Sam Macdonald

Quality pharmacy training with a flexible and structured programme

Sam Macdonald is a diploma pharmacist working in South Wales. A graduate from Brighton university, Sam came back home to benefit from the new ‘multi-sector’ pre-registration training programme and to begin his career. Now, coming to the end of his second year in Clinical Pharmacy, Sam explains why he always planned to return to Wales:

“I moved away to Brighton University, to study for my pharmacy degree, as it was an opportunity to discover a new city.  I loved Brighton and thoroughly enjoyed my university experience there. However, I was pleased to come back to Cardiff with my MPharm and excited to start a career here in Wales.

During my integrated pre-registration training year, my timetable was split between hospital, community and primary care pharmacy and I had joint pre-reg tutors in both hospital and community pharmacy. I had a wide variety of unique learning opportunities, in every sector, in supportive environments that encouraged learning and development.

Before the end of my pre-reg year, I had secured my first pharmacist post in a neighbouring Health Board, - a 2-year multi-sector diploma post. These years have focused on developing my clinical knowledge, along with further exams and coursework, under the guidance of experienced mentors and tutors. At the time, I was unsure what direction I wanted to head in, so the beauty of Wales’ multi-sector  training programme is that I continued to have clinical opportunities to manage medicines in GP surgeries and acute hospital environments. 

Training posts like mine are very desirable, as they are fully funded by Welsh Government, through Health Education and Improvement Wales — I feel confident that I’ve received support that I may not have had in other parts of the UK. There are so many perks to training and working in Wales. Trainees receive high quality support from the tutors, and the training programmes are flexible and structured, ensuring that we gain multi-sector experience, which includes working together with many different professionals. There are also lots of new exciting advancements happening across Wales, for example, local to me in South East Wales, a new-build Specialist Critical Care Centre will be receiving patients from Spring 2021, which will provide opportunities for newly qualified pharmacists.

The pre-reg training and the diploma have provided me with all-round experience and I have now been offered a job as a cluster pharmacist working in Caerphilly in the county of Gwent.  I will be working across a cluster of 7 GP surgeries which typically involves reviewing patients on multiple medications, making changes to improve their conditions and quality of life, as well as undertaking appropriate monitoring.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with other professionals alongside support from senior pharmacists and GPs.   

As part of this new job I will also be training to become an independent prescriber later this year. This will teach me how to perform physical examinations on patients and allow me to prescribe medications in a specialist clinical area, likely to be in respiratory conditions such as asthma or COPD.  I’m looking forward to the new challenge the post will bring.

I’m lucky enough to work sociable hours and have plenty of time to relax and focus on doing the things I love, whether it’s taking in the amazing sights on a run, or exploring new restaurants and enjoying the café culture in the city. Everything is on the doorstep here in Cardiff! Coming to South Wales was one of the best decisions I made for my career, and now that I’m here, I can’t ever imagine leaving.”