Hemant Patel: pharmacy today offers a challenging, varied and rewarding career

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The Independent Online

THERE HAS never been a more exciting time to consider a career in pharmacy. The profession is experiencing a period of unprecedented progress and development. The skills of pharmacists have never been in greater demand and our members now deliver the latest, cutting-edge treatments and medicines to millions of patients every day. In the pages of this supplement you will find many examples of successful pharmacy professionals who are working hard and taking advantage of the various opportunities that a career in pharmacy can offer.

If you do choose a career in pharmacy then you will be sure to find the type of work available is very diverse. Among the paths you could choose are community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, primary care, the pharmaceutical industry, academia, research or even the armed forces. Specialist areas such as veterinary pharmacy or the regulation of medicines are also beginning to emerge.

To maintain our position at the frontline of healthcare, we need to attract the next wave of future pharmacists who will help take pharmacy forward. Whether your future is in research, on the frontline of the NHS as a community pharmacist or working on a hospital ward, pharmacy today offers a challenging, varied and rewarding career.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB), as the professional and regulatory body for pharmacy, has a leading role to play in helping pharmacists to shape the future direction of the pharmacy profession.

To qualify as a pharmacist, you must take a four-year master of pharmacy degree course followed by a year of pre-registration training within a pharmacy workplace (for which you get paid). Finally, you must pass the RPSGB registration exam, after which you will be able to practise as a pharmacist. In Northern Ireland you must be registered with the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The PSNI and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain have a mutual agreement for registration in either country. Current registration with one society allows a pharmacist with the recognised UK pharmacy qualification to apply for registration with the other.

Although most courses are geared to those with A-levels in chemistry and two other subjects from biology, mathematics or physics, students may also be considered with chemistry or biology (and one other subject). You also need literacy and numeracy skills with minimum GCSE in maths and English language at grade C or above. In Scotland, students require Highers in the sciences. Approximately one third of students admitted to schools of pharmacy have other qualifications. These include the Irish School Leaving Certificate, National or Higher National Certificate or Diplomas, international baccalaureate or Access qualifications. It is always best to check the precise entry requirements of your chosen school of pharmacy. For more information about pharmacy careers and links to the different schools log onto: www.pharmacycareers.org.uk.

By choosing a career in pharmacy you will not only be joining the pharmacy family but will also become part a wider healthcare community that is delivering modern day services to the public and patients.

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