Student Pharmacists are a class act

The University’s innovative pre-registration training provision has provided Pharmacy students with unique employment opportunities.

Five years ago Sunderland School of Pharmacy developed pre-registration training posts in conjunction with a local community pharmacy, MD & A Burdon Ltd in Whickham. The programme offers students a split between an academic and a community pharmacy pre-reg position – giving them a unique insight into pharmacy in the workplace and in an academic environment.

Pharmacy graduates are required to complete a pre-registration year in practice followed by a registration assessment before they can register as a pharmacist in the UK with the General Pharmaceutical Council.

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Kathryn Davison, Team Leader for Pharmacy Practice and Clinical Therapeutics, who is one of the founders of this programme, said: “The idea is that we encourage our graduates to undertake a future career in academia.”

“Since this programme has been developed we have seen a 100% pass rate for our trainees in the General Pharmaceutical Council's Registration Assessment. Most of our trainees have continued to be involved with teaching in the undergraduate MPharm programme after qualifying as a pharmacist.”

The scheme was set up by Kathryn Davison, Academic Tutor Kathryn Bullen and University of Sunderland graduate Pharmacist Mr Mark Burdon. It is advertised internally to Level 3 Pharmacy students and they can apply and go through the interview process. If successful, they will take part in this pre-registration training from July to July where they will work three days at Burdons Pharmacy and two days at the University of Sunderland.

Kathryn added: “It’s a very rare opportunity to do an academic pre-registration programme and we think we are at the moment the only university in the country that offers this dual programme.”

Talitha Orlandi, who was one of the first trainees on this programme, said: “The split pre-registration position was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, it was a unique and diverse position that challenged me at every point of my year.”

“The clinical practice side of the role allowed me to see patients giving me opportunities to interact and put my clinical knowledge into practice. The academic side allowed me to work alongside a range of pharmacists and constantly develop my knowledge, as I had to ensure I was fully able to offer students’ a successful learning experience.

“I was fortunate to gain experience in teaching, it opened up opportunities that may not have been available at such an early stage of my professional career otherwise.”

Rebecca Waton, who took part in the programme in the academic year 2015-16, has remained employed with Burdon Pharmacies and is currently working as a teacher practitioner at the University.

She said: “Being able to complete a pre-registration year which included experience of both community pharmacy and academia gave me a unique selling point compared to other newly qualified pharmacists.

“I found it allowed me to complete some of the General Pharmaceutical Council’s pre-registration competencies much easier than my peers and I found the variation in working practices really added to job satisfaction.

“Colleagues from the pharmacy profession are always really impressed to hear that I have experience in academia at such an early stage in my career. Having continued to work at the University since completing my pre-reg I continue to enjoy passing on my knowledge and experiences to the pharmacists of the future.”

Kathryn added: “Students really value new graduates coming into the classroom because they recognise them as someone who has recently gone through what they are doing at that moment and respond really well.”

Meadbh Conway and Andreea Pop recently started their pre-registration posts and are looking forward to the year ahead.

“The split academic/community pre-registration programme provides me with unique opportunities to work alongside senior academic pharmacists, together with the benefits of community pharmacy,” Meadbh said. “From helping with dispensing classes, to holding seminars, the opportunities are broad ranging and unique and I am looking forward to the year ahead.”

Andreea added: “I was very keen on getting this post because I want to become a good pharmacist who is patient focused but also is involved in innovating and moving the pharmacy sector forward, and I believe this pre-reg programme allows me to do that. Working alongside experienced staff with different backgrounds who are always so keen to share their knowledge and train their students is also a massive bonus!”

Kathryn concluded: “We now have a string of graduates who have continued to have a close link with the University and we intend to continue these posts into the future.”

L-R bottom row: Rebecca Waton, Meadbh Conway, Andreea Pop. L-R top row: Kathryn Davison, Kathryn Bullen, Andrew Sturrock, Alexander Moore, Talitha Orlandi.

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