“There is a path forward whether you pass or fail.”

Scott reflects on his time as a trainee pharmacist and shares tips on how to look after your wellbeing whilst revising for the assessment and when you're a fully qualified pharmacist.

Scott completed his training at Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust and has been a qualified pharmacist at the same trust for 9 months. In this trainee story, he provides useful information and tips to support your wellbeing during the assessment and the transition between trainee pharmacist to responsible pharmacist. 

Without a doubt, the last month or so of the foundation training year is stressful. There is a tricky balance to strike between work, revision, and getting learning outcomes signed off, and there is always a laser focus on getting through that exam.  

Looking after yourself: before the exam 

You might feel like you need to deprioritise your own wellbeing in the blur of things, however, it is so important to give yourself a rest and some time to enjoy yourself. With hindsight, allowing myself to switch off for a few hours a day before bed so that I could get a good night’s sleep was probably one of the best things I did to assure my exam performance.  

Studying with friends can be really beneficial for both your learning and your mental health. Talking through and rationalising your answers to mock questions with peers can help to strengthen your understanding and improve your exam technique. Even if you are easily distracted, studying with others can make sure you get plenty of breaks throughout the day. 

Looking after yourself: after the exam 

My advice once you have sat the exam is simple: don’t discuss the exam with anyone, at least until you have had time to decompress and accept that you have done your best. It might be tempting to ask how people found it and compare answers, but it runs the risk of causing lots of unnecessary stress.  

The weeks between exam day and results day may seem like an eternity but they will fly by faster than you expect. Make sure that you distract yourself with all the good stuff you may have placed on the backburner in the run up to the exam; friends, family, hobbies, holidays, naps.  

Remember that once you have submitted your answers, your exam results are now out of your hands and completely out of your control. Regardless of your result, you should still be proud of the work you have put in and the resilience you have shown. There is a path forward whether you pass or fail.  

Check out Pharmacist Support’s resource on coping with failing the assessment

You might feel like you need to deprioritise your own wellbeing in the blur of things, however, it is so important to give yourself a rest and some time to enjoy yourself.

Looking after yourself: once you register as a pharmacist 

As much as it is a huge achievement, starting out as a newly qualified pharmacist is daunting and it is easy to allow ‘imposter syndrome’ to set in; to feel like you don’t know enough to be in your position, or have enough confidence to make certain decisions when things are outside of the black-and-white we are familiar with. As far as I am aware, there’s no cure for ‘imposter syndrome’ but you can get some comfort from accepting that the people you look up to probably feel the exact same way sometimes.  

Whilst you might sometimes feel quite isolated as a pharmacist, don’t forget that you can always ask for help, whether that is from your own colleagues or from an outside source. For example, you can ask for personal and professional advice from Pharmacist Support, and the Pharmacists’ Defence Association has an Early Careers Network to provide a space to connect with trainees and pharmacists in their first 5 years of their careers.  

Assessment support for trainees

For further guidance and information about getting mentally prepared for the assessment, sign up to our Wellbeing Learning Platform. You'll find lots of free training workshops, including 'How to Get Mentally Prepared for the Assessment'.

Sign up now for free

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