Would you like to know more about what it’s like to work as a pharmacist? Watch this video with Vicki Collings, a pharmacist and clinical lecturer in the Department of Pharmacy & Forensic Science, to discover what it’s like to work in this area.
What do pharmacists do?
The pharmacist’s role is centred around providing safe medications to patients. This can take place in many sectors of healthcare: in hospital or in the community, but also in academia and in industry. Wherever they work, pharmacists are experts in medicine and use this to improve patients’ lives.
For example, a pharmacist working on a hospital stroke ward would be involved whenever the patient is receiving medication, from emergency thrombolysis in the acute stage to optimising the regular medicines once the patient is discharged – always taking the patient’s individual needs into account.
As well as strong scientific knowledge, pharmacists also need good communication and teamwork skills. For example, they need to be able to talk to their patients about their past and present medication and discuss what will happen after they are discharged, when they will continue to visit their community pharmacist with any questions or concerns about their regular medication.
Being a pharmacist is very rewarding, particularly when you feel like you’ve made a difference to individuals, such as helping them manage a side-effect of their medication or improve their lifestyle.'
If you would like to work as a pharmacist, first you need good A-level grades in maths and science, particularly chemistry. You then need to enter into a four-year undergraduate Master of Pharmacy programme (MPharm).
After this degree programme you would need to do one year of pre-registration training. This usually takes place within community or hospital sectors but there are also opportunities in industry. After that you can register with the General Pharmaceutical Council as a pharmacist in the UK.
Once you’ve registered as a pharmacist, there are lots of opportunities to work in different sectors, both in healthcare and in industry. Some opportunities include:
- working as a clinical pharmacist in a hospital, both in patient-facing and management roles
- working in community pharmacies, both in patient-facing and management roles
- working in a GP practice or in primary care organisations, both in patient-facing and management roles
- working in pharmaceutical industries or academia, in terms of drug-development, research and education
- working in other science-related roles such as scientific publishing, medical writing or medicines regulation.
There are also many opportunities to undertake postgraduate study in specialist areas of pharmacy or other scientific fields.
If you’re thinking about a career in pharmacy, first of all make sure you take chemistry at A-level so you can get onto an undergraduate pharmacy course. If possible, it’s also good to get some work experience: try looking for a summer or weekend job in a pharmacy to see if you think this is the right career for you.
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