Ghada Zain, MPharm Pharmacy with Pre-Reg Placement
What is a Pharmacy Pre-Registration year:
To work as a qualified pharmacist, one must:
- Hold a Master’s level degree in pharmacy awarded in the UK which has been accredited by the GPhC
- Satisfactorily complete one year of pre-registration experience in an approved pharmaceutical establishment under the guidance of a pharmacist
- Pass the registration assessment at the end of the pre-registration year
Upon completion of the 4-year course, MPharm graduates undertake 12 months of pre-registration training. Normally, this would mean that after obtaining the 4-year Master’s degree in pharmacy a student would be required to undertake one year of ‘pre-registration experience’ in a pharmacy approved by the regulatory body and under the supervision of an experienced pharmacist.
Bradford MPharm Sandwich Programme
The University of Bradford was the first university in the UK to offer a 5-year practice-integrated MPharm programme.
The 5-year course is described as a sandwich or practice-integrated course because it contains two 6-month periods of professional training. These two periods together satisfy the pre-registration requirements of the regulatory body and are undertaken in between periods of academic study.
After completing three years of undergraduate studies, students go on their first 6-month pre-reg placement. After which they come back to the University for two semesters, then go back on the second half of their pre-reg placement.
First six months of pre-reg: what was it like?
Having the option to choose between a hospital pharmacy and a community pharmacy, I chose to have my first six months in a hospital setting.
I worked hard preparing for the placement process and was able to secure a position in a large teaching hospital which offered a great training programme. At first, I was worried about going to pre-reg with only three years of undergraduate study (compared to the 4-year students). However, I was happily surprised as I discovered that the University prepared us with all the basic clinical knowledge we needed.
It was tough at first, transitioning from being a full-time student to working in a full-time job (working 37.5 hours a week), but you get used to it. Full-time work is completely different to being a student. You have responsibilities and certain roles to fulfil. But it felt nice to know that I still had the chance to go back to university (be a student for a year) before going into a full-time job.
Being a pre-reg, you have to find a balance between learning and supporting the service you are working at. Pre-reg is an opportunity to be in the workplace, learning and experiencing what it is like, without having the responsibilities of being a pharmacist. That doesn’t mean you do not have to be responsible; it just means you have fewer responsibilities which gives you more time to learn.
During my pre-reg, I had the opportunity to participate in various activities. I was able to learn more about the patient’s journey in the hospital and how crucial the pharmacist’s role is in ensuring patient safety. For example, I worked with the pharmacist to change a patient’s medication as the patient had swallowing difficulties and was not able to take his normal tablets.
I had the opportunity to speak to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals and work together to improve patients’ health. For example, we had a conversation with the doctor and the nurses after being asked what medication is best to give a patient who has a low haemoglobin level (anaemia), and what is the best way to give it to the patient, i.e. as tablets or as injections. I was able to speak to patients, ask them questions relating to their medication and make recommendations to help improve their side effects.
Why I recommend the Bradford MPharm sandwich programme:
- It helped me see what real-life practice is like
- It allowed me to understand the importance of everything we study at university (because I was able to see how it affected patient care)
- It helped me identify the gaps in my knowledge while giving me time to come back to uni and become a student again and work on those gaps
- I gained an increased sense of responsibility, and improved time management and organisational skills
- I learned a lot of clinical knowledge and gained a lot of experience
- I feel more confident and comfortable knowing that I can come back to university to improve my clinical skills
- Doing pre-reg in a hospital helped me learn about drug history, medicine reconciliation and medicine review (which are important for our final degree assessment)