For me, one of the benefits of doing summer placement training with Boots is that I did not have to go through an interview process, which I believed would not necessarily show my strengths and abilities within a pharmacy setting.
I was pleased with the training I received while on the placement and it was this experience that convinced me Boots was the right company for my preregistration training.
Boots is currently one of Europe’s leaders in pharmacy so it was a privilege to be offered a preregistration position. Perhaps one of the best things about training with Boots is the support one receives, and their training programme is well organised.
Before my preregistration year began, I had the opportunity to meet my tutor, the staff at the store and also the previous trainee, which enabled me to get some insight of what to expect during my training.
When I first started my preregistration training, I was a little unsure of my role within the team. I thought my role was between a dispenser and a pharmacist. However, I was instantly welcomed, which helped me believe I was a valuable member of the team. It was a great boost to my confidence. Fortunately, I had previously completed the summer placement programme and, therefore, I had a good idea of how things worked at Boots.
Rapport with patients
Initially, I started out on the healthcare counter to refresh my knowledge of over-the-counter medicines and to learn to deal with minor ailments and customer queries. I was able to build up rapport with patients (you know you are building a good rapport with your patients when your name starts appearing in customer service surveys).
One of my favourite things about community pharmacy is the close interaction with patients every day. You can see the impact made on a patient’s well being. This is rewarding and gives me job satisfaction.
I also got to spend time with the store manager to get a better understanding of how the business is run and what the company expects of me. Eventually, with time, I was given more responsibilities, such as training the healthcare team on over-the-counter medicines and how to improve patient care through offering customers comprehensive treatments via link sales, for instance.
Unlike university, whereby one attends lectures and is given lecture notes, I found that most of the learning from preregistration training is based on the time, dedication and effort you give. It can be easy for preregistration trainees to take a back seat to their own training experience.
Therefore, being organised is crucial to striking a balance between working and learning. It is also important to make the best use of the preregistration tutor's knowledge and experience, and I was always encouraged by my tutor never to be afraid to ask questions.
Besides working in my base store, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to work in other stores when extra help was needed. This enabled me to learn from other pharmacists and to see how other stores function. Sometimes, I would bring new ideas back to my store that may help to improve how we do things.
Apart from working in the pharmacy, I also had the chance to observe GP consultations at local surgeries. This is a great way to establish a good relationship with local doctors and it also gives me insight into the work of medical practitioners and a better idea of how to put my skills to use in helping local surgeries.
Boots organises excellent training in the form of study days, which gave me the chance to meet and socialise with other trainees and proved to be a great way to share experiences. For example, we had group sessions on topics, such as the cardiovascular system, law and ethics, calculations and the Drug Tariff.
Unlike some other community pharmacies, where intersector learning opportunities are available (eg, experiencing working in a hospital pharmacy), Boots does not offer this as part of its training curriculum because the company provides training equivalent to that of an intersector experience through their study days.
Some of the topics covered include looking at the differences between a hospital pharmacy team and a community pharmacy team, accuracy clinical checking and total parenteral nutrition.
The training packs I receive from both Boots and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society were also valuable and informative learning tools. I was able to keep up-to-date with issues concerning pharmacy with The Pharmaceutical Journal, which helped smooth the run up to the final examination.
Preregistration training for me was not just about being able to complete the competencies required and passing the registration exam. I also learnt to improve my communication skills and learnt what it means to be both a team member and a team leader. The year also taught me what it means to be a responsible individual and how to deal with different situations, both positive and negative.
I was constantly applying these new skills to life outside my preregistration training. Although at times the training was tricky but, overall, it was an enjoyable experience and reinforced my commitment to community pharmacy.
Halima Katune is a community pharmacist in London