND HE WAS! The ibuprofen could have made his asthma worse! Although it was bad, I couldn’t stop smiling, I think it was to cover up the pain and embarrassment I was causing to myself.

Another thing that I wasn’t used to was patients asking for specific brands of medication because I’m used to hearing the actual drug name, especially during my studies in Uni. I mean, I know the everyday brands like Nurofen and Piriton, but Anbesol? Golden Eye Ointment? Syndol? What is that? (I really should have gone over my OTC guide-book since first year).

Surprisingly the week went pretty fast and my tutor and I had a mini review of the week and he asked me how I felt the week went …

Ermmmm, Are you serious? Do you actually want me to answer that? I think terrible is an understatement. I mean, no one died so I guess that’s a start 🙂. But my tutor did say that he liked my positive spirit, my eagerness to contribute and be part of the pharmacy team which I believe are good traits to have as a trainee pharmacist.

I quickly realised how much OTC knowledge I had forgotten, so I understood why my tutor wanted me to stay on the tills to get more familiar with the OTC medications. I couldn’t even remember the basics but my tutor quickly ensured me that this was completely normal and that it’s important to be positive and to make all my mistakes now and learn from them quickly.

Looking back on my week, I can happily say that it was a bit of a disaster! BUT it’s been a huge learning curve. Towards the end of the week, I did feel far more comfortable with my OTC knowledge and creating conversations with patients.

Every day comes with its new challenges and cases, it’s important to be optimistic and LEARN from the many mistakes I’m going to make because there’s going to be loads and that’s ok! Afterall, it’s only been a week! (as long as no one is getting hurt).

Let’s see what week two brings!

Jess is a pre-registration pharmacist based in Essex.

You can read her blog here and follow her on Twitter


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