Pharmacists and their support staff are primarily concerned with the application of medicines, utilising their expert knowledge of medication and its specific uses to play a vital role in the care and ongoing recovery of patients.
The use of medicines (including antibiotics for example) is the most common type of treatment for sick patients and is often integral to a full and swift recovery. Those in pharmacy positions are vital for making sure that the most applicable and safe medicines are prescribed for a wide range of conditions… ensuring that both the immediate and longer-term medical needs of the patients are cared for effectively.
As well as working as part of the wider healthcare team (alongside doctors, nurses and AHPs in hospitals and GP practices) to prescribe the best treatment solution to acute conditions, the expertise of pharmacy staff is important to patients with long-term health issues requiring ongoing prescriptions (such as diabetes or asthma).
In many cases, such as in community pharmacy settings, they may also provide lifestyle and public health advice directly to patients, on issues like sexual health or smoking cessation. You’ll also find pharmacy and dispensary services in some supermarkets and high street chains.
Read on for more about some of the pharmacy-related roles – and guidance about entry requirements – within healthcare.
Alternatively find out how to make an application to study pharmacy at a UK university –
Staff in this role are trained to ensure that antibiotics are applied in the most appropriate way, at the correct dosage and given at the right time. As well as advising other members of the healthcare team (including Doctors and Nurses) on the best antibiotic medicines for each patient (where applicable), an Antimicrobial Pharmacist might also work directly with patients, to ensure that they are knowledgeable enough about any antibiotics they need to take at home as part of their ongoing treatment – including how and when to take them.
Entry roles can vary from organisation to organisation, and some training will usually be provided when you start the job. If you’re looking at a specific role and have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.
Pharmacists apply their training and experience of a vast array of medicines (and the effects they have on the human body) to help patients with almost every type of condition. This knowledge is critical to patient care at almost every level. A Pharmacist will be able to advise Doctors, Nurses and other healthcare professionals about the best medication to prescribe, as well as information on correct dosages and application (including, e.g. ensuring it will be safe for the patient to take alongside other medication they may need). In this role, you might also interact with members of the public directly, in a similar capacity – ensuring they understand how and when to take their medicine and any potential side effects to note.
With the right training, Pharmacists may also be involved with the manufacture of medicines (e.g. if tailor-made solutions are required for individual patients).
Pharmacists are found in a number of health and care settings, from hospitals and healthcare centres, to retail pharmacies within high-street shops and supermarkets.
Typical entry requirements:
- A master’s degree in pharmacy (MPharm, typically 4 years, full time) for which you would need:
- 2 or 3 A-Levels (A-B grade) in chemistry, biology, maths or physics / 5 GCSEs or equivalent (A-C/4-9) including at least one science alongside maths and English language
- Otherwise, equivalent qualifications, including Scottish/Irish versions of the above, or BTEC, HND or HNC (inc. science), a relevant NVQ, a science-based access course – or a foundation degree in pharmacy
- Registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, post-graduation of your master’s degree, is a must
- Following university, to become fully qualified you’ll need to pass a registration exam and complete 1 year of supervised, pre-registration, work within a hospital or community pharmacy
Sharing some of the same duties as a Pharmacist, a Pharmacy Technician is a senior member of the team that may work directly with patients (as well as other healthcare professionals) to give advice and to manage and prep medicines. In this role you might be based within a hospital (which could involve you taking medicine histories, giving treatment advice and reviewing medicines), or within a community pharmacy where tasks might include using your expertise to help patients stop smoking, or lending your skills to mental health or general practice services.
Typical entry requirements:
- An accredited pharmaceutical qualification, such as a BTEC National Diploma (pharmaceutical science), NVQ/SVQ Level 3 (pharmacy services) or a National Certificate (pharmaceutical science) – for which you will usually need:
- To be employed and working within a pharmacy
- 4 GCSEs or equivalent (A-C/4-9) including two science subjects, maths and English (or equivalent)
- Additional first-hand experience of having spent some time with a registered pharmacist would be beneficial
- Apprenticeships may also be available, depending on the employer
People in this role help Pharmacists and other members of the team with ordering, preparing and dispensing medicines to patients. This could include taking in and handing out prescriptions to be dispensed, stock management and ordering items, packing and labelling medication, taking deliveries, face-to-face or over-the-phone patient contact (e.g. to answer queries) and more. This could be based within community or high-street pharmacies, or part of a wider healthcare team within a hospital.
Typical entry requirements:
- Requirements vary based on specific role and employer, as no set requirements for this role
- Employers may expect relevant qualifications, such as GCSEs or equivalent
- Prior experience in a related role is usually beneficial
- Apprenticeships may also be available, depending on the employer and location