Friday, 7 November 2008

Pharmacy pre-registration troubles

During the 3rd year in pharmacy, we are bombarded with the fact that we need to prepare to apply to various pharmacies at the end of the year for a pre-registration placement. If we have an eye on certain pharmacies, we might have to think about it even earlier as they require you to do a 3rd year placement in order to qualify for a pre-reg. And if a place couldn't be secured before the start of 4th year, we would need to worry about it when term starts as well.

I, for one, did not have much trouble with securing a placement, and I am thankful that I did and do not need to go through what my friends are going through. Take a friend of mine for example (let’s call her R), who has gone through a bit of tough times just to get the placement that she is finally happy with.

R did a 3rd year placement with X pharmacy, which was a pre-requisite for a pre-reg. When she applied for her 3rd year placement location, she did not realize that the pharmacies in the northern region actually bonded a pre-registration student for 2 years – meaning the pre-reg year plus one year as a qualified pharmacist. If you were going to break that bond, you had to pay a huge sum of money. She had her own reasons for not wanting to be bonded, so started searching for alternate arrangements by asking for advice from the university tutors, who were happy to help her in trying to find a new location.

About a month ago, she had an offer from Z pharmacy, which she had gone for an interview for during the summer (yea, long time ago), and thinking that she could not get a better location with X pharmacy, she verbally accepted the offer, not knowing what will happen next.

R heard back from X pharmacy, offering her a location that she was happy with. Whilst comparing X and Z pharmacy, she found that X was more attractive and rejected Z though email, and thought nothing more about it.

She got a call from Z pharmacy early in the morning, asking her why was she rejecting their offer. Being too honest, she told them that she had another offer from another company, with better conditions than Z. The caller from Z (let’s call her T) then said that they can still negotiate for better conditions, but R stressed that she really was rejecting their offer.

As it is too long to repeat what was being said in their conversation, I’ve decided to extract and edit what R had wrote in her blog (I feel that it’s better than she remain anonymous so excuse me if I do not put her blog address in). Below in blue is what was being discussed and in red is R’s explanation of what really happened. (“She” in the extract is T, and “I” is R)

She said I had been unprofessional because they actually sent me two offer letters since September but I took long time to reply their offer.

This isn't true because Z Pharmacy had only made an offer to me recently. I was on hold since August .

She said there were actually two offer letters but first offer letter was lost on its way. After a second check, she found out the offer was made on 10/10/2008.

T then changed topics and she said since an offer had been made on 10/10/2008, why did I take so long time to reply?

I said I had only received offer letter from them after two weeks, which was on 28/10/2008. I received offer from another company (X) after I had received offer letter from them. I took about two weeks to reply them because I needed time to make my decision. (She later found out that she only had the letter for 8 days.)


I replied her saying that I think I have the right to make decision in two weeks. Even for first round candidates, RPSGB also mentioned that they must given enough time to decide, how come I can't have that TWO WEEKS?

Fact: There wasn’t a reply-by date stated on the offer letter.

She said because of me they had to turn down other candidates.

I explain to her that I was told by her manager that the place I was offered to already have enough students and my offer was by special arrangement. So, I had taken it for granted that no other candidates are waiting for my post.

That phone conversation ruined her whole day. Imagine waking up to a call like that. She was also told that she was being unprofessional and a complaint would be submitted to the university about her. She again went for advice from her tutor and staff in the school and was told that they would support her and that Z pharmacy had no grounds to do anything to her, but to email them regarding what had happen so a response could be given if and when a complaint letter was submitted.

I would not say that my friend was totally blame-free. She was being a tad unprofessional by verbally accepting and then rejecting Z pharmacy but I would say this is due to naivety about how the world is. How can it be that they expect students who are in their last year of pharmacy, to know all about the working environment? This just discourages students when they think about having to work soon.

The caller from Z, was being unprofessional herself when she made groundless accusations. She should’ve gotten all her fact right before accusing someone else of being unprofessional.

I would like to commend the School of Pharmacy for standing by their own students first and in helping R a lot in her decisions.

Several things to take from this situation:

  1. Do not give a verbal agreement if you are not sure. Tell them, “Thank you very much for the offer, but I would like several days to consider this offer.” I, for one, was very lucky as my future employer told me to go back and think about it first.
  2. Be sure that you are happy with any decision you are going to make.
  3. Be sure that you are able to back up your decision with valid reasons and that you can stand firm in your decision even when faced with accusations (especially when those accusations are false). This is something you would have to do when you are working.

I wish everyone the best in their applications for a pre-registration placement and may what I have told you help you in what not to do when applying. It is good to keep options open but do not respond in the affirmative when you are not sure about it.


Jean said...

Thanks for the insight.

ven said...

Let me guess, your friend there will be just like you, someone who had not been in the UK for more than a year right?

In the UK, verbal agreement is also legally binding so breaking it will be a breach. The company can actually take legal action against your friend if they bother to take the trouble.

Anyway, if it's just in terms of location, you can always negotiate. I did in my scenario too.

P.S. company Z is said to have a good training scheme anyway.

~em~ said...

hey ven.. yea.. we're just in our 2nd yr..

u guessed wat company Z is? hahaha

ven said...

There's only one company that will sign a 2 year contract with anyone in the North. It's not that hard to guess.

~em~ said...

ic ic... i wouldn't know since i've abandoned community and joined hospital.. haha

huixin said...

wow...u wrote such a long post for this incident!!!