Case study

Pre-registration pharmacist — Fay Solkhon

After completing her pharmacy degree, Fay works as a hospital pre-registration pharmacist. Find out more about her varied workload and the benefits and challenges of being in the pre-registration year

What degree did you study?

I studied for a Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree at the University of Birmingham and graduated in July 2019.

How did you get your job/onto your course?

All pharmacy students have to apply for jobs via a central system called Oriel. This involves a multiple mini-interview (MMI) and a situational judgement test (SJT). Based upon how well you score in both of these aspects, you're ranked out of all pharmacy students in the country.

There were roughly 1,500 pre-registration vacancies (including hospital, community, GP and industry) when I applied, which I had to rank from highest to lowest priority. Your overall ranking will then determine which vacancy is allocated to you. I was lucky enough to be ranked in the top 5% of the country and therefore gained my first-choice job.

How relevant is your degree?

Extremely relevant - without the degree, you're not eligible to apply for pre-registration vacancies or register as a qualified pharmacist. The knowledge gained in my degree has assisted me massively in the early stages of my career.

What's a typical working day like?

As a hospital pre-registration pharmacist, I'm a rotational member of staff. My rotations include cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, medicines information and dispensary, to name just a few.

When in the clinical rotations, I visit the wards and pre-screen drug charts for the pharmacist. If there are interventions to be made, I can speak with the doctors to resolve these issues.

In the dispensary, I dispense in-patient, out-patient and discharge prescriptions, and provide counselling to patients. The vast amount of rotations allows me to build clinical knowledge and develop professional behaviours.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I particular like the vast array of clinical rotations offered to us, gaining knowledge in different areas and putting my degree into practice. When studying it was hard to determine what was useful and what wasn't. Now in the working environment of a hospital, I realise my degree was so valuable.

What are the challenges?

As a pre-registration student, I have to sit an exam at the end of the year-long placement in order to qualify as a pharmacist. For me, the biggest challenge is studying and working at the same time. I'm expected to study when I arrive home from a full working day, which is tiring.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I hope to be a fully qualified pharmacist, first and foremost. The GP pharmacist is a new and emerging role, which sounds extremely interesting and something I would love to be involved in. Running my own clinics and seeing my own patients on a daily basis would suit me.

What advice can you give to others?

  • Study hard and make the most out of your time at university.
  • During your pre-registration year, try and start revision early, e.g. completing a calculation paper each week.
  • Ask as many questions as you can at every opportunity - it's the only way you'll learn.
  • Practise interview techniques as much as possible - your performance at interview will determine how far you go in your job.

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