Are you the kind of person who just loves to help others? Would you like to make a positive impact on your community or your patients using your medical knowledge and people skills? Does a varied role with a bit of a challenge appeal to you? If so, it sounds like a career in pharmacy might be right for you!
As a pharmacist, there are several places that might be your place of work. Many pharmacists work in a hospital where they will handle a set of patients and recommend treatments, which may deviate from previous prescriptions, as well as checking discharge prescriptions before they are released. Here, they also give advice and answer queries about medications to any other hospital staff who ask. Other settings you may work in include clinics, retail pharmacies or even the army.
But before you choose your place of work, you need to get qualified. All pharmacists are required to complete the same degree, which is a masters degree called PharmD. You don’t necessarily need to take Bachelors degree in order to get on this course, however if you don’t have the grades, or the course is very competitive, taking a full or foundation degree beforehand could really help your chances. Some universities even offer specific pre-pharmacy programs which include the most relevant and helpful modules to prepare you for your PharmD.
Next up you need to complete a year of pre-registration practices. During this year you will spend time training under the supervision of a tutor. This will be your chance to put everything you have learned to practice, guided by a professional who will review your progress.
Once you have completed your pre-registration year and passed your GPhC registration exam, you will finally be able to apply for a GPhC registration which allows you to practice within the UK. This process can take between 4 to 8 years, but many would agree that the adventure is worth it to be able to work in a hugely rewarding role. Even after earning practicing rights, you’ll still be learning new stuff every single day, which is what makes this job so exciting.
If the intensive education route doesn’t appeal to you, but you’re still fascinated by a role where you get to directly help patients and work with people from all backgrounds, you could instead pursue a career as a pharmacy technician. This slightly less qualified role allows you to work alongside a pharmacist and build up an array of knowledge that you can use to help others, all for a much cheaper and shorter training period.
Pharmacy technicians can get certified in under a year! This can also be a great way to find out if becoming a pharmacist is for you, before putting all the hard work in. But be warned, there is no short cut to transitioning from a technician to a pharmacist, you will still have to undergo all the same steps and unfortunately your technician experience won’t count for anything. Equally if you want to remain as a pharmacy technician, there is plenty of room to grow in your role and become a trusted, well paid member of your team!
Which ever route you take, once you’re qualified all that is left is to find available pharmacy jobs. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get your dream job right away, and don’t be afraid to start low and work up. Here are some tips to help you get that dream job in your field.