How the coronavirus crisis has impacted on pre-registration pharmacists – part 2

In the second instalment of our ‘coronavirus and its impact on pre-registration pharmacists’ series, we talk to Kyra Jones, a PDA Provisionally Registered Rep who at the point of writing this article, was a pre-reg community pharmacist at Boots.

Wed 5th August 2020 The PDA

I decided that I wanted to study pharmacy because I loved the idea that a career in pharmacy combined both scientific knowledge with interpersonal skills. I am very much a people person, so I knew straight away that pharmacy was the perfect career for me.

It is often said that it is much easier to secure a community pre-reg placement if you already work part-time in a community pharmacy while studying at university. I started working for Boots towards the end of my second year at Robert Gordon University in Scotland. I was fortunate enough to have a friend that helped me to get an interview there. I then found it relatively easy to secure a pre-reg placement with Boots after having already worked for them for two years. Having said that, I do know a lot of pharmacy students that had no issues securing a pre-reg placement without any prior experience in community pharmacy.

The week before the UK was put on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic was the most intense week in community pharmacy I have ever experienced. The piles of prescriptions from the GP surgeries were endless. Patients coming into the pharmacy would ignore social distancing advice, which made it extremely difficult to manage the queues. My tutor, who is also the manager of the pharmacy, was down south for training that week. It was around this exceptionally busy time that I accepted that I would have to put my pre-reg training to one side and focus on leading the team in the absence of my tutor.

Thankfully, the team and I have a fantastic working relationship and we really pulled together during that time to help give our patients the best possible care. I could not have wished for a better team of people! It was, however, such a relief when my tutor returned the following week and we were given the go-ahead to reduce our opening hours. Otherwise, I genuinely don’t think we would have been able to cope with the workload.

Although work was undoubtedly very demanding and stressful during the peak of COVID-19, it proved to be an invaluable opportunity to enhance my leadership skills to a whole new level. Having spoken to lots of fellow pre-reg trainees over the last few months about the postponed registration assessment and the introduction of provisional registration, it is evident that both have caused a significant amount of stress and anxiety.

Becoming a PDA Prov-Reg Rep

I decided to become a PDA Prov-Reg Rep because I felt passionate about making sure that all our voices were heard in the lead up to the provisional registration and throughout this transition period. This is a unique situation for both trainees and the PDA, therefore regular communication between both parties is extremely important. Since we received the announcement that our registration assessment would be postponed, the PDA has regularly liaised with the GPhC to ensure that we receive the correct support throughout our provisional registration period. The PDA has even launched the ‘PDA Provisional Registration Charter’ which makes it very clear what we should expect from our employers and where we can turn to for help.

“I am so grateful for the support we have received from the PDA who have continued to fight our corner during these uncertain times. I wanted to give something back to the PDA by helping to collate thoughts and concerns from our cohort of trainee pharmacists.”

If I have learned anything during my training year, it is that mistakes are unavoidable, regardless of how much experience you have. Pharmacists are human at the end of the day and cannot be expected to never make a single error throughout their career. Often these errors are harmless and can be rectified easily, but occasionally they can have serious consequences. By joining the PDA as a pre-reg for free you will receive professional indemnity insurance and will have access to expert advice should anything go wrong. This is as well as various other useful benefits such as PDA Union membership. Learn more.

I am fully confident in the knowledge that the PDA will continue to support us throughout our provisional registration period and the rest of our careers. I would strongly encourage all pharmacy students and pre-reg trainees to join the PDA for free if they haven’t already done so!

Future plans

I am so glad that my post as a provisionally registered pharmacist will count towards my 2 years of practice as I am keen to do the pharmacist independent prescribing course as soon as I can. During my pre-reg year, I spent a full day with a pharmacist independent prescriber who worked for one of the addiction’s services teams in Glasgow. I may look to specialise in this area in the future, but for now, I am really happy working in community pharmacy.

Advice for future pre-regs

My advice to new pre-reg trainees this year would be to embrace as many learning opportunities as possible; try not to stay in one setting all the time. I thoroughly enjoyed spending a day with the addiction’s services team, and I only got to go because I phoned them and asked to. I had planned to do more days out of the store like this but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to because of the COVID-19 outbreak. You will only have five days to spend in ‘unlisted’ training sites so make sure that you use them wisely!

 

By Kyra Jones

 

Get involved

Students and pre-regs can join the PDA for free here.

If you are a pre-reg and would like to get involved in a PDA focus group, please express your interest by emailing Jayne Love, PDA Union Organiser, at: Jayne.Love@pda-union.org.

Related links

 

 

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