SO, a bit about me. I recently completed my pre-registration training in a hospital pharmacy and can now officially remove the ‘pre-registration’ part from my job title! This blog highlights some hot topics from my pre-registration year and I hope that some of my experiences and tips may help people who are embarking on the same journey.
Evidences: Preparing for practice!
Firstly, the biggest challenge I faced during my year was balancing work with study. Developing pieces of evidence to show that I could consistently meet the 76 (GPhC performance standards was time-consuming and quite overwhelming at first. What you sometimes forget is that the pre-registration year is preparing you for practice as a qualified pharmacist, not just for the exam, so these standards provide some guidance for this.
Take and create opportunities!
As a pre-reg trainee, you have to make the most of opportunities that come your way, but you should try to create new opportunities as well. The best way I can demonstrate this is that I had limited dedicated educational sessions early on in my pre-registration year so I decided to deliver some teaching sessions to the department myself. These sessions were nifty refreshers for me, they developed my presentation skills and clearly benefited the department.
I also recommend trainees to get involved in roles and activities outside of your role at your training base. I worked with HEKSS (Health Education Kent, Surrey and Sussex) as a trainee representative for the Kent cohort of hospital pre-registration pharmacists. This involved raising issues regarding local and regional training, as well as suggesting improvements directly to the HEKSS team. It was great to see our ideas being implemented!
Making your mark
When you’re straight out of university, you have a fresh pair of eyes and have an idea of what best practice is. It can be difficult for trainees to raise concerns or make suggestions to improve local practice. I found it best to get some evidence for your concerns, such as a new guideline or piece of legislation and then make sure you raise it via the correct methods. It’s a great feeling if you’re successful in changing local practice.
Be sensible with the time you have off before the exam. Two weeks were sufficient for me. I didn’t want to be learning much more new information, but instead, recap and refresh my memory. The more you prepare across the year, the easier it is to revise and remember key pieces of information later down the line. You need to accept the fact that you won’t know everything, so be rational in choosing the topics and the depth that you wish to revise.
The exam itself is getting very clinical and it’s testing your higher decision-making abilities more than just your fact-recalling ability. In light of the changes to the 2016 papers, I did say to my tutor before my exam that I felt my exam would test these elements. With this in mind, I didn’t use any papers more than a year old. Indeed, this year’s paper was quite different, to which many individuals have already commented on and it’s good to see a transparent response from the GPhC.
It can be easy to forget to have some fun during the pre-registration year. Make sure you socialise with the team, plan a few breaks across the year and don’t take all your annual leave just before the exam. Even conferences offer a light break from your training base yet you can still learn a bit. Remember, when applying for roles towards the end of the pre-registration year, you need to show that you’re not all work, work, work.
I hope some of these tips are useful and I wish the 2015/16 cohort all the best with the rest of your year!
Stephen Prestwich is a hospital pharmacist with an interest in education & training