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Career change, pharmacist to chemistry teacher

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by julietowusu99, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. julietowusu99

    julietowusu99 New commenter

    I am currently a pharmacist, have been qualified for seven years. I’ve been accepted at a university to do chemistry secondary pgce. Are there any other nhs careeer changers who are now teaching?

    I’m also a single mum to 2 children and was wondering how intense the course is for single parents?
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    23 years ago I went to work in a school where a colleague was an NQT who had previously been a nurse. 18 years later and he was the HT. He was a Biologist.
    julietowusu99 and agathamorse like this.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Juliet

    Congratulations on being accepted onto a course for the PGCE.

    I am not a NHS career changer, but just wanted to say the course is intense for everyone even for those without children. If you have two children it will mean that you have to become that bit more organised but if you are working as a pharmacist then you are no stranger to working hard and managing a home with two children.

    If your children are 10+ then perhaps it will be a bit easier for you since they are old enough to be self propelled to some extent: they can help you with age appropriate chores, get ready themselves, do homework while you study etc. If they are younger then it perhaps is more difficult because they need more attention and can't help as much with the chores.

    If you possibly can before the course get yourself organised with child care. Look through the week and see where the days are going to be where you can block time off for work/study while you are at home. If you are in a position to have grandparents or others to help you then perhaps you could ask for some short term additional help until you finish the course.

    Of course you are going to have to feed, clothe, and keep your house clean to a reasonable standard as well. If your children are old enough give them age appropriate chores: emptying the dish drainer/dish washer/ putting their clothes away/making their lunches/tidying up after themselves. You could sit down with them and make a schedule of who has to do what on any given day and post the roster up in the kitchen. If they are old enough speak to them about your plans and how you need their cooperation.

    Do you have a slow cooker? Slow cookers are great - throw everything in one in the morning and when you get home you will have a meal. Your freezer will be your best friend. Cook meals in advance and put them in the freezer so you don't have to cook when you get home. Buy up things in bulk like toilet rolls, soap, shampoo etc so you don't' run out and limit the amount of time you have to spend shopping. Make a list in advance of what you are going to eat every night. Try to have healthy meals but ones that are super easy to make - you just aren't going to have a couple of hours to cook each evening.

    Buy clothes that only need to be taken out of the wash and put on a hanger and they are ready to go. If your children are old enough teach them how to put on a load of clothes and how to take it out of the machine and put clothes on hangers/drier whatever.

    You will have to become an expert in time management and looking at ways you can save time on everything since that is what you will not have enough of.

    If you can write a schedule of when everyone needs to get up/have breakfast/pack lunches/pack bags the night before that will help. You will have to run your household on a strict schedule to make it all work. Try to get everyone to tidy as they go.

    The days will be long and the workload heavy. You won't find the subjects difficult, just the workload and fitting it all in with your home responsibilities.Try to work smarter not harder. May I suggest The Lazy Teacher's Handbook to you. It is filled with advice on how to manage workload whilst not compromising the quality of the work.

    All the best for September, but if you can get yourself super organised before then that should help.
  4. julietowusu99

    julietowusu99 New commenter

    Thanks sounds promising
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. julietowusu99

    julietowusu99 New commenter

    Thanks very detailed and much appreciated. Yes my eldest is 11 so helps out a lot already. Going to get super organised before I start!
    sabrinakat and pepper5 like this.
  6. oHelzo

    oHelzo Occasional commenter

    Hi Julie, I'm also a pharmacist (previously private sector) who did a chemistry PGCE. If it's a few years since you last studied, it's quite a bit to pick up again especially in your non-specialist sciences. But easily done, it does come back. It's also nice to rediscover your long forgotten creative streak that you never get to use at work :)

    However I didn't teach in schools beyond my training year, but went into a training role with the NHS instead. The extra hours in schools simply weren't worth it for the huge drop in pay. Doctors and nurses aren't as much fun as kids to teach, but it pays the bills a lot better and I mostly go home on time.

