After the MPharm or OSPAP
This page makes clear the pathway for graduating students of pharmacy and the options available to them. The information here could be useful for students of all levels.
Information on the OSPAP can be found on the Prospective Students page.
The pre-registration year
After successful completion of the MPharm or OSPAP you will need to take a pre-registration year in order to be permitted registration with the regulator of pharmacists, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). The pre-registration year is a work placement on which you will further develop your skills and where you will be in a paid position in a professional environment. Entry to a pre-registration year is competitive and there is no guarantee that you will receive a place.
For a good source of information on pre-registration placements in NHS hospitals in England and Wales, and how to apply for these, visit the NHS’s Pharmalife website. For information on applying in Scotland, visit the NHS Education Scotland website. In Northern Ireland adverts are sent to schools of pharmacy, along with being placed n the local press.
Community pharmacist placements can vary in availability so again there is no guarantee of a pre-registration place. They are organised through the pharmacy companies before the end of the MPharm’s final year.
There are a very limited number of opportunities for split placements, which for example is to have six months in a hospital and then another six in a community pharmacy or in industry. This is the only way of getting a placement in industry because at least six months of the pre-registration year must be in a patient-facing role (in a hospital or community pharmacy) in order to be permitted registration with the GPhC. If a split placement interests you then enquire at your pharmacy school to see if it is available.
At the satisfactory completion of 52 weeks of pre-registration training you will sit an exam. Once this has been passed you will be eligible to register with the GPhC and practise as a fully qualified pharmacist. Note that having taken a pre-registration year in a particular occupational area does not limit you to working only there. The key to the whole process is to achieve registration.
At this point you will be able to pursue a career in either hospital pharmacy, community pharmacy, pharmaceutical science, or academic pharmacy. There are also a number of other science careers you will be well equipped to work in, such as medical sales, journalism or laboratory science.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has prepared some introductory videos to some of these and they can be found on the
Prospective Students page.
Once qualified, pharmacists can also pursue additional training to specialise in certain areas. Pharmacists with a Special Interest (PhwSI) work as part of a wider primary care team in the community to deliver care and develop expertise in long-term conditions, as well as advising on the management of medicines so that they work as effectively as possible. There is a good deal of information on this on the NHS Primary Care Contracting website.
Some pharmacists also go on to progress their careers through studying for a further degree, for example in clinical pharmacy, which supports pharmacists to make an active contribution in decisions about patient care and in negotiating with other healthcare professionals.
Visas for pre-registration placement
International students applying for a pre-registration placement are very likely to require a visa, and this will be dependent on meeting a number of conditions, potentially including a minimum salary requirement, which may vary according to the type of visa. Pre-registration placements in the community or hospital setting are likely to attract different salaries and so international students should be aware of the effects of this on the type of visa they can apply for.
It is important for international students to familiarise themselves with the rules as early as possible. More information can be found on the Pharmalife website. International students considering a community pharmacy placement should note the information on Tier 5 visas.