Student Nannies’ Career College : Ten tips to make it in ……..Pharmacy

Written by Student Nannies

In the latest of our series of Career College articles we speak to a Pharmacist….

Janice Craig, 36, Advanced Pharmacist – anticoagulation


1.Tell us a bit about your job, what the average day looks like and what’s involved…

I work in a local hospital, part time 3 days a week, within a small team of pharmacists and several administrators. I am a specialist anticoagulation pharmacist and patients are referred to our team for assessment and starting anticoagulation medication to either prevent stroke associated with a specific type of irregular heart rhythm or treat/prevent leg and/or lung clots. In the Buckinghamshire county, our team is unique in that we are one of the few teams within the hospital that can start these specific medicines (new oral anticoagulants) and all GPs also refer patients to us as per the hospital-primary care agreement for these medicines.

Typically I run an outpatient clinic two days of the week, seeing up to six to eight patients in a day; this can be either face to face or via telephone. Each appointment allows for a 30 minute consultation with the patient but this can often last for up to an hour. The other day is usually spent doing my administrative jobs – writing my clinic letters, dealing with enquiries/issues from our patients/ GP surgeries/hospital doctors. In between all of this I will also see any patients in hospital who need seen or carry out telephone consultations with patients who need to urgently be assessed.

In the near future we will also be seeing patients in some GP surgeries with a variety of other medical conditions, which is an exciting venture to embark on and will test our clinical skills and learning new skills!

No day is the same and you can never predict how a consultation will go!

2. How did you get your first job in this industry and what tips would you give to students for routes in?

During my Pharmacy degree I did several summer placements both in community and hospital pharmacy, which gave me an insight into hospital pharmacy as a future career. I applied for a pre-registration hospital pharmacy placement at several hospitals whilst in my last year at university and was successful at getting a position at Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals. Hospital pre-registration placements can be quite competitive to get and there are a small number of places; consider not just applying to large hospitals but your local hospital too. Try to get some summer experience in hospitals if possible.

3. What one piece of advice would you give to someone/a student wishing to forge a career in Pharmacy?

The role of a pharmacist is continually evolving and even from when I started has advanced significantly. There are numerous opportunities along the way which you should always grab and any skills/experience you learn on these jobs can transfer to your pharmacy career and always look/think forwards.

4. Who was the one person who had the most influence on your career to date?

During my pre-registration year, after I had finished university, I worked with a pharmacist from New Zealand during one of my hospital rotations. She was my line manager for that rotation and she was a phenomenal pharmacist, who had excellent clinical skills, was empathetic and an amazing teacher. I aspired to be like her and ended up going into the same role as her a few years on.

5. Considering all the people you’ve met in your field, what personal attributes are essential for success?

In healthcare you need to be empathetic, approachable and willing to listen to people. Being able to communicate with a wide range of patients and work together with the patient to come up with a treatment plan is essential. Be enthusiastic and curious which will increase your clinical knowledge. You need to be able to work alone effectively but also work in a team setting, which will involve many different types of healthcare professionals. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions, your colleagues will respect you for it!

6. What do you wish you’d known (but didn’t) when you first contemplated this career as a student?

7. What is the best bit of career advice you ever received?

You can apply any life experience/skills learnt elsewhere to your job!

8. What is your career highlight to date?

Too many to say! They would include completing a residency at one of the busiest hospitals in London, registering as a pharmacist in Australia and subsequently working at a large teaching hospital in Sydney and more recently becoming an independent prescriber and seeing my own patients and prescribing for them.

9. What are the best and worst things about your job?

The best thing is definitely the patients; I love the patient contact I have with the job even though we usually only see patients once. The job satisfaction from knowing you have played a small part in hopefully preventing someone having a stroke and prolonging their life is enormous. I am blessed that I also work with a brilliant team and have great support; my boss is also very forward thinking about how to advance our careers and looks out for us all.

The worst thing about the job is probably the administrative side of writing my own letters which can take some time! Patients can also sometimes be quite aggressive (verbally); however we always have to remember that it is the patients going through their journey and it can be frightening/frustrating for them and their family. It can be frustrating and upsetting at times working in the NHS in the current financial pressures and uncertain times; we are extremely lucky to have this system and I feel it is not always appreciated, but the people who work within the NHS continue to make it great!

10. What do you think the industry will look like in the next ten years and what skills do you think graduates will need to stay ahead of the game?

Pharmacy as a profession is continually changing as I have previously mentioned. The department of Health has set out the guidance that Pharmacists need to be more involved in managing long term conditions and this includes more pharmacists becoming independent prescribers and also more pharmacists working in GP surgeries, as part of a multi-disciplinary team. It is long been said by pharmacists that as a profession we are too passive; we definitely need to become more of a presence as part of the multi-discliplinary teams to tackle the issue of long term health conditions in an ever ageing population. Graduates will need to be able to evolve along with the profession!


Janice’s CV


Employment history:

2015  – present: Advanced Pharmacist – Anticoagulation.  Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.


2011 – 2015: Medicines Information Pharmacist.  Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford.


2008 – 2010: Clinical Pharmacist,  St. Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia.


2006 – 2008: Senior Pharmacist, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London.


2005 – 2006: Locum pharmacist, Various locations, Australia.


2004 – 2005: Senior Medicines Information Pharmacist, Charing Cross Hospital, Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, London, UK.  


2003 – 2004: Basic grade Resident Pharmacist, Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, London, UK.  


2002 – 2003: Pre-registration Pharmacist, Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, London, UK.


Academic qualifications:

2015  Practice Certificate in Independent Prescribing, University of Reading, UK

2007 – 2008 Postgraduate diploma in Clinical Pharmacy Practice, awarded a Merit, University of Brighton, UK.  

2003 – 2004 Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Pharmacy Practice.  University of London, UK.

1998 – 2002 Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) 2:1 University of Manchester, UK.

1996 – 1998 3 A-Levels including: Biology, Chemistry and Physics, Aquinas College, Stockport, Manchester.