Pharmacy explores the discovery, production, disposal, and safe and effective use of medications. Pharmacists are experts in medicines and their use for patient benefit. Their understanding of how to apply science to clinical situations enables them to make a unique contribution to patient care. A healthy population depends on the appropriate use of medicines and access to good healthcare advice, and pharmacists’ expertise in the field of medicines and their uses for patients makes them a key part of safeguarding the health of the population.


What do Pharmacists do?

The role of the pharmacist, no matter where they work, is person-centred; this means that their role will impact patients and the public. As well as having extensive and up to date scientific knowledge, pharmacists must also be able to communicate and show empathy to achieve the trust of the public so that people go to them for help and advice.

Some of the key roles and repsonsibilities of a pharmacist includes:

  • Prescribing medication
  • Managing the storage of medication. 
  • Diagnosing minor ailments – aches/pains, flu, skin rashes.
  • Giving advice to patients, such as how to safely take their medication and how to make the right medical choices for them. 
  • Helping individuals and wider public through healthy living services such as help to stop smoking or substance misuse.
  • Researching, designing, developing, and testing new medicines.
  • Administering vaccines.
  • Working with research nurses in clinical trials.

Where do Pharmacists work?

The majority of community pharmacists in the UK work in independent or retail chain pharmacies, as well as GP surgeries and health centres. Hospital pharmacists often work for hospitals within the NHS and some work for private hospitals. However, pharmacists can also work in a diverse range of settings including: 

  • Research centres
  • 111 Helpline
  • Festivals
  • Armed Forces
  • Journalism


What is a Pharmacy technician?

Pharmacy Technicians work under the supervision of a Pharmacist, providing medicines to patients and managing medical supplies. A large part of a Pharmacy Technician’s role is communicating with patients, advising them on their health and giving them information about the medicines they have been prescribed. Pharmacy Technicians are also involved in health checks, such as taking someone’s blood pressure, and administering vaccinations. A Pharmacy Technician may also supervise other staff, such as Pharmacy Assistants. Many pharmacy technicians will go on to complete a pharmacy degree or degree apprenticehsip in order to qualify as a pharmacist. 

Listen to Dan talk about his role as a pharmacy techinician and the different career pathways available:

What qualifications do you need?

  • Pharmacist
    • Masters Degree (4 or 5 years) recognised by the General Pharmaceutical Council.​
    • Registration with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).​
    • 3 A-Levels or equivalent, plus supporting GCSE’s. Aim for high A-Level grades.​
    • Specific subjects: Chemistry, maybe Biology or another Science, or Maths.​
    • Experience of working/volunteering or shadowing someone in a healthcare setting.​
    • After their degree, Pharamacy graduates complete 12 months of training and an exam.​
  • Pharmacy Technician
    • 2 year approved Pharmacy Technician course.​
    • Usually a Level 3 Apprenticeship with a Pharmacy.​
    • Usually 4 GCSE’s (9-4) or equivalent including Maths, English Language and Science.  ​
    • After course, registeration with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).​

Why study Pharmacy?

Pharmacy could be for you if want to:

  • Be at the forefront of combatting disease
  • Work at the centre of a community
  • Develop your leadership and communication skills
  • Pursue scientific research
  • Always have an opportunity to develop your knowledge.