The Student Room Group

work experience in a pharmacy

I'm currently doing some work experience at a pharmacy and I am on my break right now and all i've really done is stack shelves, rearrange items and help one man count his change. Is this normal for me to do for work experience in a pharmacy? I'm not really learning anything and have done everything independantly. The pharmacist (manager) didn't even talk to me once. The only person really talking to me is the cashier. I thought work experience at a pharmacy would be more medical, I might aswell have done work experience in a supermarket! Or is this all because of covid that they are unable to give me any sort of hands on job, more releated to pharmacy.
Reply 1
Original post by Mary hall
I'm currently doing some work experience at a pharmacy and I am on my break right now and all i've really done is stack shelves, rearrange items and help one man count his change. Is this normal for me to do for work experience in a pharmacy? I'm not really learning anything and have done everything independantly. The pharmacist (manager) didn't even talk to me once. The only person really talking to me is the cashier. I thought work experience at a pharmacy would be more medical, I might aswell have done work experience in a supermarket! Or is this all because of covid that they are unable to give me any sort of hands on job, more releated to pharmacy.

You're not experienced, trained or qualified, you will not be with the for very long, and there are issues of confidentiality etc., so the reality is they will occupy you with general tasks that need to be done. Try and use the opportunity to see how the place works and to ask questions. They may have training material for pharmacy assistants that you could look at which will help you broaden your knowledge if you ask. This would be useful if you want to draw on the experience in a personal statement/interview later.
Reply 2
Original post by marple
You're not experienced, trained or qualified, you will not be with the for very long, and there are issues of confidentiality etc., so the reality is they will occupy you with general tasks that need to be done. Try and use the opportunity to see how the place works and to ask questions. They may have training material for pharmacy assistants that you could look at which will help you broaden your knowledge if you ask. This would be useful if you want to draw on the experience in a personal statement/interview later.

Yes, I completley understand that but it is frustrating since they agreed to offer me work experience and yet have given me no chance to even shadow the pharmacist, and haven't even discussed any specific drugs and their uses. If I were to honestly reflect on this work experience i'd say I've have gained and learnt nothing out of it so far, but I still have two days to go. I just want someone to possibly inform me on what I should ideally be taking away from this work experience.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Mary hall
Yes, I completley understand that but it is frustrating since they agreed to offer me work experience and yet have given me no chance to even shadow the pharmacist, and haven't even discussed any specific drugs and their uses. If I were to honestly reflect on this work experience i'd say I'v have gained and learnt nothing out of it so far, but I still have two days to go. I just want someone to possibly inform me on what I should ideally be taking away from this work experience.

Be more proactive then, and ask to shadow the chemist! Arrange a time to do this - don't just wait for them to offer. Rather than focus on what you feel you're not being offered, it would help you to spend time focussing on what you can pick up - what you see, and what you hear. Pharmacy isn't medicine, and you're not going to be doing in depth clinical pharmacology, but you should be able to see what the day-to-day life of a chemist is, what jobs they seem to spend much time doing, how they interact with patients and what role they place in the NHS with regards to primary care. How have the chemists dealt with walk-in minor illness cases, like colds, sprains and strains etc - what can they offer, and how do you think their job interrelates with a GP?

There is lots to learn - you just need to be more open to learning from the things going on around you, even if they seem mundane or pointless.
What are you doing this work experience for? Is this part of the work experience often done during school or a pharmacy degree?

You cannot dispense medication until you have commenced, or are in the process of commencing, a pharmacy qualification (Like NVQs) I think? This may be specific to my workplace, however. Regardless, you have the ability to observe, which can be greatly rewarding. By observing, you can get a greater picture of what working in this role might be like. Ask your colleagues and pharmacist questions (if they are not busy) about the medications, the different types of prescriptions, etc. and you will learn more than you think (: If you have time, reading patient information leaflets can be interesting as they will tell you the uses of the drug, contraindications, basic mechanisms, etc.

When I started my job in pharmacy it was a bit dull, similar to what you're describing, but it was purely down to the fact that I wasn't trained to do anything yet and training does take a while and isn't something that can be done in a day, unfortunately. I spent a lot of time just trying to watch what people were doing and asking why they were doing it.

If you are considering pharmacy as a future job I will say there's a lot more to it than stacking shelves!!!
May I ask what year you are in, and was it a chain chemist or an independent?

