Hemant Patel: The pharmacist's role is expanding as never before

If you are looking for a challenge in the healthcare arena that is fast- evolving and patient-focused, then pharmacy could be the choice for you. Many pharmacists now operate at the frontline of the NHS and today, the role of the pharmacist is expanding as never before. You can choose to work in a variety of areas including community pharmacy, hospital, primary care, the pharmaceutical industry, academia, research or the armed forces. Opportunities are also developing in specialist areas such as veterinary pharmacy.

In whatever field they operate, pharmacists work to improve health, either by researching new medicines, working as part of a team with doctors and nurses in hospitals or giving advice directly to patients. They also play a major part at a senior level within the NHS framework, managing medicines and making the best use of resources allocated for medicines.

Pharmacists are also involved in the regulation of medicines, ensuring that they are safe and effective. And, of course, pharmacists are teaching in our universities to help develop the pharmacists of tomorrow.

If you're interested in working abroad, then your skills as a pharmacist could be in demand worldwide and opportunities within international pharmaceutical companies are growing all the time as new markets emerge.

The responsibilities that pharmacists have are increasing all the time and some are already able to prescribe medicines for patients. By working closely with a doctor, they can adjust a patient's medication in accordance with an agreed protocol.

This is all part of the Government's stated aim of improving public access to healthcare, to help people stay well and out of hospital and patients to better treat their own conditions at home. Pharmacists have long shown that they have the skills and expertise to make a significant contribution to NHS services, improve public health and provide choice. Other initiatives such as community-based minor ailment schemes and the introduction of Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP) will place pharmacists at the cutting edge.

Pharmacists also help people to lead healthier lifestyles. For example, we have a significant role in helping people stop smoking and offering valuable expert advice on areas such as sexual health.

To qualify as a pharmacist, students must take a four-year Masters 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 Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's (RPSGB) registration exam, after which you will be able to practise as a pharmacist. The RPSGB is the regulatory and professional body for pharmacists, working to protect the public and also develop the pharmacy profession. In Northern Ireland you must be registered with the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Pharmacists who are registered with either PSNI or RPSGB are eligible for registration with the other organisation.

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. You should check the precise entry requirements of your chosen school. For more information and links to the different schools log onto: www.pharmacycareers.org.uk.

And don't forget, life as a pharmacy student is great fun. Aside from university life, the RPSGB has its own British Pharmaceutical Students' Association (see: www.bpsa.com) which is the national body representing pharmacy students and pre-registration trainees. Log onto their website and see the variety of social and study-related events they organise and the help and advice they can offer.

Every year the RPSGB holds the British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC) which is recognised as the leading pharmacy science and practice event in the country. This year's event takes place at the Manchester International Convention Centre, from 4-6 September. Visit www.bpc2006.org for more information.

On behalf of the profession, I look forward to welcoming you to a career in pharmacy.

Hemant Patel is President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Marketing & Social Media Executive

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a Marketing Graduate or...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Services Graduate Training Scheme

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a successful and establ...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£20 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer is nee...

SPONSORED FEATURES

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future