MPharm Pharmacy B230
Submitted by Thomas
Throughout my school life, I have particularly enjoyed the sciences. I am interested in learning about new concepts and ideas, such as investigating reaction mechanisms in organic chemistry. I am drawn in by medicinal chemistry and elements of microbiology, looking at processes on a cellular scale in my A level. To me, pharmacy is a perfect combination of my passion for health sciences, as well as a personal drive to serve and help people.
I was delighted to volunteer at my local community pharmacy prior to being offered the job as a pharmacy assistant. This experience has enlightened me to the duties undertaken by staff within a community pharmacy. My work on the medicine counter has enabled me to utilise my interpersonal skills, warmly approaching members of the public while delivering a professional service and meeting the varying needs of each customer. Dispensary responsibilities have varied from dispensing medication to making antibiotic dilutions. Self-checking and accuracy are skills which I have exercised throughout my duties in the dispensary. Time awareness has proved pivotal when dispensing to ensure daily deadlines are met, with time to spare for other tasks. I thoroughly enjoy both sides of my work in the pharmacy.
A role in the pharmacy that increased my awareness of how pharmacists can support the public was dispensing controlled drugs; methadone and buprenorphine. When dispensing controlled drugs, I must keep a running balance of the drugs in the safe, to be checked by a pharmacist entering the collection into the controlled drugs register. The idea of prescribing opioid substitutes for opiate addiction confused me at first. How could you be sure prescribing methadone for heroin addiction wouldn't lead to methadone addiction? Through handling prescriptions and speaking with the pharmacist, I found that dosage is lowered over time to rehabilitate addicts, all of which are relative to an individual's drug dependency. There is, however, research into alternative treatments. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide is a co-enzyme derived from vitamin B3 which I have come across in studying respiration. Addicts are typically more prevalent to having low protein and vitamin reserves. NAD is used in "megavitamin" treatment and is reported to be successful in treating opiate addiction. NAD treatment often results in improved mental clarity, returned focus and improved moods.
Alongside A-levels and working in the pharmacy, I have begun studying for the Healthcare Assistant course with Buttercups Training. This course is a combination of level 2 Dispensing Assistant and Medicine Counter Assistant courses. Law, calculations and healthy lifestyles are example modules covered and are so far proving invaluable in my work. Studying this qualification has also been my first opportunity to thoroughly study the medicines and drugs a pharmacist may encounter on a day to day basis, aside from looking up medicines in my copy of the BNF.
In addition to academia, I have also engaged in various extracurricular activities as a sixth former. One of these was a mentoring programme. I worked with a year 8 student who was under-performing academically. In this time, I broke down each issue they faced, helping them devise solutions to tackle issues such as time management and focusing in lesson. This experience allowed me to develop my interpersonal skills and communication skills, which are crucial for pharmacy work - whether it be staff or customer interaction.
Although my experiences have exposed me to community pharmacy, I am curious how similar work may be carried out in hospitals. Pharmacists working alongside GPs is also an exciting idea for me, which I would like to explore in the future. I believe the hours of varied experience I've gained in a community pharmacy and studying for a vocational qualification, have given me a well-balanced insight to the world of pharmacy, to be followed by studying for the Master of Pharmacy degree.