Do you want to be a pharmacist in the UK?

Can you:
1. Make patients your first concern 
2. Use your professional judgement in the interests of patients and the public 
3. Show respect for others 
4. Encourage patients and the public to participate in decisions about their care 
5. Develop your professional knowledge and competence 
6. Be honest and trustworthy 
7. Take responsibility for your working practices?1

Then you could be a pharmacist in the UK.  Or, if you are already on the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC’s) register and you meet these standards, you are exactly what the GPhC wants a pharmacist to be.  Why not use your expertise to lead the profession forwards?

To become a pharmacist in the UK, you need to pass a Master of Pharmacy degree, which takes four years, work as a pre-registration trainee pharmacist for a year under the supervision of a pharmacist tutor (to become an independent professional) and then pass a registration assessment.  (There are alternative routes to UK registration for pharmacists who have qualified overseas and details are found on the GPhC website2).  Offers from Schools of Pharmacy in recent years have asked for ABB grades at A level and upwards, usually in science or maths subjects and including chemistry.  

But what sort of attributes suit the role?  

In surveys of public opinion, pharmacy is a well regarded profession.  The job is changing as  the government starts to pay community pharmacists for services such as encouraging patients to stop smoking or reviewing a patient’s medicine use as well as the traditional work of dispensing prescriptions.  As the National Health Service (NHS) changes, pharmacy has to work with the new commissioners (those buying health services) to expand this service-led business model.  How can the pharmacy profession help General Practitioners (GPs –  family doctors)?  What sort of service can pharmacy take on? For example, treating simple sore throats under a patient group direction (a defined agreement guiding diagnosis and treatment) or monitoring people with long term conditions by measuring blood sugar in diabetes?

In hospital, pharmacists are involved in the multidisciplinary healthcare team and have responsibilities that range from offering clinical advice on drug use and monitoring medication to managing the use of expensive new medicines.

In primary care, pharmacists work in GP practices to improve medicines management.  They ask questions such as whether medicines are being used correctly (clinically and cost-effectively)?  Or are patients fully aware of why and how to take their medicines?

And pharmacists work in universities, the pharmaceutical industry, prisons, the armed forces and government (the Department of Health).  Registering as a pharmacist can lead to a variety of rewarding roles and a career that can change as your interests alter.

Would you / do you put patients first?
Would you /do you stay ten minutes late to make sure Mrs Patel gets her painkillers?
Would you / do you act as a professional?
Would you /do you keep your complaints about your aching feet to yourself?
Would you / do you show respect?
Would you /do you take the nervous young girl into the private consulting room to talk about contraception?
Would you / do you engage patients in their care?
Would you /do you take the time to explain to Mr Jones how to use his new angina spray?
Would you / do you show knowledge and competence?
Would you /do you spend half a weekend on a training course?
Are you honest and trustworthy?
Would you /do you maintain your integrity without listening to other voices?
Would you / do you cope with the responsibility of the role?   
Would you cope with having sleepless nights worrying whether you made a mistake that might endanger a patient?   Are you able to switch off at the end of the day?

If the answer is a resounding YES I WOULD, then you could be a pharmacist in the UK.  And get a good job with decent pay.  If the answer is a resounding YES I DO, well done – how about becoming a leader and taking the profession forward into the new NHS?

And one day, you realise that Mr Evans doesn’t need an indigestion mixture for his chest pain but needs to see his GP and get some angina medication; or Steve has stopped smoking; or Mr Anderson hasn’t been readmitted to the ward lately… and you’re proud that you made a difference. 

But your feet ache!