Community Pharmacist, Atika shares her day-to-day life of the role and her experiences of a career in pharmacy.Read transcript
As a community pharmacist, you'll be responsible for dispensing prescription and over-the-counter medicines that help people to maintain and improve their lives, in a cost-effective way. You will be responsible for constantly monitoring the quality, safety, and use of medicines, which requires a high level of interaction with patients, providing advice and information about the use of medicines and medical appliances.
As a community pharmacist, you will work alongside pharmacy technicians and pharmacy support staff, such as pharmacy assistants to deliver the pharmacy service. Each person is a high valued member of the pharmacy team. Your location of work will typically be a high street pharmacy, part of a chain or an independent, or you might work in a doctor's practice or health centre.
As a community pharmacist, you'll be responsible for:
It takes five years to qualify as a pharmacist in England and Wales, and up to six years in Scotland. You must first achieve an MPharm degree approved by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). Following which you’ll need to complete one year’s pre-registration training in a pharmacy before taking the registration exam set by the GPhC. To practice as a pharmacist, you must be registered with the GPhC.
To qualify as a pharmacist, you must:
It takes five years to qualify as a pharmacist in England and Wale, and six years in Scotland. The first step is an MPharm degree approved by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). The MPharm is a four-year course in England and Wales, and typically a five-year course in Scotland. You’ll then need to complete one year’s pre-registration training in a pharmacy before sitting the registration exam set by the GPhC. To practice as a pharmacist, you must be registered with the GPhC.
In addition, you need:
Many employers provide well-structured, intensive training programmes of varying length. All aim to provide new entrants with a broad overview of the company and offer the chance to gain experience in various retailing areas. As well as pharmacy-related training, you'll receive training in skills such as communication, problem solving and decision making.
Once qualified, you'll need to renew your registration with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) annually. To remain registered you must undertake regular continuing professional development (CPD) to show you're keeping your skills and knowledge up to date.
You must keep abreast of developments in drug research including new drugs on the market, new ways of treating conditions with drugs and the government policy on drug treatment. This will involve reading professional journals and publications and attending courses and training sessions throughout your career.
Membership of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society provides access to relevant resources, events, mentoring services, professional networks, webinars and CPD support.
You can choose to undertake further postgraduate training, such as a clinical diploma, to develop your knowledge and skills. There are a range of continuing education and postgraduate courses available in various aspects of community practice.
Promotion will usually involve management of specific service areas, such as managing staff other than pharmacists, including accuracy checking pharmacy technicians and sales assistants.
If you're working for a major chain of pharmacies, there may be opportunities to progress to branch and then district manager roles. At the most senior level you could be working as a pharmacy superintendent, influencing the running of the business and contributing to overall strategy, with responsibility for many pharmacists. There are also opportunities to move into management roles in areas such as business or professional development.
Some pharmacists work in GP surgeries and health centres. This involves advising on the best use of medicines, working as part of a multidisciplinary healthcare team, and having a lot of patient contact.
With lots of experience, you may choose to set up your own business. It's also possible to move into careers in scientific writing, research, publishing and consultancy, including recruitment and training. Complementary medicine and animal medicine are other options.