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Life isn’t a race and failure will only make you stronger

Ayah Abbass, PDA NAWP Network Committee Member and Community/GP Pharmacist has taken the opportunity to speak about her experience of failing the GPhC pre-reg assessment and its affect on her wellbeing.

Wed 26th January 2022 The PDA

Below Ayah also discusses her hopes for the profession to better support those who have failed an exam.

After reading Mared Foulkes’ story, I felt heartbroken. My prayers and thoughts are with her family and friends… I imagine many students have been or are going through the same feeling of failure. It has raised questions as to how we can better support potential pharmacists and help students and trainees to see that failing an exam is a temporary hurdle. Students and trainees should feel the support of the profession behind them and know that there are people to talk to. These people may be fellow pharmacists, PDA Reps, and organisations such as Pharmacist Support and the PDA.

After I failed my first attempt at the GPhC assessment, I felt lonely and pushed people away. I felt ashamed and not good enough. I wasn’t born in this country, so I always pushed myself to be an overachiever because I feared falling behind. I had never failed a major exam and saw failing as a tremendous halt to my life. I remember anxiously waiting for the results but never considering what I would do if I failed. I thought “maybe you didn’t work hard enough” or “maybe this is the end of my pharmacy journey.”

“Life isnt a race and failure will only make you stronger.”

It has taken me time to talk about how I felt after failing the assessment. I was lucky to come from a university that had lecturers supporting students who failed and had a group where we could speak to each other. That’s when I realised I wasn’t the only one and I started to feel a bit better.

I have now been a qualified pharmacist for a couple of years, and I am writing this article to try and help other students to overcome the feeling of failure and that they may know that they’re a potential pharmacist.

Supporting students and trainees

As a profession, we need to work on ensuring that students and trainees feel safe to talk about failing. We need to work towards improving the culture of support at universities through better wellbeing provisions and supportive lecturers. There needs to be a strong sense of community amongst students. The PDA Student Reps Network are continuing to support students, and I hope they can build relationships with and amongst students so that they can better support each other.

I would encourage any students who have failed an exam to reach out to your PDA Student Reps and others at your university to see if anyone can help you see a clearer perspective. Plan and organise your day, try and reflect on your previous exam and what you can improve for next time.

I would also encourage trainees and those who may have failed the December 2021 assessment to remain a member of the PDA. As a trainee or potential pharmacist, you can register for the PDA Education Hub revision programme in the spring and build a network of support. There are many who did not pass the first time who have now successfully joined the profession.

I hope this article helps anyone who needs it and please remember that life isnt a race. You will be a pharmacist at the right time. You are doing a hard degree with a tremendous amount of pressure, its a long road, but you’ve got this.

By Ayah Abbass, NAWP Network Committee Member and Community/GP Pharmacist

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