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 international applicants page.
Applying for the pharmacist pre-registration scheme
After successful completion of the MPharm (4-year course) 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. The pre-registration year is a paid work placement which will further develop your skills in a professional environment. You should be aware that entry to a pre-registration year is competitive and there is no guarantee that you will receive a place.
Before making an application, you should read carefully the General Pharmaceutical Council’s guide on Pre-Registration Pharmacist training and its requirements. For requirements for application in Northern Ireland, please read the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland’s Standards for Pre-Registration Training.
It is important to note that the information below is for guidance purposes only and should be confirmed with individual institutions directly.
The pre-registration year
For a good source of information on pre-registration placements in NHS hospitals in England and Wales, visit the Health Education England website. For information on applying in Scotland, visit the NHS Education Scotland website. In Northern Ireland adverts are sent to schools of pharmacy.
Community pharmacist placements can vary in availability and are highly competitive. They are often organised through the pharmacy companies before the end of your final year of study.
There are also a very limited number of opportunities for split placements, for example a placement involving six months in a hospital and another six in a community pharmacy or in industry. This is the only way of getting a placement in industry as 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 gain registration. You should inform your pharmacy school if you are interested in a split placement.
After completing 52 weeks of pre-registration training you must pass the General Pharmaceutical Council registration exam after which you will be able to register and practise as a pharmacist. For applicants in Northern Ireland, you must register with the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
To find out more about the pre-registration year, see the General Pharmaceutical Council’s website.
After graduating, completing the pre-registration year and registering with the General Pharmaceutical Council, there are a number of roles you can work in, such as:
- Community pharmacy
- Hospital pharmacy
- Industrial pharmacy
- Academic pharmacy
- Miscellaneous (such as journalism, banking, food industry etc)
Other roles include working in GP practices, military, veterinary sector, regulatory affair departments, care homes, clinical academia and portfolio careers.
Further study and Revalidation
For more information on pharmacy roles, visit the Royal Pharmaceutical website.
Many pharmacists will also consider completing post graduate qualifications. These can range from certificates and diplomas to undertaking a PhD.
There is currently ongoing discussion led by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society relating to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and the recognition of post-graduate qualifications in a professional framework structure.
You should note that it is a requirement by the General Pharmaceutical Council that pharmacists maintain their registration and submit a CPD portfolio each year. This ensures that a pharmacist’s skills are up to date and involves recording learning activities and reflective work.
Information on the revalidation criteria and process are available on the General Pharmaceutical Council website.
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.
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.