This guide explains the process of pre-registration training required to become a professionally registered pharmacist, with an emphasis on the careers provided by some of the leading pharmaceutical companies.
Pharmacists are highly qualified professionals with a specialism in medicines. Studying pharmacy is intellectually demanding and stimulating as you will acquire in-depth knowledge of a range of subjects from the basic and applied sciences such as physiology, biochemistry and advanced neuropharmacology; medicinal chemistry and formulation science; to medicines legislation and social pharmacy concepts. You will develop advanced communication and problem-solving skills as well as research skills in the laboratory or practice setting. The MPharm course provides graduates with the skills required to follow a variety of career paths once graduates have successfully completed their preregistration training and registered as pharmacists. These may include research or further study for a PhD.
Community pharmacy: Pharmacists use their skills, knowledge and expertise about the management and best use of medicines to support the effective delivery of primary care. They provide advice to patients, GPs and other healthcare professionals ensuring that medicines are used appropriately, safely and effectively. In addition to this, the community pharmacist’s vital role in the NHS includes prescribing medicines, reviewing treatments and monitoring how patients take their medicines.
Primary care: Pharmacists work in GP practices providing prescribing advice to GPs and nurses as well as running clinics for patients with long term conditions usually underpinned by their role as qualified independent or supplementary prescribers.
Hospital pharmacy: Pharmacists offer patient-focused care as part of the clinical ward team who advise consultants, doctors and nurses on the safe and effective use of medicines. Other roles include medicines information and manufacturing, running out-patient clinics, prescribing and their core role of provision of in and out-patient dispensing.
Consultant Pharmacists: Pharmacists who are clinical leaders with the profession in education, research, and in the delivery of expert pharmaceutical practice. These tend to be very experienced advanced practitioners who specialise in the care of particular groups of patients. These pharmacists will have additional postgraduate qualifications and some will be involved in research in their specialist subject area.
Pharmaceutical adviser: These pharmacists work across primary and secondary care, providing guidance to community and hospital pharmacists in the planning of local pharmacy services. They also support the transfer of patients between care sectors.
Research: Other career options range from pursuing medicines research in industry or academia as an industrial or academic pharmacist respectively.
Other roles: Pharmacists work with the professional regulator (GPhC), healthcare regulators such as Care Quality Commission, and professional organisations such as Royal Pharmaceutical Society, and National Pharmacy Association. There are also pharmacists in the civil service at Department of Health and in government agencies such as the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, Health Education England, and NHS England. They also work in the armed forces, the prison service and others specialise in agricultural and veterinary pharmacy.
If you enjoy working with people and would like a rewarding career in healthcare, then studying pharmacy is the way forward. The pharmacy degree equips you with an extensive knowledge of medicines, one of the most common interventions used in promoting health and preventing disease.