Being in pharmacy certainly opens your eyes to the variety of sectors you can go into in the future. Having currently finished pre-reg applications, it’s time to look forward to the pre-registration year which sets you up to become a qualified pharmacist. The main decision here is to look between hospital and community settings and see what works for you. I’ve been offered a hospital placement in Scotland which goes to show the possibilities of where you can go to do your pre-reg training. Some places also offer the bonus of an interim GP placement in combination with hospital or community working alongside GP’s in clinics with jobs including but not limited to medicine usage reviews, vaccinations, flu jabs and minor ailments. This year is also offered up by major pharmaceutical companies including the likes of AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline which gives you access to the production and quality control side to medicines.
Research and lab-based work
Fourth year projects give you a scope of the research side to pharmacy which incorporates many fields such as biochemistry and nanomedicine. This route often requires you to take up a Phd but with your pre reg qualification, it’s possible to do part time work (locum pharmacists) to keep your options open. With a pharmacy degree you not only finish with the clinical skills, but you have the advantage of being trained to be lab competent. This means that it’s never too late to pursue a career in becoming a research scientist or to work in a lab if that suits your interests.
Each year at Kings students receive hospital placement opportunities with well-renowned hospitals such as Guys and St Thomas’s or the Royal Brompton. My first-year placement was very brief only about three hours long and was more of a guided tour of the hospital with an idea of the different sectors that hospital pharmacy is split into. Working as a ward pharmacist or in the dispensary were the two most common roles and this involved being a part of ward rounds, independent prescribing, dispensing and processing medication requests and being involved in patients treatment plans whilst in and also after their hospital stays. The next role that was advertised was working as part of the aseptics dispensing unit overseeing the preparation of sterile medicines and chemotherapy amongst many other medications that require sterile preparation. After this we got a to meet the medicine usage team who are available to see whether certain medications can be used for difficult/unique scenarios not covered by the BNF. Finally, we met the consultant pharmacist who was involved in evaluating practice and running a specialist department such as the cardiac or renal wards.
Overall pharmacy is a very diverse profession and there are even more roles than just the ones described above. These give you a flavour of what the most common areas that most pharmacy students go into but hopefully it’s enough to encourage you to give it a try!