Moving to the UK as a European Pharmacist – Daniel, Foteini and Raquel’s story
Meet Daniel, Raquel and Foteini, three of our Boots Pharmacists who moved to the UK and joined us on our Support to Practice programme. Here they share their journeys and the support and challenges they faced along the way to becoming a UK Pharmacist
Tell us about your experience throughout the Boots Pharmacy Support to Practice Programme?
I’m proud to say that I’ve been working for Boots in Bristol for two years now and it’s been a great decision. It wasn’t an easy decision at first as I had to overcome lots of fears, the biggest of which was the language but I did a lot of research and I found that the pharmacy environment in the UK is quite broad with many career progression routes meaning that you can go from being a Community Pharmacist to an Independent Prescriber and much more. This was great for me as I wanted to broaden my horizons and be part of a bigger pharmaceutical community!
When I first joined Boots, I was offered a three-month induction period where I got to work alongside an experienced Pharmacist tutor who helped me to adapt to UK pharmacy regulations, standard operating procedures and company policies. This enabled me to feel confident when I started in my first role as a responsible store-based Pharmacist at the end of my training period. Since then, I’ve trained to deliver multiple services and vaccinations and I now work in the heart of Bristol in a multilingual pharmacy!
I had a great start with my Support to Practice Programme. I was assigned to an experienced tutor, Rob who taught me everything I needed to know in a very short time. He supported me in daily activities, challenging me to promote my development. In addition to shadowing him, Boots provided me with different digital learning to test my knowledge and deepen what I knew about their healthcare system and regulations. I felt very supported and by the time I was done with the programme, I was confident to go on my way and be the Responsible Pharmacist.
I always enjoyed new challenges and when I was first contacted by the Boots Recruitment Team about an opportunity in Scotland, I thought it was a good idea! Scotland was always a country that fascinated me. The history, beautiful landscapes, astonishing nature and friendly people.
Also, I was excited about learning the Scottish practice, differences in medications, pharmaceutical regulation, new procedures and laws, and the role of the Pharmacist in Scotland. I felt that I could improve my skills and develop further my knowledge. The Boots team members were very helpful in all stages, giving me all the support, care, and guidance that I needed.
When I first arrived, I started the Boots Support to Practice Programme which helped me have my first contact in Scotland, particularly in terms of legislation and understanding what was expected from me as a Pharmacist. I had plenty of time to study while I was integrated with the Pharmacy team that taught and supported me on my path.
What was the biggest challenge transitioning to a UK Pharmacist?
The biggest challenge I faced was when I started working as a Responsible Pharmacist for the first time. Knowing that I had a good team by my side, and I knew who to call if any questions arise made me feel comfortable and confident about my role and duties.
The biggest challenge of transitioning to a UK pharmacist was having to do a whole new set of tasks which I was never asked to do in my country. At the same time, it is also what makes the job so exciting! You will be doing a lot of different types of activities every day, some of them did not even exist in my country. You will not be just checking prescriptions, medications, you will also be offering different types of services, learning new things every day, and always trying to make your team and store shine! There is a whole lot more to the job than words can describe.
How has the Boots Support to Practice programme helped your development to become a UK Pharmacist?
The Support to Practice programme has helped me in boosting confidence to perform a new set of tasks and skills that the job required. It guides you step by step, there is a set of documents you must go through every week, and you have the chance to ask your tutor questions about them at any time. The documents you will read are specifically written for you, thus, the explanation is very clear, assuming you have never heard of a topic.
They consider you come from a different country and that things might be entirely different for you here. Having the chance to shadow someone for three months will give you all the necessary knowledge to embark on this adventure on your own, do not be afraid to ask questions during your programme, those three months will be a delight and you will be very grateful to Boots for letting you have this!
What advice would you give to someone moving to the UK as a Pharmacist?
What I would say to other European Pharmacists thinking about moving to the UK is that it is a good opportunity to learn new things, develop our careers, and make a difference in people’s lives since our focus is always to deliver the best patient healthcare. It’s easy to settle in, there are plenty of people keen to guide us along all steps of the process, and I always felt supported. It’s been a really good experience!
Last year I was nominated for two awards in the Boots Best of the Best awards and I won Best Pharmacist in the Bristol area so things are going well! My advice to all European Pharmacists thinking about a move to the UK would be to overcome your fears, join us and give the best of yourself and Boots will reward you with a great professional career.
The piece of advice I would give to someone moving to the UK is to be calm, not to stress about changing everything and not to fear having to learn about something different and new. It is like a big puzzle. At first, you will feel like you cannot even find the pieces where to start but give yourself time and things will certainly start to make sense. You will be assigned to someone experienced, and you are not the first person ever moving to the UK. If other people have done it before you, it means you can do it too!
Another piece of advice I would give is not to worry about restarting your social life from zero. I have found delightful people in the workplace and outside of it, to the point that I love my team and I am incredibly happy to work with them, and we often hang out all together!