Gurinder Singh, Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice, is proud to teach the next generation of pharmacists, a position he is all too familiar with as a former student at the University of Reading. Gurinder also works as a Clinical Pharmacist in a GP surgery. He shares his experiences from when he was a student to now as a teacher.
Gurinder Singh had no idea he'd be returning to the University of Reading after completing his MPharm in 2012. But this time he’s standing at the front of the lecture theatre…
Gurinder did not see himself teaching at first; however, academics at Reading who were also practising pharmacists inspired him by demonstrating that there were numerous routes/job roles within Pharmacy.
“When I was at Reading, the academics really opened my eyes on how much I could achieve. That’s why I decided to take this route of becoming a lecturer because I wanted to do the same thing and inspire other students.”
Gurinder is extremely passionate and thankful that he gets to teach the next generation of pharmacists, and can inspire students in the same way that his lecturers at Reading inspired him – many of whom he now works with as colleagues.
“Being able to return to Reading as an employee was a highlight of my career thus far. One of the reasons I returned was to see the same lecturers who taught me still here, in senior positions, and having advanced their careers.”
Gaining work experience
Gurinder has amassed a plethora of experiences throughout his career, beginning when he was a student. He undertook various internships throughout university – not only in pharmacies but also in other opportunities where he developed those all-important life skills. Experience included working in community pharmacies and hospitals, an internship at the Foreign Office studying climate change, and at AimHigher Berkshire, where he spoke to students in local schools to inspire them to pursue higher education – this experience sparked his interest in teaching.
“So, from year one, students are able to attend different placements and decide which kind of pharmacist role appeals to them the most. Academics help students further by sharing their experiences - many academics, like me, practise pharmacy as well as teaching. With this insight, we can guide students and teach them things that are happening in the real world.
It’s a big advantage for students, having lecturers with a variety of backgrounds who actually practice within the field during half their working week.”
Gurinder obtained a range of transferable skills while studying his MPharm at Reading, particularly communication skills developed through the use of simulation suites and placements.
“At Reading, there is a lot of emphasis on communication skills. In pharmacy, the ability to communicate well is an important skill to have because your job is not an office job, it's not a job in which you sit behind a computer. Everything in pharmacy involves having a patient there in front of you.
As a student, we had a lot of practical workshops where we practised communication skills – in small groups as well as larger groups. We got a lot of constructive feedback about what went well and what didn't go well.”
Reading's facilities made this possible by establishing consultation rooms where students could interact with real-life scenarios at pharmacies.
“The facilities are organised to mimic real pharmacies. There are medicines laid out how they would be in a pharmacy so you can practice those skills in a real-life environment. This helps students immensely.”
Gurinder's most memorable moment at Reading was his dissertation, for which he received a first and unwavering support from his supervisor.
“My supervisor gave me so much encouragement so that I could reach new heights. I was allowed to fly as high as I wanted to.
Later I was able to publish blogs in Guardian newspapers. This was all due to my supervisor pushing me and if she hadn’t, I would’ve been happy with just plodding along. You don’t know what you can do unless someone opens that space up for you.”
He draws on his experiences as a student to inform his current understanding and teaching.
“When I see students sit at the back of the lecture theatre, I know what they’re going through. I only sat at the back when I was not confident in answering questions. I can remember the way the academics approached me in my time, now I’m able to approach those students and encourage and support them.”