February 7, 2023, by Mei Kee Lee
Alumni Testimonial – Tan Yee Seng (2016)
Tan Yee Seng (MPharm (Notts), 2016; Pharmacist Independent Prescribing (Uni. of Manchester), 2022) is currently on a career break as of January 2023.
Describe your career path and experience after graduating from the University of Nottingham.
After graduating, I managed to secure a pre-registration pharmacist position in a busy high-street pharmacy in a lovely town called St Albans. Having trained in a high-dispensing volume pharmacy next to a GP practice, I’ve then transitioned to a pharmacy with similar environment in Central London upon qualifying. After 2 years, I took on the role of Pharmacy Manager. Apart my main duty as a Responsible Pharmacist, I’m also responsible for leading, directing, and managing the pharmacy team and pharmacy operations. After another 2 years, I then reduced my hours in community pharmacy to take on another role as a Primary Care Network (PCN) Pharmacist for a few GP practices based in Essex. It is a remote-working role, hence I’m able to work as a community pharmacist and a GP pharmacist at the same time. It gives me a different perspective as a pharmacist as I’m able to see things from different sides of the patient care. I’ve then took a career break since October 2022 to travel and to spend more quality time with my family after years of being away from home.
What made you choose to pursue your degree at University of Nottingham?
It was an easy choice for me as University of Nottingham is ranked among the top in terms of School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Science in UK. In my opinion, it also has one of the best campuses in both Malaysia and UK compared to its counterparts. Where else would you get a campus with such a beautiful lake with ducks? I kid you not, we even used to have cherry blossoms blooming during Springtime both in Malaysia campus (UNMC) and University Park, Nottingham campus.
What did you love most about your student life with MPharm 2+2? May we have a recount of your fondest memory of it?
To date, I would put my university life as the best time of my life. Not only MPharm prepares you for your pharmacy career, it prepares you for life. In my life, there have been a few of experiences that shaped my character and perspective for the better, and this MPharm course is undoubtedly one of those experiences! This course provided me with the essential toolkit to help me grow personally and professionally through case studies, workshops, practice-based simulation, and placements. I particularly liked the opportunity to volunteer during the summer breaks. Projects such as Water4Life taught me life lessons that I don’t get by just attending lectures.
My fondest memory of student life is surprisingly the mundane everyday routine of being a student in UK. Life away from home can be tough, fortunately, I’m blessed with a supportive group of friends. From attending lectures, to cooking for my housemates, training in gym, spending the evening having deep conversations with friends, I enjoyed every bit of it. Of course, having the chance to travel around Europe is a huge bonus!
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your career?
Personally, the most rewarding aspects is to see patients getting better from your advice/ consultations. I feel a great sense of fulfilment when I’m able to make a change in patient’s life. Apart from patients, I’m also glad that I’m able to offer advice to family and friends if needed.
Pharmacy as a career unfortunately can get repetitive – at least from my experience. Over time, many might find that things will get monotonous and dull. It is challenging to keep yourself interested in the job after a while. Even if you do change your workplace (for example, transferring to a different pharmacy), you’ll be mainly doing the same job, to quote a former colleague of mine – ‘same sh*t, different toilet’. In my opinion, it is easy to get stuck in the same position and not progress, not learning anything new. To overcome this, I do try my best to be intentional and reflective about my experience at work.
What is your advice to current or prospective MPharm students?
For prospective MPharm students, pharmacy can be a rewarding career. It provides you with transferable skill to work not only in a clinical setting, but you could also have a wide variety of career opportunities (research, academia, industry etc). It is also a job with stability and mobility as there are always career opportunities everywhere (just look at the number of pharmacies everywhere). Having said that, do not go for pharmacy just for the money or just because you don’t know what to study. You’ll almost definitely be disappointed if you were to do that. Follow your heart, find your niche.
For current MPharm students, you are in good hands. Do your best, enjoy your university life. Pick up a new hobby and learn a new skill if you can, you may not have time to do that once you start working. Don’t stress too much about getting a job, most of us get a decent job after graduating anyway. Don’t plan things too much, things always work out, maybe not the way that you thought, but it will always work out. Good luck!