“From a very young age I aspired to become a pharmacist. After 12 years since qualifying, I can honestly say that I find pharmacy to be a very rewarding career,” she says.
“At the start of my career, it seemed to be a slow, uphill struggle, but that was only transient. It may seem clichÃ©d, but hard work, dedication and perseverance led to my success,” says Ms Bukhari, who is now clinical lecturer, student support manager and preregistration co-ordinator at the UCL School of Pharmacy.
“The profession has given me a great degree of flexibility to move across different sectors and for me to finally find my niche in the world of academia,” she says.
The rise of new schools of pharmacy has considerably increased competition for preregistration placements for new pharmacy graduates. As a preregistration co-ordinator Ms Bukhari helps students throughout their four-year degree course to prepare for their future career, providing an important and valuable service to undergraduate pharmacy students at the school as well as to alumni preregistration trainees.
Ms Bukhari, who is a graduate of the University of London School of Pharmacy (now the UCL School of Pharmacy), says: “With more and more schools of pharmacy opening and an increasing number of students qualifying as pharmacists, who knows what the future for pharmacy holds.”
“In my opinion, the numbers of students graduating should be proportionate to the number of preregistration places available. This may avoid the huge disappointment faced by a percentage of MPharm graduates who fail to find preregistration places as well as combating the potential issue of saturation of the profession.”
In the first two years of the degree course, Ms Bukhari helps students to find summer work placements. In their third year, she helps them to prepare their preregistration application forms and guides them through interview processes, offering one-to-one counselling sessions for students who, by their fourth year, have not yet found a place.
At the end of the third year, mock preregistration interviews are held for students at the school to help prepare them for their real interviews. A panel is set up and the interviews are conducted in a similar fashion to the real thing. Students are then given extensive feedback after their interviews and provided with tips on how to improve their interview skills.
Ms Bukhari also goes out of her way to try to organise summer placements for students, conducting the selection process for prospective employers in the form of interviews at the school for students who have had limited pharmacy experience and who have been unsuccessful in obtaining previous work experience.
All students have access to a drop-in service whereby they can submit their CVs or application forms for comments and suggestions from the preregistration co-coordinator. Throughout the four-year course, Ms Bukhari, in conjunction with the University of London Careers Service, runs a series of careers workshops for students.
The relationship between Ms Bukhari and students does not end as soon as they leave the pharmacy school. During their preregistration year, she offers revision sessions to graduates to help them prepare for their registration examinations at the end of the year. She also prepares students with private one-to-one or group tutoring. “Private tuition can raise levels of performance, and help students to increase their confidence, satisfaction and enthusiasm in a subject,” she says.
One-to-one lessons are one hour in duration and students can book as many lessons as they like, depending on their progress and requirements. Sessions can be online or distance learning, for students who live outside the London area.
Small group sessions are over a 12-month period — a study day per month. These sessions cover the entire GPhC syllabus and prepare students fully for the registration examination. “Spot tests” containing questions similar to those in the GPhC examination are given to students at the end of each study day.
“Feedback from students has been incredibly positive: they find this targeted service to be very useful in preparing them for their first jobs after graduation,” Ms Bukhari says.
Aside from careers advice, Ms Bukhari offers pastoral and welfare support to pharmacy undergraduates and teaches clinical pharmacy, law and ethics to all four years of the undergraduate course.
After she qualified, Ms Bukhari worked as a pharmacy manager at Westbury Chemist, Streatham, London, for a year, after which she moved on to work for Bart’s and The London NHS Trust as a clinical pharmacist in surgery. It was at this time she developed an interest in teaching.
Two and a half years later, she started working for the School of Pharmacy, University of London, as the preregistration co-ordinator for the university and the academic facilitator. This position involved teaching therapeutics to MPharm students and assisting the director of undergraduate studies.
While teaching undergraduates, Ms Bukhari completed postgraduate diplomas in pharmacy practice and in teaching in higher education, after which she took on the role of the MPharm programme manager, which involved the management of the undergraduate degree as well as being the preregistration co-ordinator for the university.
Ms Bukhari developed an interest in writing in her first year of working in academia. Six years on and she has authored a number of books.
Among her other achievements is her position with the Pharmaceutical Press as a multiple-choice question writer. She is also involved with TP ONtrack, the revision tool produced by the PJ’s Tomorrow’s Pharmacist online publication. She recently chaired the RPS preregistration conference and was a guest speaker at the RPS preregistration study day in Birmingham and Solihull, which was held at Aston.
In her spare time Ms Bukhari, who is fluent in English, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi, enjoys travelling, having visited France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, the US, Canada, the Middle East and parts of Asia.
“Sport is a very important part of my life and I regularly play badminton during the winter months and tennis during the summer period. I believe exercise to be important in maintenance of good health, and to support this belief, I am a member of the local gym, and attend on a weekly basis,” she says.
Ms Bukhari also enjoys putting her culinary skills to practice by experimenting with a wide variety of worldwide cuisine. “I particularly enjoy cooking the cuisine of the Far East,” she says.
She also participates in her local Asian community, getting involved in functions, such as annual musical events, and raising money for charity.
She even finds time for her artistic talents, expressing herself with the art of henna painting. “I have designed bridal henna on many brides-to-be,” she says. How many pharmacists can say that?