While Waiting for My PRP…
Four years of pharmacy school – full of joy, tears, sweat, blood and sleepless nights. Sounds tough but it’s finally over with a new life journey ahead. As a pharmacy graduate, the next step is to become a pre-registered pharmacist aka PRP. Thanks to the liberalisation program, some of us can undertake our PRP training in the private sector besides in a government hospital/clinic. Whether you’re waiting to be called for interviews by companies or retail pharmacies or that ‘email’ that signifies it’s time to choose your posting in a government hospital/clinic, the waiting period can be as short as two months or up to six months.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has lowered fresh graduates’ employability rate. This recession resulted in delayed PRP intakes in both the government sector as well as private.
The wait could be up to one year this time around so fresh graduates should find alternatives to make full use of their time as a pre-PRP. Let’s explore what was and can be done by fellow pre-PRPs during this waiting period.
1. Get a temporary job
Some of us opt to work temporarily either in retail pharmacies, companies or private hospitals. Other than gaining some ‘ka-ching’, other benefits include gaining interpersonal skills, broadening professional network and best of all, refreshing what we have learnt in pharmacy school and applying it in real scenarios.
“I did a 3-months internship with Pfizer while waiting for my PRP. Overall, it was a great experience and exposure to the corporate working environment which is something I might consider pursuing in the future. During the MCO, I had to work from home. A new experience for me as I can save my commuting time and build up my self-discipline during work and avoid distractions at home. Though I’m not a frontliner, my job to ensure continuous supply of medicine in the market was an indirect contribution to patients continuing to get their medicines without disruption during this pandemic.”
Sally Ng, MPS-YPC Marketing & Publicity Associate, Monash University, Graduated since Dec’19
“ I’ve been working in a community pharmacy after graduating from Monash while waiting for my PRP posting. Frankly speaking, I did not expect the waiting period for my posting to be longer than 5 months. However, due to COVID-19, everything got postponed. I would say that it was an interesting experience for the past 5 months. . Everyday, I get to meet different people seeking help, mainly for minor ailments and occasionally, wound care. I get to practice my analysing and counselling skills along the way as well. Guess it was a blessing in disguise that I get to take baby steps, polish my skills before entering the real warzone 😀 .”
PeiQi, Monash University, Graduated since Dec’19
“I graduated 10 months ago and my PRP intake was supposedly in April but unfortunately, COVID-19 happened. I decided to do a part-time job at Health Metrics, joining them in November. I have met so many wonderful friends over there who made me feel like I was a part of their company. It was definitely a very fun and chill working experience as they have a very good learning curve and I was constantly surrounded by people who wouldn’t hesitate to give a helping hand.”
Revethi Chandran, MPS-YPC Marketing & Publicity Associate, Taylor’s University, Graduated since Aug’19
It goes without saying that once you enter the workforce full-time, any me-time will be scarce. So, this is the best opportunity to seize when you have unlimited time to self-discover, expand your horizons and create unforgettable memories.
“I discovered my passion for photography during my first overseas trip with my friends. Before I started my PRP, I decided to travel and do the thing I love, photography. Because one thing I know for sure, once I start working, I would not have the time to travel as frequently as I used to. I’m actually a travel photographer, so some of the trips were sponsored by hotels and tourism boards. For the first few months, I traveled to Europe, China and South Korea. Right after I came back from my trip, MCO was implemented. Supposedly, I had to go to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to work with two hotels there but we had to cancel it. Instead, I decided to focus on my social media, create shots from home and improve my photography and editing skills during this period.”
Ming Han, PRP in Retail Pharmacy, Monash University, Graduated since Dec’19
3. Venture into hobbies and interest
When you have more time on your hands, this could be the perfect chance to do something you have always wanted to do or something you used to love doing but stopped due to insufficient time. From learning a new language to picking up a new skill of your own interest, this is certainly another way to keep yourself occupied, kill boredom and develop personally.
Milton (in red shirt) and his comrades during the MyPSA NPSC.
“I’m a freelancer in graphic and web design and a part-time manga artist. Besides, I tried learning new skills; dropshipping, FB ads, Print-on-demand, coding. I’ve also joined the MyPSA National Pharmacy Sports Carnival (NPSC) with my juniors and it was the highlight of my 2020 (since nothing else could have happened). During NPSC I fell down during a race so I guess that’s considered an experience, just not a good one HAHA! MCO has affected all of us in different ways, for me it delayed my PRP but I understand it’s all for the greater good and I appreciate all of the frontliners’ efforts.”
Milton Leong, MPS-YPC Creative & Design Associate, Monash University, Graduated since Dec’19
4. Or just chill at home
Yes, it’s great to stay busy and all, but it’s also important to do things that make you happy. Finally, some time to catch up on your much needed sleep, Netflix shows, spending time with your family and friends and doing anything that you missed doing. Ultimately, just chill and relax as once you start working, spare time is going to be rare.
“Like with others, the MCO put my PRP training on hold but I’ve been able to spend more time with my family, which I am grateful for. Since staying at home, I’ve filled my time with art and playing the piano. I also tutored my younger neighbours and have started spending more time in the kitchen with my mother.”
Lavinia Thomas, Taylor’s University, Graduated since Aug’19
5. Managed to start PRP training ASAP
Some of us immediately embarked on PRP training soon after completing finals. Should we envy them that they managed to start their PRP so soon despite this pandemic? Let’s hear from them.
“My PRP journey started one month after my final exams. I already knew my passion for retail pharmacy during my university days, so I did not wait around and started sending out resumes during my final semester. Being a PRP in retail pharmacy has been nothing short of exciting. Apart from medical knowledge, I also gained a lot of knowledge on business management and products. I get to talk to many people on a daily basis and help them to solve their problems which gave me a huge sense of accomplishment.”
Yee Ming, PRP in retail pharmacy, Monash University, Graduated since Dec’19
“I was fortunate enough to be selected for the PRP placement before the pandemic began. That being said, I did not envision my PRP period to begin off in such a manner. I am currently a PRP at a hospital that does not house COVID-19 patients yet the precautions are enforced greatly. Work begins with greeting colleagues in masks everyday followed by constant sanitizing after serving each patient. Ward rounds are restricted and work rotation has to be altered to prevent the transmission of the virus. One would think that this is an unlucky time to be placed for training as the work hazard is at an all time high, but I believe that the experience is invaluable and our duty is greater than the paranoia of catching the virus.”
Kirrthana Kanagarajah, PRP in government hospital, Taylor’s University, Graduated since Aug’19
Looks like our pharmacy graduates have been doing anything and everything, In our opinion, we think that graduates don’t have to feel guilty or crumble under peer pressure. Just do and pursue anything that makes you happy and develop you as a person. Learn something new along the way, regardless if it’s applicable to the pharmacy world because you’ll never know when it may be useful in the future. With that, we wanna thank all the graduates who contributed their thoughts here. To all the pharmacy graduates out there reading this, make the best out of your waiting time and all the best in your PRP life!
The opinions expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the view of MPS YPC.