Are you hoping to apply for a preregistration placement in hospital? Helen Middleton provides some essential information on the process, plus tips on how to make a successful application
The NHS preregistration recruitment website www.pharmacytraining.nhs.uk is now open for 2013 preregistration applications for hospital pharmacy in England and Wales. This article contains information on the structure of the application and the process of applying, and provides tips on how to make a successful hospital pharmacy preregistration application.
Applications are made online and the application is divided into three sections:
• Academic referee details
• Curriculum vitae (CV) ― mainly factual details
• Profile ― the section of your application where you sell yourself
You can complete these sections in any order but be aware that the deadline for academic referee details is 30 June 2012 and the deadline for the rest of your application is 31 August 2012.
You do not have to make your whole application in one sitting. I recommend that you make a start on your CV and profile(s) and save them in draft format and then edit them at a later date.
You can complete the CV and the some of the profile questions before you decide which hospitals to apply to. However, the final section of the profile asks you to provide a statement in support of your application, stating the reasons for your interest in working in hospital pharmacy and your chosen hospital(s). You can submit the same profile to all four of your hospitals but most students choose to tailor their supporting statement to each of them.
Therefore, you will need to decide where to apply before completing the supporting statement. Look for the “Browse hospitals” icon on the website and click on this to search for information about the hospitals. Each hospital’s page includes information about the hospital, the preregistration training programme, proposed number of placements available, where the hospital is located, transport links and leisure facilities. There is also information on whom to contact to find out more information for each hospital.
The CV is the part of the application where you provide details about yourself, including contact details, education and previous experience. The CV section also contains an equality monitoring form and eligibility to work in the UK form. The CV section contains nine parts that you can complete in any order.
The most important part is where you write about your previous experience. You can include pharmacy and non-pharmacy related experience, which may include previous employment, vacation placements, university placements and voluntary work.
It is a myth that you have to have hospital pharmacy vacation experience to apply for a hospital preregistration position
It does not matter where you obtained your experience as long as you can describe what you learnt and how this is relevant to your preregistration application. Interpersonal skills, team working skills and organisational skills are just as important as pharmacy specific experience.
The purpose of the application form is to get you short-listed for interview. The hospital short-listing panel will compare your application with the requirements of the job description and the person specification for the job. Copies of these can be found on each hospital’s page on the website.
Take the time to match your skills and experience to the job description and person specification in your application carefully. If you do not do this, recruiters have to try to do this themselves, which will take them time and effort. The easier you make it for them in your application the better your chance of being short-listed. Remember that the short-listing panel will probably be reviewing a large number of application forms on the same day and lots of these forms will be fairly similar.
Your challenge is to make your application stand out so there is absolutely no question in the recruiter’s mind that you should be offered an interview
The profile section of the form is the part of the application that allows you to sell yourself to potential employers. It is also the part of your application that you should take the most time and effort over.
The profile asks questions about your experiences and qualities (eg, organisational skills, working effectively with others, professionalism, social and recreational interests or hobbies). When you are asked for examples make sure that you provide them (eg, when asked to describe a situation where you had to demonstrate your professionalism and/or integrity, give an example and do not just write a statement about why it is important to demonstrate professionalism as a pharmacist).
The supporting statement is the final part of the profile section. You can also use the supporting statement to include any other information that is not already covered in the form which backs up how and why you would be suitable for the job. You will also be asked to provide a brief statement in support of your application, stating the reasons for your interest in working in hospital pharmacy and your chosen hospital(s). This is not the time to write an essay about how great hospital pharmacy is. Focus instead on:
• Explaining clearly why you want to work at a particular hospital
• Persuading the short-listing panel that you have the skills and qualities for the position
• Demonstrating your knowledge of the job role and hospital pharmacy
The Panel lists some dos and don’ts for completing your preregistration application.
Dos and don’ts
Do submit your academic referee details on time. Academic references are not collected for students who submit these details late.
Don’t expect to complete the whole application form in one sitting. Consider booking at least three sessions in your diary to work on it. It will undoubtedly take longer than you think.
Do make a draft of your answers to the profile questions in Word format first so that you can use the spelling and grammar checker.
Don’t rely on your spellchecker! I recently suffered the embarrassment of incorrectly spelling the word “using”. My spellcheck corrected it to the word “urine”!
Do refer to the job description and person specification when writing your application. These documents provide an insight into what a hospital is looking for in an applicant. You need to demonstrate in your application that you have what it wants.
Don’t submit your application until you have checked it thoroughly. Accuracy is an important part of being a pharmacist.
Do be concise and don’t waffle. There are character limits for the questions but this does not mean you have to use all the characters in your answer.
Don’t leave it to the last minute to submit your applications. Late applications will not be accepted under any circumstances
Do provide real examples when answering the profile questions. Specific is better than vague so back up what you are saying with relevant examples of your experience, achievements and learning. Examples can be from your personal or professional life, and examples from your personal life can make you stand out from the crowd and give the recruiter an idea of your personality.
Don’t copy someone else’s application, let someone else copy yours or download answers from the internet. Your application will be subject to checks for plagiarism and collusion and if you cheat you will be caught.
Do use professional language and pay attention to grammar in your application. Writing in text language is not appropriate but it is surprising how many students do this.
A well constructed, clear, concise application with an interesting profile and supporting statement is what makes an application stand out
Helen Middleton is lead for the national recruitment scheme for NHS preregistration trainee pharmacists (England and Wales)