    Good advice from Pepper5 on how to survive!
  7. julietowusu99

    julietowusu99 New commenter

    Thanks for the response, hopefully subject knowledge won’t be to bad as I’ve been private tutoring students on GCSE maths and science for the past two years. Teaching in the NHS sounds very interesting as well.
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Lots of excellent advice here, for current teachers as well as those thinking about joining the profession. Do I detect a hint of personal experience here?
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  9. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    I almost forgot that I worked in the NHS before I went into teaching. I was a medical physics technician at a big teaching hospital for 7 years. In those days (1970s) you could do this type of job without a degree. I was a bit different from the OP because I left to go to university - no fees, a grant I could live on and benefits during the holidays! After doing a degree in electronics I couldn't face going back to the NHS or going into the electronics industry so I did a PGCE and ended up teaching physics and more latterly DT until I retired this year.
  10. faisalatiq123

    faisalatiq123 New commenter


    I am in the same boat as yourself Julie. I practiced as a pharmacist for 5 years, took a year out and hopefully will be starting PGCE Secondary Chemistry with QTS in September. This is subject to a successful SKE.

    All the best.
    oHelzo and pepper5 like this.
  11. julietowusu99

    julietowusu99 New commenter

    Good luck with it all. I’m just a couple weeks close to finishing and definitely feel as though I made the right decision.
    oHelzo likes this.
  12. Vitalistics

    Vitalistics New commenter


    What sort of training role was it if you don't mind answering?
  13. leic57

    leic57 New commenter

    Hi Juliet,

    Well done on getting this far and im sure you have made the right choice.:) Yep another pharmacist here, ive been working in community for the last six years and i'm inspired at your courage to move away from pharmacy, so maybe im feeling like this because ive just finished another days work with absolutely no breaks, scripts in baskets up to the ceiling and colleagues who are dragging their heals ( dispensers and OTC staff), okay i think you've been there ( at some stage) !!!

    Ive been thinking of Teaching Chemistry too, but its been a long time, how did you get on and what standard were you before you started? What can i read or where would i begin?

    What did it cost you? I also have three kids all young but there mum is here too look after them! Im 40 by the way! But i would like to hear more about your year in teacher training?

    oHelzo likes this.
  14. julietowusu99

    julietowusu99 New commenter

    Hey Liam. Yep typical pharmacy day I don’t miss that one bit. I actually still do two Sundays a month working at the pharmacy just to keep my foot in it. Ok so I was doing a bit of tutoring maths and science to students and I really enjoyed it so I think that was what really pushed me into doing it. Your subject knowledge will come back as you start preparing for lessons so don’t worry about that.

    Price...... well being a teacher will leave you in debt to the government as I took a student loan for the tuition fees, but you do get a lovely 26,000 (no tax) bursary if you go the PGCE or schools direct root.

    Go for it.... I’m early 30’s so not far off from you.... I say teaching kinda has a calling, if you’re getting that call go for it. You have your wife to help... I’m a single mum to two and have managed to get through, so it definitely is do able.
  15. Tuesday2015

    Tuesday2015 New commenter

    Hi Juliet and other pharmacists, I’m interested to know how it’s all going as I am pharmacist looking to move into secondary science teaching or use the QTS gained to teach on other healthcare related FE or HE courses at a later date.
  16. julietowusu99

    julietowusu99 New commenter

    Hi, Yh it’s going very well so far.
    I’ve completed my PGCE with the highest mark of outstanding. I started my NQT place in July and now currently enjoying the holidays.

    It wasn’t as bad as some people made out to be. There were times when assignment deadlines were coming up that it gets a bit stressful.
    I feel like although the PGCE year was very demanding I actually had more time to spend with my kids, as I hardly brought work home. If you manage your time effectively the work you do at home can be quite minimal.

    I say go for it, if you feel it’s not for you, then you can always fall back on your pharmacy.
    agathamorse and oHelzo like this.
  17. Tuesday2015

    Tuesday2015 New commenter

    Thank you for writing back. Well done on your QTS status and successful NQT appointment. Thank you for your supportive comments!
  18. oHelzo

    oHelzo Occasional commenter

    After my PGCE I moved into primary care medicines optimisation work. With my PGCE behind me, I helped out with training sessions, helping write training packages, clinical presentations and team building work, locally and across the region. I then got the offer of 2 days a week regional education and training time, plus the local work the rest of the time.
    agathamorse likes this.
  19. Tuesday2015

    Tuesday2015 New commenter

    Hi OHelzo, excellent combination of both pharmacist and teacher roles!

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