What was your first contact with pharmacy as a profession?
My first contact with pharmacy was when I worked as a sales assistant for a local independent pharmacy when I was 17 years old.
Learning about medicines and medical conditions made this summer job very interesting. I enjoyed helping patients and working as part of a team.
The pharmacy manager noticed how happy and comfortable I was in a healthcare environment and encouraged me to find out more about pharmacy and think about pursuing it as a career.
Where did you do your preregistration training?
I did my preregistration training with Boots in a shopping centre in Leicester.
The scenarios I faced when I worked there helped me to develop into a confident and competent pharmacist. My tutor was experienced in his role and was always attentive to my learning needs and happy to answer the (many) questions I asked. The team were always helpful and supported me in my training, too.
Boots arranges monthly training sessions for all preregistration trainees in a local area. This was extremely valuable because it provided an opportunity for me and the other trainees to meet regularly, share experiences and help each other.
How were your early years of practice?
After qualifying, I took on a relief pharmacist position at Boots. I did this for a year before securing a job with Tesco, which led to me being asked to open a new 100-hour pharmacy in Leicester a year later.
This was an exciting opportunity for me and, with the experience I had gained from my previous roles, I felt confident and competent to take on this project. Although there were many challenges and setbacks, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience — setting up the pharmacy, recruiting and training new staff, introducing new services to the area and learning about opening a pharmacy. I continued to manage this store for another two years before deciding that I wanted a change from community pharmacy and, to try something new, I applied for a professional support pharmacist role at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
What is your current role and what does it entail?
My role, which is based within the RPS Support team, involves supporting members who contact the team for advice, developing support tools for members, co-ordinating the RPS’s response to consultations and attending external meetings.
I was promoted to senior professional development pharmacist last year and my responsibilities now include more consultation work and the development and implementation of standards and guidance.
I am also the lead author for the “Medicines, ethics and practice” guide for pharmacists. This involves updating and adding new content and working closely with the MEP team, RPS members and the MEP advisory panel.
Have you undertaken any professional development that is specific to what you do now?
In the four years I have been working at the RPS I have undertaken a lot of team training to support me in my role.
This training has included dealing with difficult enquiries, communication skills, time management, stakeholder management, project management skills and writing for the web.
Of which achievement are you most proud?
I enjoy being able to use my own experience and knowledge to help people. I try to put myself in their position and support them by using phrases, such as “in my experience”, when offering advice.
I am also proud of my work with the MEP guide. It is a well known resource that is used by pharmacists, preregistration trainees and students in their day-to-day practice. I am proud to be the lead author of such a reputable publication.
Do you have any advice for pharmacists who are not enjoying their current job?
Try not to be downhearted. You should feel excited in the knowledge that there are many things you can do as a pharmacist. Explore the range of different roles and sectors a pharmacist can work in. Talk to pharmacists; find out what they do and be proactive in gaining experience.
Rakhee Amin, MRPharmS, is senior professional development pharmacist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society
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