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Community Pharmacist

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Salaries from: £30,000

Role description

Community pharmacists are well-respected professionals within their local community who use their expert knowledge of medicines to help patients get the best possible care and outcomes from their medicines.

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.

Key responsibilities

As a community pharmacist, you'll be responsible for:

  • dispensing of prescription and over-the-counter medicines to the public
  • reviewing prescriptions from doctors to ensure accuracy and suitability for the patient, including the dosage, ingredients required, and correctly and safely labelled.
  • supervise the preparation of any medicines when not supplied ready-made by manufacturers
  • maintaining accurate pharmacy records, patient profiles, charge system files, and inventories
  • maintaining a register of controlled drugs for legal and stock control purposes
  • liaising with doctors and other healthcare professionals to monitor, review and evaluate the effectiveness of medications
  • advising the public on medicines, side-effects of medicines and the treatment of minor ailments
  • providing advice on specialist health care issues, such as vaccinations, blood pressure, smoking cessation, cholesterol monitoring and diabetes screening
  • managing, supervising, educating and training pharmacy support staff
  • management of pharmacy finances and medicines budgets
  • ordering and purchasing pharmaceutical supplies, medical supplies, or drugs
  • maintaining stock and storing and handling it correctly

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.

Qualifications

To qualify as a pharmacist, you must:

  • complete a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)-accredited Masters degree in pharmacy (MPharm)
  • complete a period of one-year paid pre-registration training in a GPhC-approved community pharmacy, under supervision
  • pass the GPhC registration assessment
  • meet the GPhC fitness to practice requirements for registration as a pharmacist.

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:

  • excellent communication skills - you must listen carefully to what patients say, as well as explain complex and sometimes sensitive information to the general public and other healthcare professionals
  • the ability to work with others in a multidisciplinary team, as well as to lead others in a team
  • concern for the welfare of the general public
  • accuracy and meticulous attention to detail
  • a methodical approach to work
  • an understanding of business principles
  • high levels of customer service
  • a professional and confident manner
  • the ability to inspire the trust of others
  • that you understand and can apply the law in terms of the storage and dispensing of medicines
  • a willingness to take on a high level of responsibility.

Related case studies for this role

David Howells - Area manager

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Atika Tailor - Community pharmacist

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Min Teo - Clinical Directo

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Mark Donaghy - Professional Development Manager

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Vicki Simmons - Interface Pharmacist

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Sally Farmer - Regional Pharmacy Manager

Meet Sally Farmer, a Regional Pharmacist Manager in Community Pharmacy who tells us all about her role and why she chose pharmacy as a career.

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Basil Alackal - Trainee Pharmacist - Community

Basil Alackal - who tells us all about his role and why he chose pharmacy as a career.

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Bhavisha Patel - Relief Community Pharmacist

Community Pharmacist, Bhavisha shares her day-to-day life of the role and his experiences in a community pharmacy

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Further information

Professional development

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.

Career prospects

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.

Videos

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