Pharmacy is a popular, well-respected profession which has a lot to offer suitable candidates, including an attractive salary and the opportunity to help others.
The qualifications required to train as a pharmacist are usually gained in stages.
At Secondary School
The sooner you decide pharmacy is the career for you the better, as you need good enough grades in maths, English and core science subjects to study these topics at A level. Aim for at least five A-C grades across the board.
At Sixth Form
Although it may vary between universities (so do check first), UK sixth-form students generally need A or B grades in chemistry (essential) and two more science/maths-related subjects. Scottish colleges have slightly different requirements, with students needing to gain more Highers (A level equivalent) than those in other parts of the UK.
Those who have been educated in another country, completed an Access course or have alternative but equivalent level qualifications are able to apply for a university place with no penalty. Those dealing with clinical staffing solutions such as a shortage of pharmacists welcome this approach.
A four-year MPharm degree from an accredited university is essential.
Graduates who plan to work as a dispensing pharmacist must undertake one year of training in either a community (retail outlet/health centre) or hospital pharmacy, and then pass a registration exam. Mature graduates experienced in clinical staffing solutions may choose to work in recruitment too.
Most people who study pharmacy go on to work in either a retail or medical environment, where they spend part of their time advising, helping and supporting those at a vulnerable point in their lives. Good communication skills, a pleasant attitude and an understanding personality will make doing this job more rewarding.
A few graduates choose to pursue the research angle instead, happy to devote their time and skills to discovering new ways to counteract and treat various conditions. This kind of work is suited to those with an inquisitive mind and strong analytical skills who are comfortable working alone for long periods of time.
The key to gaining the necessary qualifications to train as a pharmacist is to seriously focus on your goal for each section of the journey and then move on to the next.