Cardiff pharmacy graduate triples her training for her pre-registration year
3 July 2017
Rather than tackling the traditional single specialism in her pre-registration year, Cardiff graduate Bisma Ali is one of the first students trying out three disciplines – community, primary care and hospital pharmacy – at the same time.
For any aspiring pharmacist, the post-university pre-registration year is a required rite of passage on the path to professionalism.
The well-trodden route gives recent graduates the opportunity to put their newly-acquired knowledge into practice as they gain vital experience and training in the world of work. But while the year traditionally involves trainees specialising in an individual sector, a new scheme is allowing participants to triple their training by trying their hands at not one but three different fields.
This novel three-sector approach exposes those on pre-registration contracts to the realities of life in hospital, community and primary care pharmacy – and Cardiff alumna Bisma Ali is among the first cohort to test it out.
The integrated pre-registration programme was developed thanks to collaborative working across NHS Wales, resulting in accreditation from the General Pharmaceutical Council. Betsi Cadawadr University Health Board is the first employer in NHS Wales to obtain training accreditation and, due to its success, two other health boards in Wales – Cwm Taf and Hywel Dda – will also be offering integrated pre-registration posts this year.
Paving the way
Over the past year, Bisma has been spending two days of each week in the hospital setting, a further two in community pharmacy and a final day in a GPs’ surgery. With the system offering up more experiences in shorter spells, the 2016 graduate admits that it was initially a shock to the system.
“In the beginning it was really overwhelming,” she admitted. “It’s very busy and there’s a lot to take in, but once you get past that stage, you get used to the schedule and find that it is really informative. You learn a lot and you are so much more driven to get the most out of each experience because you are there for such a short period of time each week.”
Bisma is one of six integrated pre-registration students taking part in the scheme in north Wales. She first heard about the position during a pharmacy fair while at Cardiff and was quickly sold on the idea.
“The year has been organised through the hospital, but it was Laura Doyle, from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, who told me about it,” said Bisma. “I was quite interested in primary care pharmacy at the time, but Laura explained how diverse this option was and it sounded very interesting. It wasn’t a very hard sell!”
As well as providing trainees with a broad base of experience, the three-sector, integrated pre-registration year provides employers with a more flexible pharmacy workforce and helps NHS Wales to focus on enabling person-centred care.
Although her “overwhelming” introduction to working across three fields each and every week entailed a steep learning curve, Bisma is quick to praise her supervisors and colleagues for helping her to settle in.
Her transition has also been aided by her time at Cardiff, with the theoretical knowledge accumulated during her studies putting the trainee in good stead when she is in front of actual patients.
She told us: “Everyone has been so accommodating and helpful and it has been useful to see people operating in their different fields and to take my experiences from one sector to the next.
“I have enjoyed dealing with patients. At university, we learned a lot about what we are meant to do when a patient is in front of us. Because of that, it is much easier to put what I know into practice when I am in that situation. I am also able to follow the patient’s journey through the different care settings and experience first-hand the issues faced in today’s healthcare system.”
Among the many benefits of gaining first-hand experience in each of the three disciplines, Bisma believes that her pre-registration route has highlighted just how many transferable skills exist in pharmacy’s different branches.
Her time in a community setting has taught her how to effectively take a drug history, meaning she is able to hit the ground running if she is required to perform the same task in a hospital.
Equally, her clinical experience gained working in the hospital environment means she is comfortable exploring drug interactions in a community pharmacy.
But Bisma believes that the most important transferable skill is communication – an ability she has been able to refine especially well during her community pharmacy placement.
She explained: “Because you are dealing with people all the time, you come face-to-face with a lot of patients and you learn a lot about how to speak to them and to other healthcare professionals.
“You can also be on your own, so you learn how to handle different situations when you’re quite independent. There are definitely parts of each [placement] that you use in the others, with primary care requiring a bit of both of the other two.”
With the end of her ground-breaking pre-registration year arriving as this issue of Script went to press, Bisma was focusing on how to use her enjoyable experience as she continues her journey into becoming a fully-fledged pharmacist.
Her love for the more clinical aspects of the profession has convinced her to undertake a diploma in hospital pharmacy – a decision she hopes will keep her up-to-speed with the direction she believes pharmacy is travelling while also teaching her more skills which can be used in other settings in the future.
But whatever tomorrow might hold, Bisma is unequivocal in her praise for the integrated pre-registration route.
“I would definitely recommend this to others,” she concluded. “There’s no doubt that it tests you, but it makes you a better pharmacist. I want to keep progressing and I feel like I can do that because of this pre-reg and the experience I have been given in all of the different sectors.
“Going down this route means that if you want to specialise in any one of them in the future, it will be possible.”
There are 12 integrated pre-registration posts in NHS Wales currently advertised through Oriel with a start date of August 2018. For further information about these posts please contact either Laura Doyle (Doylel5@cardiff.ac.uk) or Michele Sehrawat (Michele.firstname.lastname@example.org)