February 3, 2024, by Lee Mei Kee

Experience Sharing: Summer Internship at Tung Shin Hospital

Lim Zhi Yan, currently Year 3 MPharm (Pharmacy) student in the UK


Where did you do your summer internship? How long was it?

As I had already experienced a 2-month internship in community pharmacy during my Year 1 summer break, I decided to seek out a chance to gain insight at either a hospital or industrial internship.

Fortunately, I managed to apply and secure an intern position at Tung Shin Hospital through the email sent by Dr Kok Zhi Yuan. It was a 1-month experiential learning programme facilitated by Mr Lock Bao Xu, a clinical pharmacist at Tung Shin Hospital.


What did it involve?

Throughout the 1-month internship, my job scope included prescription filling and checking, preparing patients’ medicines, and doing simple extemporaneous preparations such as reconstituting antibiotic suspensions and mixing creams.

I had the opportunity to perform tasks in the inpatient pharmacy for the first 2 weeks, then rotate to the outpatient pharmacy for another 2 weeks.

During my time at the inpatient pharmacy, I learnt more about each patients’ medication journey by looking through their patient file and prescribed medicines. Mr Lock has also given me guidance on how to clerk patient cases and how to come up with pharmaceutical care plans using evidence-based medicine. I have also observed on how the pharmacy technicians and pharmacists communicate medication errors and medication change suggestions with the prescribers, which helped me to further realise the importance of good communication skills in a multidisciplinary team. Not only that, this has given me a wider perspective on how pharmacists can optimise medications, especially in regards to antibiotic stewardship. I also performed administrative tasks such as completing dangerous drug registers, which is the equivalent of controlled drug registers in the UK.

As for my time in the outpatient pharmacy, I had to learn to be quick and accurate when filling prescriptions and preparing medicines as there are a lot of patients queuing up to collect their medicines to take home. Since it can get chaotic during busy hours, sometimes there might be picking errors even though the staff has put up precautions like highlighting the different strengths and look-a-like medications. To further minimise opportunities for errors, they have implemented a system where the picked medicines must be double checked by two other people. Thus, through this experience, I have learnt the importance of recording my near misses during packing and coming up with ways to negate these near misses, such as rearranging the look-a-like medicines to be further apart from each other.


What did you find interesting throughout this experience?

One thing I found interesting is the different fields for specialisation available to clinical pharmacists, such as Mr Lock who specialises in wound care. Some other fields for specialisation include oncology, infection control, cardiology, diabetic care and many more. This made me realise the abundance of career pathways available after I graduate.

Another interesting thing is when I had a 1-day attachment at the oncology pharmacy. I had a chance to wear full PPE and enter the aseptic unit, where they prepared the chemotherapy drugs for patient use. The intravenous tubing was primed and the air inside was removed before the cytotoxic drugs are added to the infusion solution. It was very fascinating to see how they reconstitute chemotherapy drugs and the precautions they must take when handling certain cytotoxic agents such as double-gloving and using a laminar flow cabinet during preparation.

How did the summer internship support your learning and future career development?

The best part about this whole experience is that Mr Lock will take time out of his schedule to either discuss about any questions I had regarding my modules in the MPharm syllabus or go over some case studies. I have learnt a lot of clinical knowledge from him, as well as various tips like identifying bacterial infections (ex. Gram positive, Gram negative, anaerobes) and the first-line antibiotics for each of them.

Other than that, this internship has highlighted the difference between learning in lectures and learning through real-life scenarios. This has really helped me to apply my university learning into a real-world context, as well as aided me in identifying blind spots in my studies and ignited my passion for further learning about various clinical topics.

This experience has made me seriously consider being a hospital pharmacist as a future career pathway and deeply appreciate the role of clinical pharmacists in the healthcare field.

What is one take home message you obtain from this experience?

My take home message from this experience is to always keep an open mind in new environments and never give up on continuously improving myself even after I graduate – life-long learning is important for this profession.

The pharmacy field is ever-changing, and so are the clinical guidelines. It is therefore vital to keep up with the latest research, medicines, and evidence-based guidelines so that the best patient-centred care can be delivered.


What is your advice to current or prospective students on signing up for summer internships?

For those that are planning to apply, make sure to prepare your resume or CV ahead of time to avoid missing the application deadlines! Also, don’t be afraid just go for it and apply to whichever industry you are interested in. Internships are very different from learning in lectures, so you’ll definitely learn something worth your while.

For those that are just starting their internship, my advice for getting the most out of your experience: observe your surroundings and what the people are doing, learn whatever you can in the moment and don’t be scared to ask any ‘silly’ questions you have!

Internships are prime learning environment, and you are not expected to know everything, so don’t be too anxious if you encounter things that you are unsure about.

It is a good idea to keep a “learning journal” to document all your learnings, observations, and any questions you have throughout your internship, so that whenever an opportunity arises, you can ask your burning questions or discuss any observations you have with the facilitator of your internship. This will help in your personal reflection of the internship and solidify any new knowledge you have obtained throughout your journey.

Lastly, I wish everyone good luck and may you all have a fruitful internship experience!


Posted in Experience SharingInternshipMPharm