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A PDA member shares their story: A provisionally registered pharmacist’s hopes for the future

In our latest member voice article, Abigail Clarke, a provisionally registered pharmacist and PDA rep shares her pharmacy journey to date; from deciding to study pharmacy to her hopes and aspirations for the future. Find out how Abigail first got involved with the PDA and what advice she has for future pre-regs.

Tue 15th September 2020 The PDA

I first decided to study pharmacy in the middle of my first year of sixth form when I applied for work experience at my local independent pharmacy. After a few weeks of working Saturday mornings, I realised that pharmacy combined both my love of science with my drive for business and passion for becoming a trusted part of the community. As soon as I realised that it was the career for me, I researched the best universities in the country and set my heart on the University of Nottingham.

Throughout the rest of my time at sixth form, I worked really hard to achieve the grades that I needed to secure a place at the University of Nottingham. I started studying there in September 2015. It was exciting being away from home and studying at one of the best universities for pharmacy in the country. Our course was very new and cutting edge and featured a lot of placements in community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy. I also got the opportunity to spend a couple of days in a forensic psychiatric unit, shadowing a pharmacist there.

In between university terms, I was still working back home in a local independent pharmacy but had also applied for summer placements through Boots and Well Pharmacy to gain experience in other locations. I had already decided by this time that hospital pharmacy was not the path for me as I preferred to get to know patients more and follow them through their treatments. After working in four different pharmacy chains, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career with Boots and after a successful 3rd-year summer placement, I was offered a pre-registration job in Nottingham which I was incredibly pleased with.

My pre-registration year was at a busy retail park Boots store on the outskirts of Nottingham and gave me a lot of experience of pharmacy operations as well as over-the-counter queries and services. My eyes were opened to more career opportunities such as management or working in the support office. I made sure that I jumped at every opportunity I was given and managed to arrange to spend time in a wide variety of stores so that I could gain as much experience as possible.

Throughout my pre-reg year, I met a lot of people from a diverse array of backgrounds and gained lots of help and advice from them. One of the key pieces of information I was frequently told was to make sure that you have support from a professional body other than that of the company you are working for so that if ever you did get into trouble, you had someone on your side. The PDA was mentioned to me by numerous pharmacists, so I signed up and I am glad that I did.

Joining the PDA

The PDA has been a great help throughout my pre-reg year, offering support, information and especially with the COVID-19 experience, they have been pushing for pharmacists to be recognised and protected in our roles. COVID-19 has been the most challenging thing that I have faced in my career, and setbacks such as the non-inclusion of pharmacists in the ‘death in service’ pay-out was really detrimental to the morale of the profession, yet the PDA fought straight away to get us recognised. It is great to be part of something that is making real change happen.

As well as the positive changes that the PDA are rallying for and the support and guidance it has provided during my pre-reg year, they also provide a larger network of pharmacists and industry professionals who you can speak to and gain inspiration from, for your own career journey.

“The PDA is a great organisation to be involved in, for more than just security when things go wrong – they are there to support you when things are going right too.”

Now that I am a provisionally registered pharmacist and things are more stable regarding COVID-19, I am keen to train on services such as EHC, cystitis test and treat, and vaccinations. I am already trained for the pneumonia vaccine and flu vaccines and I am excited to get stuck into those appointments which support the flu vaccination programme, observing safe practice during these challenging times with COVID-19, in what is predicted to be the busiest year for flu vaccines to date.

I am also keen to progress into management and manage a pharmacy of my own so that I can continue to make positive changes and see the rewards of those for the pharmacy and the team.

Those who are now starting their pre-registration journey are hopefully settling into their new job roles well and have already learned a lot since they started. It’s so important that you take full advantage of this year and look for opportunities to expand your experience and knowledge in the pharmacy sector. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask to do specific things that interest you or that you want to learn more about. This is the perfect opportunity for you to not only prepare for becoming a pharmacist at the end of the year but also to explore options for your career past that.


By Abigail Clarke, PDA Prov-reg Rep

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