Do you want to pursue a career in science, are you interested in healthcare and would like to help people for a living? Then becoming a pharmacist might just be right up your alley.
If you’ve decided to follow this exciting and – might I add – quite lucrative career path, then you’ve come to the right place. You’ll find all the information you need to start, advance and succeed as a pharmacist in this comprehensive step-by-step guide, plus where to look for suitable opportunities and how much you could potentially earn.
Here’s how to become a pharmacist in the UK.
1. Research the Profession
First things first, before you dive straight into applying to universities, you’ll need to gain a clear and thorough understanding of what exactly the job of a pharmacist entails. Below is an overview of what to expect on the job, what skills you need to possess to succeed in the role, as well as what kind of salary you could potentially earn.
Pharmacists, also known as chemists, are healthcare professionals who are primarily responsible for dispensing medications that have been prescribed by a doctor. They are experts in medicines and their use, and also provide basic health advice to patients on various issues like quitting smoking, for example.
But, there’s much more to their jobs than simply passing boxes of pills over the counter. Their typical day-to-day duties include:
- Advising other healthcare professionals on how to choose medicines and use them correctly
- Ensuring new medicines are safe to use with other medications
- Advising on dosage, risks and potential side effects, as well as suggesting the most appropriate form of medication (eg: tablet, inhaler, injection, etc)
- Ensuring patients use their medicines safely
- Running screening programmes for diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure
- Recommending changes to prescriptions
- Helping patients manage long-term conditions
2. Get the Qualifications
If you’ve decided that becoming a pharmacist is indeed the right career for you, the next step you need to take is to complete all the necessary training. Here is an overview of what you need to do to qualify as a pharmacist in the UK.
Education and Training
In order to qualify as a pharmacist, you’ll need to complete a four-year Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
Entry requirements for pharmacy degree courses vary depending on the institution, but you’ll typically need:
- At least five GCSEs in subjects like English, maths and double science
- At least three A-levels or equivalent at level 3