In this next instalment of our Meet the Professionals series, we met up with Raeesa Taniya and Sanjida Faiza, two recent MPharm graduates who are currently working in the world of locum pharmacy. Below, they speak to us about how the university helped them to become the pharmacists they are today and Sanjida opens up about the difficulties of studying and working whilst having athletic aspirations at the same time…
I really enjoyed my time at Manchester. It was the first time that had actually left my hometown but I learnt a lot about life and myself. The pharmacy course is really tough but I now realise why they make it so hard because it prepares you for the real world.
My career hasn’t gone as I expected it to so far. I did my pre-reg year at an independent pharmacy, it was close to home and it was really busy but I enjoyed the fact that it was really close to my house. This also made it easier to revise because I no longer had that time out where I was travelling back and forth between Bolton and Manchester.
Once I qualified I went into locuming, which is where you go and work at different pharmacies and companies, just because I wanted to experience what else was out there because I hadn’t really worked for bigger companies before.
Currently, I’m working as a Locum Manager where I manage the daily running of a branch. I have to make sure the patients are getting the correct medication, make sure that their prescriptions are there, make sure that I’m practising in a safe manner, make sure that I don’t make any errors that could cause harm to anyone, and make sure that I’m there to support my patients with anything they need whether that’s medically or personally. My job basically covers everything you’d expect from a manager of a branch and I really enjoy the job.
How did the university help prepare you for the job
As part of the course, we did a lot of work on communication and counselling which has helped me a lot when it has come to speaking to patients. We don’t use medical language which allows us to discuss things in a way that they’ll understand, and we also know how to motivate them to take their medication. It’s just little things like that which we picked up during the course which has really helped. We know the background knowledge on the medications but it’s vital that we know to communicate with our patients. During these modules we probably wondered why we were spending time at university learning about communication methods and counselling, however, it’s been made clear to me in this job why it was so important that we did learn those things.
Currently, I’m still enrolled at the university doing a couple of CPD courses that they offer here. My future plan is to do the independent prescribing course – you have to be two years qualified to do that so I’ll be doing that next year hopefully and from there onwards I’ll just see where my career takes me!
Enjoy it. They are going to be the best four years of your life and they fly by so make the most of it.
I loved my time at university, I’d come back in a heartbeat! My aim was to get as much out of it as possible, not just academically but I also wanted to experience the social side, the volunteering and the charity side too. In addition to that, I’m also an athlete too so I wanted to fulfil my aspirations within that side of my life too.
Juggling taekwondo with studying
As mentioned earlier I’m an athlete and the sport I compete in his taekwondo. Juggling that and studying was always going to be challenging and I found the first few weeks in particular really difficult because I couldn’t get to grips with how I was going to find time to do everything.
As time went on, my lectures and academic tutors became really really helpful and I started training in between lectures, and before and after uni. They were brilliant because they were always there for me if I needed extra help and didn’t hold it against me if I came to them needing something to be explained if I missed something due to training.
Since graduating I have gone on to become a Locum Community Pharmacist. The reason why I chose to go down this route was because I wanted to have the flexibility to train at the same time. I initially got offered a job at Lloyd’s pharmacy but I had to turn it down because they didn’t offer me that same flexibility and I do have aspirations in Taekwondo. At the moment I have the best of both worlds!
I’m currently preparing for the nationals at the moment and I’m hoping to medal there. I’m also looking to train abroad at the moment with the ultimate aim being to compete in the Olympic Games, probably not in 2020 but hopefully 2024 in Los Angeles.
Once I’ve retired from competing I’m hoping to actually merge my sporting interests with pharmacy and go in to the anti-doping industry.
Being an athlete and studying at the same time can be done with the right support. If you’re struggling with it then ask for help because there are people at the University of Manchester who are there to help and they will help you through the tough times.