Monday, September 13, 2010

The Interviews

I had two of my hospital pharmacy pre-registration interviews today and so I have decided to do a little blog post with advice that may help other pharmacy students who want to do hospital.

1st and 2nd years: Get "The Pre-registration Interview" by Nadia Bukhari and read it. Applying for pre-reg will seem so far away now but before you know it, there you are in your third year applying for pre-reg places. The book also has advice and information on applying for summer placements so there is something in there relevant to you now. Do apply for summer placements in community, hospital and industry, as it demonstrates you are willing to get out there and show you are enthusiastic.

3rd years: Get "The Pre-registration Interview" by Nadia Bukhari and read it, and that's an order. This is a book for every pre-reg interview whether it be community, hospital or industry. Read it quite early on in the year as it includes quite a bit about the application process, the interview itself and an ever helpful question bank. I have owned this book since last year and only read it when I came to apply for hospital and I realised straight away how much more useful it would have been had I opened it sooner.

The application: Speak to other pharmacy students, current pre-reg's and anyone you can about the application questions, they may say something which sparks an idea for one of your answers.

Some of this years questions were to give examples of a time when you

a) Worked in a team
b) Showed organisational skills
c) Demonstrated professionalism

Out of them all I found the professionalism one the hardest, as although I knew what qualities were professional I found it difficult to come up with an answer that didn't make me sound like a five year old. That is, until I spoke to a friend who reminded me of a dispensing error I had dealt with over my summer placement. So speaking to others is really worthwhile.

Once you have completed your application, check it through for spelling and grammar errors. Pass it onto someone else to check your check on spelling and grammar. Pass it onto another pharmacy student/pre-reg to check the content. Don't be afraid to ask for help, after all the application is the gateway to getting an interview.

Also be aware of the deadlines particularly for hospital, although the main deadline for applications is at the end of August, academic referee details must be submitted in June.

The interview: The dreaded day. I wont lie, it is scary, and the interviewers know that, so just try to appear cool and collected even if inside you are petrified.

Sometimes you may be given a test, at one of my interviews I was given 15 minutes to check a drugs chart for any points of concern, the main one of which was the fact that the patient had a penicillin allergy and had been prescribed co-amoxiclav. I also picked up that the patient was being given simvastatin in the morning when it is more effective at night.

The pre-reg interview book has some good questions so have a go at preparing some answers in advance, but also try to expect the unexpected. Don't try to memorise answers word for word, just remember the principles and explain it in whichever words that come to you. Here's some examples of the questions I was asked.

* What made you choose to do pharmacy?

* Why do you want to do hospital pharmacy? Particularly as you seem to have a great deal of community and industry experience but not much in hospital. (Yes, I committed the cardinal sin of not applying for a hospital summer placement, so please even if you aren't considering doing hospital do at least one hospital summer placement)

* Tell me a little about yourself.

* How has your pharmacy degree prepared you for the pre-registration year?

* What skills can you bring to the hospital? (for this one I added a little humour, after listing my good qualities I mentioned the fact that I made excellent brownies, which seemed to go down well with the interviewers)

* What are the roles of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in the hospital?

* Describe the role of a clinical pharmacist.

* What is the NPSA and what do they do? (I didn't know this one and had to admit so, and once they explained - National Patient Safety Agency and they issue safety alerts - I realised I did know about them and said, so they asked me a follow up question on whether I could remember any of the alerts I had seen)

* What is medicines reconcilliation?

* What medication would you expect a patient with heart failure to be on?

* Tell me about a drug you have recently studied.

* Do you read the PJ? Tell me about an article you have recently read.

At the end of the interview you will be asked if you have any questions, do have questions prepared as it shows you have thought about the role, but try not to ask questions about terms and conditions, salary, general course layout. I asked two questions the first of which was about the shift of the organisation of the pre-registration year from the Royal Society to the GPhC and whether there would be any changes as a result. The second was about the current economic climate and whether there'd be availability of band 6 posts at the hospital. The second gives the impression that you are looking to stay on at the hospital after your pre-reg which is good to give as hospitals like to keep hold of their pre-reg students as they have invested into their training and know the level they are at.

I know interviews are still ongoing, I myself have my last interview tomorrow so I may update this post with any extra questions I get asked then. So if anyone is reading this who is about to go for interview, best of luck, and most importantly, don't panic!


Mosher said...

Wow - you're still alove! All I get from you usually are tweets of your horoscope every morning...

Lola Cherry Cola said...

Yes, I'm alive and extraordinarily lazy, oops!

Mosher said...

And cute :-p

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