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

Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
Arts and Entertainment
books The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
News
Harry Styles is not quitting One Direction, his management says
booksManagement confirms that rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Economics, Finance)

£23000 per annum: Harrington Starr: First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Ec...

Drama Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?