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Pharmacists are experts in medicines and their use. They also offer health advice to patients on issues such as sexual health and giving up smoking.
Training and qualifications required
You need to study for an accredited Masters degree in pharmacy (MPharm). Universities across the UK offer the course, which lasts four years, full time. To get onto a course you need three A-B grade A-levels in chemistry and biology, maths or physics along with five GCSEs (grades A-C), including English language, maths and at least one science. Some universities will accept alternative qualifications.
Expected working hours and salary range
Pharmacists working in the NHS will work standard hours of around 37.5 a week which may include shifts. Newly qualified pharmacists will usually start in the NHS at band 6 and with further experience and training can apply for posts up to band 9. Terms and conditions can vary for pharmacists outside of the NHS, including those working in high street and retail pharmacies.
Desirable skills and values
Skills needed to be a pharmacist include good customer and science skills, an interest in people’s health, being able to work with all types of people and explain clearly to members of the public.
You may choose to specialise in a particular area of practice such as mental health, oncology (cancer treatment) or paediatrics. Teaching or research are also options. Some pharmacists move into areas such as the regulation of medicines, veterinary pharmacy or into industry. You could also move into management, either within pharmacy or general management. As head of a local pharmacy service you would be responsible both for a team of staff and for managing a budget. Some pharmacists decide to set up their own pharmacies in high street shops, either working on their own or with other professionals.
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