I’ve been MIA for a few months now, and that’s purely because life happened and other things have taken greater priority over blogging, and to be honest that has sucked. Alas, I am back and there’s no better way to update you guys with a blog post on the CPPE Foundation Programme which I’ve been undertaking for the past year, which finishes at the end of this month. The programme itself is mainly distance learning mapped to the RPS Framework (aimed for those who are newly qualified or those who are returning back to practice after a break), but it does have face-to-face components; mainly the work based assessment. So this post here is going to talk you through the work-based assessments and my experiences undertaking them.
My first DOPs (Direct Observation of Practice) happened to be in the capacity of a locum working at a community pharmacy, where I had done one shift prior to the assessment itself. Initially, one of the things I found really daunting about being a pharmacist is the prospect of being a manager. No better way of testing my managerial skills than having my tutor assess them whilst working as a locum. I say that, I was so nervous a part of me kinda hoped he didn’t turn up. The word assessment and having someone observe you is actually unnerving. Initially it was so uncomfortable for me, because it was so quiet and I was very conscious a few meters away was my tutor and his clipboard. That didn’t last long, suddenly we had a flurry of people and that’s when the maestro in came out to play and I just forgot he was there and managed the queue of prescriptions and the people wanting to speak to me and other pharmacist duties. Overall, it was a largely an uncomfortable experience but it was one which had fruitful rewards with lots positive praise and constructive comments to reflect on.
The second assessment was an observation of my consultation skills this was seen though observation of an MUR. This happened to take place in a store I had never worked before as a locum, so I’m quite lucky I managed to find a patient who was willing to have my tutor observe me, and a store that was happy to accommodate this. The process itself was fine, I got so engrossed in my patients consultation it became easy to ignore my tutor and his clipboard in the background. During my undergraduate years and as a Pre-Reg no-one had ever taken me into observe an MUR so it was a huge relief to get positive feedback on my consultation skills considering I never really had anything to compare it to. My improvements to make were in the realm of getting thrown curveball questions and knowing how to deal with them. It’s so habitual as a pharmacist to want to help and to want to solve everything. It’s as equally important to know your limits and know who to refer to, and provide this information in a timely manner.
Part of the work-based assessments also involve a Case Based Discussion, which I found quite difficult initially. Do I help patients with regards to their pharmaceutical care plan? 100%. When asked okay so talk to me about something you’ve done, my mind went blank. As pharmacists this is something we do on a daily basis and most of the time you make that intervention and then you’re off doing the next task, whether it’s speaking to a patient, checking prescriptions or providing services. There’s never much time to reflect and analyse what your actions were and its effects, as you feel like you’re fighting fires throughout the day. However, I did manage to gather some brain cells and ended up with two case based discussions that I spoke about – one about switching antidepressants for a patient who was not able to swallow tablets, and another about a high dose of antidepressants in the elderly. As a locum, it becomes very much difficult to follow up a patient if you’re not there regularly, but this is something I’m managing to partake in more as I’m store based part time.
The second DOPs I had was pretty soon after I had become store based and I thought it would be good to have my managerial skills assessed, again. I was really looking forward to this observation, unlike the first time, as I wasn’t dreading the experience. I was open to feedback, especially the negative because sometimes it takes an outsider to point stuff out that’s staring you right in the face. For me personally, I’m always more than happy when it comes to helping others, including my staff. The feedback that I got as a result of the observation gave me a better insight that I probably should look to re-evaluate the skill set and training of the staff, and take the wider work load into consideration.
My final DOPs took place the other week and that was on on practical skills and mine was administering flu jabs. Getting me to the point of administering flu jabs was a journey in its own right. The whole concept of inserting a needle into someone and causing them pain was a huge mental barrier for me. Other than doing the mandatory training, I actually went and got a fellow Pharmacist to actually undergo a consultation with myself and administer the flu jab, which helped me gage how I should structure my consultations. When it came to my DOP’s it was Day 3 of me administering flu vaccines and I got my Saturday Counter Assistant to come in to be my observed flu vaccine. I also happened to have a walk in flu patient just as she arrived; so one became two back to back observed vaccinations. It is a little unsettling having someone else in the consultation room, observing your practical skills, but no way near how nervous I was for my first DOPs. It’s also good to ask your tutor what they need to see so you can arrange the patient, yourself, the sharps bin and your tutor accordingly (basically a small game of musical chairs). The feedback was so positive, I was actually in shock! To think I had lost sleep over administering flu jabs and my tutors response was ‘continue providing an excellent service’ – I was lost for words!
The work-based assessments is what I personally found most enriching about the course. As an early careers pharmacist, even though I have no idea what role I’m going to pursue next, I am more confident in my own skills as a pharmacist and I have the knowledge that I could transfer these into other roles should I wish to. I feel incredibly privileged that I got to undergo this programme and meet my tutor who has become more of a mentor, in my early years as a pharmacist. To anyone out there who is newly qualified I would 100% recommend undertaking this programme, the skills that you build upon are transferable and you can take them elsewhere – something very key considering your Pre-Reg may have been in one setting but the sectors you go into work in the future may be in another. As for my next post, well I aim to finish off the programme by the end of this month, so fingers crossed for next month and a new post…
Until next time,
The Pintsized Pharmacist