Ways to get your pharmacy career off to a cracking start

    Getting registered no longer comes with an assurance of work — here are some tips for those looking to work in community pharmacy

You become a pharmacist the day you register, but the transition from student to pharmacist started when you became a preregistration trainee. The preregistration year should have fully prepared you for your future role, with every day bringing you closer to working as a pharmacist.

How do I get the job I want?

If you think getting your registration number will get you the job you want, then you are mistaken. Because of financial constraints, community pharmacies are looking more closely at the way they run their business and how to move forward with the changes in the pharmacy contract to stay ahead of the game.
Employers want to know: what assets you will bring to the pharmacy; how you will provide a first-class service to customers; how you will increase prescription figures; whether you will be conducting services, such as medicines use reviews; and how you will meet their business targets. High-calibre pharmacists who are forward-thinking and strive to meet these criteria will get the best jobs.

If you are looking for locum work, you only have to visit PJ Careers to see the huge range of agencies with which you can sign up.

On the other hand, specialist recruitment agencies can help you look for permanent pharmacy positions. They can also offer you individual advice on the direction you want to take with your career.

Enhancing your skills

Any work you do is an opportunity to build your skills. As a pharmacist, you already have the essential skills required of you — remember those performance standards you were signed off on during your preregistration training?

It is up to you to develop those skills and use them to your advantage to build relationships with patients and healthcare professionals so that you can provide a patient-focused service and advance your career.

But beware! Mistakes can happen due to over-confidence, carelessness, being disorganised or being burnt out.

On the flip side, you may not realise how prepared you are. Over the course of your preregistration year, you have developed the skills to help you adapt quickly to the environment you will be working in. As long as you never act beyond the scope of your knowledge and skills, you should not go wrong. And remember, even as an experienced pharmacist, do not be afraid to ask for help.
Do not forget that you will need to continue to prove over the course of your career that you have maintained your knowledge and competence by completing at least nine continuing professional development entries a year.

Building good relationships

When you start working, you will need to delegate tasks and make best use of the skill mix available to you. Developing good relationships from the start will make this easier. One of the main hallmarks of a successful pharmacist is reliability.

The manager will expect you to fit in with his or her pharmacy, and staff will be providing feedback. It is best to be adaptable but, at the same time, assertive.
Being confident, polite and respectful is crucial to ensure your team can trust you. Being comfortable in your role will ensure your team is, too. Above all, be professional at all times. If you spend the day on your mobile telephone or sitting down reading the newspaper, you can expect that your job will not last long.

This piece is abridged from an article by Altaf Vaiya and Noma Al-Ahmad, first published online in Tomorrow’s Pharmacist (2010).

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