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My work experience in a community pharmacy

Blogs are not edited by PJ staff*. The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Pharmaceutical Journal.

*Blog pieces that have previously been printed in the PJ and Clinical Pharmacist are edited.

By Shilpa Tank
17 May 2011

Recently I had the opportunity to carry out a week’s external placement in one of the Lloydspharmacy branches. The external placement, which was organised by my university, was a great way of gaining experience in a community pharmacy.

I can recall my first work experience at a pharmacy, where I was stacking shelves and spending some time behind the till (I wasn’t allowed to do anything else at that age!) and since then I hadn’t worked in a pharmacy.

So what did I expect? Before starting the week, I felt as though I would be ‘thrown in at the deep end’, however this was not the case and for that reason I enjoyed my time even more. 

My second and probably my biggest worry was that the work placement would consume most of my revision time, but instead it helped me with my revision, thanks to continuously being quizzed on what the different medications were used for. By the end of the week I was able to identify a wider range of medications and their indications of use. It no longer took me several minutes to find a medicine, which was the case on my first day.

I was able to dispense and relate the dispensing task back to what I had been taught during my first and second years at university. In addition, I was made aware of any mistakes that I made and possible ways in which I could reduce similar mistakes or ‘near-misses’ from recurring.

Despite the external placement being a short one, I enjoyed my experience and felt that I gained a lot from it. Most importantly, it confirmed that the role of a pharmacist is more than just dispensing and that many people seek the advice of a pharmacist so communication skills are vital.

(I would like thank everyone at my placement for making this work experience a valuable and an enjoyable one.)

Implementing this scheme in other universities

Hi Shilpa,

I was like you, having worked in a pharmacy before starting my first year (albeit not doing much) but I didn't have any further experience until last summer. To get the work experience last summer was really hard as most pharmacies were either not recruiting, not taking work experience students, too busy, etc. This sort of scheme would be really good at universities because students need some sort of experience during university whether they like it or not, how else will they decide on a future career path?