What to expect in a hospital Pharmacy as a pre-reg student

As a pre-registration pharmacy student this may well be your first exposure to a hospital pharmacy job and you may be unsure about what to expect. It is important to remember that you will of course be well supported within the pharmacy team and most of the time you will be working alongside a staff member, such as a pharmacy technician or pharmacist. They should be able to instruct you on daily duties and be open to offer advice and support when needed.

Much of your work will involve dispensing medication to inpatients or outpatients as this is a key skill for all pharmacists to have. The different medications you will be dispensing include medications that are to be labelled as in-patient medicines, discharge medicines and out-patient medicines. It is important that you know the differences between these.

You will most likely be asked to complete dispensing logs as part of your training before you are signed off to dispense unsupervised. It is important that you are becoming familiar of the processes that go through a pharmacists mind when screening medication, therefore as you are dispensing ensure that you are checking dosage and ensuring that medicines are correct and ensure that these medications are labelled accurately – you must remember that pharmacists are legally responsible for any dispensing errors.

When dispensing controlled drugs ensure that you are keeping a register, make sure you ask another pharmacy staff member how to do this before you start to make entries, as errors can occur. All pharmacies maintain an accurate record of controlled drugs dispensed for legal and stock control purposes.

There will be some situations when you are unsure about what to dispense when presented with a dispensing request, and in these circumstances you can check with another member of staff to explain this to you, or you can contact the pharmacist who made the request for the medication. For example, you may receive a request to dispense insulin, but you may be unsure about what device to supply and in this case it is perfectly acceptable to contact the requesting pharmacist.

You may also be asked to hand out dispensed medications to the public and when doing so you should be able to counsel and advise the public on their medicines. Information you should aim to give the patients include, what dose of medication to take and how frequently, duration of the course if required, and possible interactions with other medicines/treatments. It is important to advise patients of any adverse side-effects and who to refer to if these occur.

On some days you may be asked to prepare dossette boxes which are also known as compliance aids, usually for the elderly, but also for those with memory/learning difficulties or who have several combinations of tablets to take, where tablets are placed in compartments for specified days of the week. These can be complex for new members of staff therefore it would be useful to shadow the pharmacy technicians whilst they are dispensing these before you carry out the process yourself.

How did you find it when you first started in a hospital pharmacy?

Samrina Bhatti LinkedIn Profile


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