Pharmacists provide expert advice on the use and supply of medicines and medical appliances.Job Category:
What you will do:
Your tasks will depend on which area of pharmacy you work in.
In this role you could:
- dispense medicines in a pharmacy, hospital or a GP practice clinic
- give advice about prescription and over-the-counter medicines
- advise on drug dosages and risks, to the public, patients, GPs and nurses
- run screening programmes for diabetes, cholesterol or blood pressure
- visit care homes or hospitals to advise on the use and storage of medications
- order and control stock
- run a business, including supervising and training staff
- buy, quality test and distribute medicines throughout a hospital
- supervise trainees and junior pharmacists
In education or industry, you could:
- do research into new medicines
- run clinical trials
- maths & science knowledge
- the ability to read English
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
As well as:
- very high standards of accuracy and attention to detail
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- organisational skills and ability to prioritise work
- sensitivity and understanding
- customer service skills
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- excellent verbal communication skills
- business skills (if you’re running a community pharmacy)
To become a pharmacist in the UK, you will need to complete certain educational and training requirements. The specific GCSE subjects you should take to prepare for a career as a pharmacist may include the following:
- English Language: Effective communication is crucial in pharmacy for interactions with patients and colleagues and for maintaining accurate records.
- Mathematics: Basic mathematical skills are essential for pharmacy, particularly for tasks like measuring and dispensing medications and calculating dosages.
- Chemistry: An understanding of chemistry is fundamental to pharmacy, as pharmacists need to have a solid grasp of chemical properties and interactions of medications.
- Biology: Biology is another key science subject, as it provides essential knowledge about the human body, diseases, and the biological basis of medications.
- Physics: While not always a strict requirement, physics can be helpful in understanding certain aspects of pharmaceutical science and medical equipment.
- Additional Science or Additional Applied Science: Many schools offer additional science or applied science GCSE courses, which can provide a broader scientific foundation that can be beneficial for pharmacy.
You will likely need a 4 year Master’s degree in Pharmacy (MPharm) to become a pharmacist as well as a one year pre-registration training course in pharmacy (this may vary though from country to country).
If you do not have the qualifications to get onto a MPharm degree, you could do a 2-year pharmacy foundation degree. You would then take a job as a pharmacy assistant or technician and apply to enter the MPharm degree in its second year.
You will also need to pass background checks.
Working Hours and Environment:
Pharmacists and pharmacy assistants spend most of their time in a pharmacy, which could be on the high street or based in a hospital or clinic. They frequently deal with customers and patients, discussing treatments, giving advice, and dispensing medicine. They may sometimes visit care homes and hospital wards to talk about medication, its use, and its storage.
Career Path & Progression:
There’s a formal career structure in most hospital organisations, so with experience you could progress to team manager or pharmacy consultant. You could also work in GPs’ surgeries or health centres.
Promotion opportunities can be good if you’re working for one of the larger pharmacy chains where you can apply for regional or national management positions. With experience, you could set up your own community pharmacy business. Salaries in the private sector are similar to government run hospitals but can be higher.
There are opportunities to work as a pharmacist in the military.
After further training, you could go on to teach pharmacy students at university.
Another option is to move into related areas like scientific journalism or publishing.
To do research, you’ll need a further postgraduate qualification in a subject like toxicology or pharmacology.