Living and working in Orkney – Hamza’s story
My name is Hamza Buhari, I am a newly qualified pharmacist working in the Kirkwall store all the way up north in Orkney, Scotland. This is my Boots story.
It all began in 2015, the summer after my second year at university when I had a four-week placement with Boots in Perth. It was my first experience of community pharmacy, and I loved every minute of it. I learnt a lot about medicines and especially enjoyed my conversations with patients. By the end of the placement, I knew I wanted to be a community pharmacist.
The Boots pre-reg programme is designed really well. We had one or two study days every month in Perth (my summer placement store). We discussed a number of highly detailed patient case studies whereupon we would present our recommendations to the whole group and answer any questions they might have. We also practised our calculations in most of the study days. This format not only prepared us for our exam, but also allowed us to practise our leadership and communication skills. We regularly had area managers and other highly experienced guests in the sessions with us. It was great seeing my fellow pre-regs’ frequently. We would share our highlights and challenges together. We had great camaraderie and bonded during the year.
The Boots pre-reg conference was one of the highlights of the year. It was great seeing the support office in Nottingham and meeting pre-regs from all parts of the UK. We were fortunate enough to have some of the leaders of the company share their stories with us, and we were able to ask them for advice. The conference dinner was just amazing.
During my pre-reg, I was offered the opportunity to work in Orkney when I qualified as a pharmacist. The area manager said, “Hamza, I could give you an island”. It was an offer I could not refuse. I was excited at the prospect of living on an island for a year. I did some online research about the island, and the more I found out, the more I wanted to move up there.
My time in Stirling culminated in the opening of a brand-new store.
I qualified as a pharmacist in August 2018 and was delighted to find out I was the youngest pharmacist on the GPHC register at the time. I moved up to Kirkwall, and it has been an absolutely delightful experience so far. The team and local community have welcomed me with open arms. The pharmacists Johan and Nina, and every single member of the pharmacy team have gone out of their way to make me feel settled. I’ve been given rides around the island and invited to try out the rock-climbing, judo, salsa and badminton.
I was also invited to watch a football match and somehow ended up joining the team that won the match (always join the winning team if given the choice!). I soon scored my first goal and a couple of weeks after that, we won the league. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide.
Christmas was fantastic. We had a wonderful Christmas night out with the team and I even wore my traditional Nigerian attire on Christmas Jumper day to keep things exciting.
The Kirkwall Ba. I knew about the Ba before moving up to the island. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be privileged enough to participate in this centuries old football tradition. I was not sure which team I was going to play for; the Uppies or the Doonies, but I was convinced when a veteran of my football club said, “Hamza if you don’t play for the Uppies, I’ll make sure you don’t play a minute of football next season”. Soon thereafter, I joined the Uppies. It was a fantastic decision and I played in both Bas. We won the New Year’s Day Ba and therefore have bragging rights until the next Ba.
I have really enjoyed working for Boots so far. The more I meet new people in the company, the more I feel like I am part of a family. Remember how I said you should always join the winning team when given the chance? Boots is the winning team.
If you would like to find out more about living and working on Orkney, please connect with our recruiter James Reid on LinkedIn.