Pharmacists work either within communities or in hospitals, and are responsible for dispensing medicines to patients.
In a hospital setting, pharmacists are also likely to be responsible for the manufacture and testing of some drugs.
The job of community pharmacist involves the ordering and dispensing of medicines to customers, and sometimes the diagnosis of customers who come into the pharmacy for advice. Community pharmacists might work in locations including:
The average salary for a pharmacist in the UK is £34,795 per year, according to Pay Scale, with salaries ranging from £22,130 to £48,000, depending on experience.
Medicines Use Review (MUR) and New Medicine Service (NMS) pharmacists, who have completed extra courses and gained further skill in the field, often command the highest salaries. Pharmacists with a team to manage can also expect to be paid well.
As it is a highly specialised role, the process to becoming a pharmacist is a long one.
If you know you want to become a pharmacist from leaving school, you need to study A-Levels that will qualify you for a degree in this area – so the “hard” sciences, including biology and chemistry, are a must.
To become a pharmacist you must complete an accredited degree – both undergraduate and masters combined - in pharmacy, which is offered at 26 UK universities. The degree lasts four years and is known as the MPharm.
This should be followed by one year of training in a community pharmacy, which will give you the practical skills needed to do the job of a pharmacist. You must also pass the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) registration exam.
After all these steps have been completed you will be able to apply for pharmacist.
Pharmacists work both directly within the public and within their own teams, meaning communication, patience, empathy and teamwork are all essential skills.
It goes without saying that technical skill, awareness of medicine and a willingness to read up on and continually learn about new drugs and treatments is a must.
Other skills that you will need to become a pharmacist include responsibility, reliability and attention to detail.
Ask if you can shadow a pharmacist at work or gain work experience in a pharmacy by contacting them directly. Any experience you have in a retail setting is also likely to be beneficial.