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Pharmacist Jobs and Careers

If you have a scientific mind and are interested in a steady career with regular hours, close to home, then you might wish to consider pharmacy. Opportunities in this field are increasing. As experts in medicine, pharmacists now work not only in the high street chemists, but in other areas of healthcare, including doctor's surgeries, hospital wards and various medical clinics, as well as holding research positions in industry and universities. The direction you pursue depends largely on how much you wish to work with the public and contribute to individual health, as against contributing through involvement in the development of new products.

Pharmacist Jobs Sites.

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In this article, we consider the positions available to pharmacists who wish to work directly with both people and animals.

What is Involved in the Pharmacist Job?

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain recognises the following areas of work as being available to the qualified pharmacist.

Is This Job Right for You?

People who are successful in pharmaceutical jobs usually wish to contribute to society by supporting people's health and well-being through the provision of medicine. A strong interest in science is essential, coupled with the desire to study and to keep studying throughout your professional life. In most areas of the industry, people skills are valuable, as well as the ability to listen and communicate effectively.

Particularly in community pharmacy, anxious customers or patients are going to need words of reassurance from time to time. Attention to detail is needed for safety reasons, as it is essential that dosages are accurate. You will need to possess integrity and follow codes of confidentiality when dealing with customers, who may be giving you highly personal information.

Business skills help the community pharmacist run their retail business, selling non-prescription products from the shop shelves as well as dispensing. This means financial management skills, inventory and stock control, pricing and merchandising. You will usually need to employ staff and adhere to employment regulations.

Some technical and IT skills are important, particularly in hospital pharmacy, where new technology is rapidly changing the role. If aiming to work in hospital pharmacy, a stronger interest in healthcare is required, as consultation with healthcare professionals will be a daily part of the job.

In research, an enquiring mind and the ability to think independently is important. Likewise, you need to be able to plan and shape a research project through its various stages. The motivation to broach new horizons in healthcare through the use of medication is vital.

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Environment and Hours

Working in the community means being based in a retail pharmacy, pursuing more or less regular office hours, with additional rota opening times over weekends and public holidays. Working in a public or military hospital will necessitate weekend working on a rota. Military pharmacists will work highly variable hours. Academic and industrial researchers will be working more regular daytime hours during the week.

Qualifications Required

To become a pharmacist, you need to take science subjects at A-level (or Scottish equivalent), usually chemistry and one other, such as biology or physics, together with mathematics. Some undergraduates have gained admission with other qualifications, such as Higher National Diplomas, the International Baccalaureate, etc.

Strong grades will enable you to apply for a place on a pharmacy degree course at university, usually a 3-year BSc followed by a 1-year MSc. The degree course covers the origin and chemistry of drugs, the preparation of medicines, actions and uses of drugs and medicines, and pharmacy practice.

This is then supplemented by one year's practical training as a graduate in a community or hospital pharmacy. Upon successful completion, you can then pass a registration examination that enables you to work independently.

Salaries and Prospects

As a graduate who has yet to register, you can work in the NHS with a starting salary of around £15,000. Upon registration, this rises to around £20,000-22,000. Later specialisation can lead to higher salaries as pharmacists rise to consultant status, or to management roles, where they are involved in supervising technical and support staff.

Salaries are far higher for industrial pharmacists, rising to an upper limit of £60,000. Community pharmacists' salaries depend entirely on their local chemist and success in running a chemist's business.

Pharmacist Jobs Sites

Specialist pharmacy career and recruitment companies include:

Leading High Street Chemists include:


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