What you are seeing though is the daily life in a community pharmacy. It is a retail business with an added service of doing prescriptions, selling and advising on the use of over the counter medicines, and offering medical advise to anyone who asks to speak to you, and depending on what the pharmacy has signed up for; doing extra services like providing the morning-after pill, or supplying medicine on the minor ailments scheme.

As you have already noticed it is a rather mundane, repetitive, dull job! What you see, and what I have mentioned above is basically the daily life in a community/retail pharmacy. I would look at, or if ended, reflect back on how customers and patients are. Some can be very rude. Many people still don't know it takes a university degree and 5 yrs of training to become a pharmacist. A lot of the public just perceive you as a shop assistant. Although this is slowly changing.

One thing I feel I should mention, is that two thirds of pharmacy graduates end up in retail pharmacy. I found it incredibly boring as a pharmacy student, and then as a newly qualified, the novelty soon wore off. It was only doing continuing education and reading journals that kept me going the first ten yrs, until some services were introduced. Then you feel you are using your knowledge a bit more, and you can get a good feeling helping people. It is possible to build up a very good reputation if you were to take on a permanent post. And word spreads, and you start to get lots more people wanting to talk to you, which can make the day pass quicker and make it more interesting. Especially now seeing a GP in some areas can take days.

You absolutely need to be a people person, and have an interest in them and their every-day lives, as lifestyle has a big effect on the body, and hence what kind of medication they will need.

Please do reply after reading this, and let us know how it all went, and your final thoughts and impressions of a career in retail pharmacy.
Discover a career in Pharmacy - University of Bath careers webinar 17 May - .https://www.bath.ac.uk/campaigns/discover-a-career-in-pharmacy-at-bath/
Original post by Mary hall
Yes, I completley understand that but it is frustrating since they agreed to offer me work experience and yet have given me no chance to even shadow the pharmacist, and haven't even discussed any specific drugs and their uses. If I were to honestly reflect on this work experience i'd say I've have gained and learnt nothing out of it so far, but I still have two days to go. I just want someone to possibly inform me on what I should ideally be taking away from this work experience.


Mary, did you manage to finish your work experience and reflect on how it went, and if your opinion of retail pharmacy has changed after my brief description of it, and your time there?
Unis do not require specific work-experience for MPharm.
They want evidence of 'people skills' - but you can get that volunteering in a charity shop or captaining your school football team.
What they want more than anything is PS evidence an understanding of both the role and the way pharmacists work as part of the larger NHS.

Hospital Pharmacist - https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/hospital-pharmacist
Community Pharmacist - https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/community-pharmacist
NHS job search - for useful examples of where pharmacists work - https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/
Original post by McGinger
Unis do not require specific work-experience for MPharm.
They want evidence of 'people skills' - but you can get that volunteering in a charity shop or captaining your school football team.
What they want more than anything is PS evidence an understanding of both the role and the way pharmacists work as part of the larger NHS.

Hospital Pharmacist - https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/hospital-pharmacist
Community Pharmacist - https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/community-pharmacist
NHS job search - for useful examples of where pharmacists work - https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/


That's an interesting point you have literally highlighted! Is that all 30 schools of pharmacy?
I wonder if Medicine is the same? Would I get an offer if I had never set foot in a GP surgery or hospital ward but had worked in Oxfam on a Saturday afternoon? Perhaps could offer some advice here? (sorry to bother you).

Personally, I would like to see what I am spending £37k, and 5 yrs of my life on, before I take the plunge.

I wonder if a lack of work experience contributes to many young pharmacists being unhappy. I recall the GPhC had to issue advice to university admission departments to paint a more realistic picture for undergraduates as it seemed some of them skimmed over the bit that roughly two-thirds of them would end up in retail/community pharmacy.
Original post by Mary hall
I'm currently doing some work experience at a pharmacy and I am on my break right now and all i've really done is stack shelves, rearrange items and help one man count his change. Is this normal for me to do for work experience in a pharmacy? I'm not really learning anything and have done everything independantly. The pharmacist (manager) didn't even talk to me once. The only person really talking to me is the cashier. I thought work experience at a pharmacy would be more medical, I might aswell have done work experience in a supermarket! Or is this all because of covid that they are unable to give me any sort of hands on job, more releated to pharmacy.

Hi! How did u actually manage to get work experience im struggling so much and no one is getting back to me
Original post by Idkwhattopick

Hi! How did u actually manage to get work experience im struggling so much and no one is getting back to me


Phone up/ turn up in person.

Quick Reply

Latest