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A tiny fish in a massive pond: foundation training at 13 weeks

Scott Rutherford is a trainee pharmacist representing students and trainees on the PDA’s National Executive. Scott is also the President of the PDA LGBT+ Network. Here, Scott reflects on his foundation training so far.

Sat 3rd December 2022 The PDA

As I move beyond the 13th week of my foundation training year, I wanted to share some of my experiences and observations from the first quarter of my year. As a trainee pharmacist in a hospital setting, I felt very much like a tiny fish in a massive pond but, fortunately, I managed to settle into the pharmacy team quite quickly. I threw myself into my induction and technical training.

My advice for upcoming trainees would be for them to spend the first couple of weeks getting to know the team and familiarising themselves with the processes within their workplace. Whilst you do this, spend a little bit of time getting familiar with the GPhC learning outcomes so that you are able to easily identify situations that you can reflect on to meet your competencies.

Trainees have a unique role within the team; we are learning on the job whilst significantly contributing to service provision and patient care, which can often seem like a lot to take on. In my first few weeks, it felt more important to focus on my workplace training rather than studying or writing evidence. Once settled and completing various logs, I started to think about writing up evidence to upload to the e-Portfolio. Importantly, a large chunk of my evidence has come from working on the counter which, whilst sometimes stressful, has allowed me to develop my communication and problem-solving skills.

Giving out prescriptions gives you a great opportunity to do some reading about the prescribed drugs and practise counselling patients on the key information that you learn. You can ask for feedback and record your work using one of the ‘supervised learning events tools’ provided by Health Education England (HEE).

Now that my induction and technical training is complete, I have one afternoon a week reserved for studying in addition to studying as I work. For example, consulting and learning from the BNF, reading guidelines, performing calculations, and revising Controlled Drug requirements. If you don’t have any protected study time, it’s important that you speak to your designated supervisor about getting a bit of time each week set aside to work on writing up your evidence and beginning to do some revision. Some trainees find planning helpful at this point in order to manage their time effectively.

Hopefully, you are enjoying your foundation training year too. However, I know from members’ experiences that some trainees may be struggling to adjust to working life, stressed out by the workload, or worried about the future; it’s an important and very busy year. I have definitely had stressful days and weeks and found myself worrying about everything I have to fit into the next few months. But it is important to remember that there is lots of support available, from your designated supervisor, colleagues, friends, family, and from organisations, like the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA). From their sessions with Pharmacist Support and factsheets on stress and workplace bullying to their helpline and access to 24/7 counselling, the PDA is keen to support trainees.

If you are a trainee pharmacist, make sure to take advantage of FREE membership of the PDA for access to indemnity insurance, an education programme, and support, including access to a WhatsApp group for trainees.

By Scott Rutherford, trainee pharmacist and President of the PDA LGBT+ Network 

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