Pharmacy is a scientific profession which requires a high level of education and five years’ worth of training. This article will explain how to go about becoming a pharmacist in the UK.
Taking the degree course
The only way to enter the pharmacy profession is through a four-year pharmacy degree course (Mpharm) followed by one-year pre-registration training.
Degree courses are available from schools of pharmacy approved by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
Pharmacy school requirements are A level passes in chemistry and two of biology/mathematics/physics, but students may also be considered with chemistry and one science (preferably biology) together with another subject. Students must also have basic literacy and numeracy skills (e.g. GCSE grades A-C in English language and mathematics). Applicants may be accepted on to a degree course without the normal academic requirements, although candidates must be able to demonstrate that they are capable of academic study at this level. One way of doing this is to complete a science access course.
Objectives of the degree
The main aim of the pharmacy degree course is to provide students the necessary theoretical knowledge and practical skills to competently and successfully practise pharmacy. During the programme, there are strong links with practising pharmacists in order to develop a professional attitude.
Upon graduation, students intending to register as pharmacists have to complete a one-year period of pre-registration training. This is to demonstrate that they meet certain performance standards and at the end, they have to pass a registration examination.
Place of training
Pre-registration training takes place within a pharmacy setting, with at least six months spent in either the community or hospital sector.
Training will teach the students important skills
Students must demonstrate that they can dispense medicines on prescription, counsel patients and use certain equipment reliably. The registration examination is multiple choice and is designed to ensure newly registered pharmacists have enough knowledge to complement practising pharmacy.
Registration with the council Once pre-registration training is complete, all pharmacists wishing to practise in the NHS must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). The GPhC requires high ethical standards, educational and professional excellence and a high duty of care to patients and the public. Students in pre-registration training enter the NHS on a Band 5 salary, around £23,000, moving up to Band 6 on registration, around £33,000.