Leeds Teaching Hospitals is one of the largest trusts in the UK — a 1,785-bed teaching hospital that is a tertiary referral centre based in Leeds. I started as one of 15 pre-registration trainees at Leeds in August 2015. Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group comprises 42 GP practices looking after a population of approximately 257,000 people. To be part of the first joint pre-registration programme between Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust was an invaluable experience and important achievement for me.
Many factors influenced my decision to join the programme. I enjoyed delivering patient care during hospital pharmacy summer placements and was fascinated by developing transferable skills and supporting the medicines management team in a sector I had not experienced before.
I spent six months training at the hospital and six months at the CCG, with cross-sector experience in both community pharmacy and in the acute mental health hospital under the Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust.
This blog will cover my experiences in hospital — a second blog post will cover my experiences at the CCG.
At the hospital
My pre-registration year began with a structured ward training programme to accredit my skills for working at ward level. This involved three months rotating around several departments: technical services (to understand and develop the fundamental “bread-and-butter” skills of dispensing); aseptic dispensing (learn how to order and provide ward support to the pharmacists and ensure a continuous supply of patient medicines); and assisting with recording drug histories.
There is a wide range of specialties at the trust, including gastroenterology, critical care and oncology. I have been exposed to a diverse range of clinical conditions, where I learnt how to prioritise patients who needed seeing first, assess patients’ own drugs, prepare medicines for discharge, develop skills for taking drug histories, and run warfarin counselling clinics following successful completion of the training. I worked in inpatient pharmacy and at ward level in medical assessment unit, cardiology, cardiothoracics, orthopaedics and neurology. During the hospital rotation, I was also given opportunities to arrange additional ward visits of interest.
The pharmacy department at Leeds has structured continuing training programmes and many of the pharmacists use their skills as independent prescribers in practice. It was a nurturing and supportive environment to develop practical skills in applying university knowledge to clinical practice. My first three months flew by, after which I transitioned into the CCG for six months.
In the final three months of my pre-registration year, which took place back at the hospital, I knew what I needed to achieve before the end and could work more independently because I was given more responsibilities on the ward — the next step to prepare us for working as pharmacists.
I had rotations in the mental health intensive care unit, medicines information, clinical trials and paediatrics. In the final month, I was given the responsibility to manage a neurology ward under the supervision of the neurology pharmacist, working closely with the multidisciplinary team at ward level. Acting as the main point of contact for pharmacy on the ward was a steep curve in learning to manage my time and find information.