Clinical Pharmacist give expert advice on the use and supply of medication. They can work in a range of clinical settings such as community pharmacies, general practices and in hospitals. There are also opportunities to work in pharmaceutical companies, research and teaching. You could work in the army, airforce or navy and there are lots of management roles too. You can work anywhere in the world. Why not join our webinars and learn more —>
How to become a clinical pharmacist
- School / College
Usually need at least 5 GCSE, science subjects. Entrance to university needs to have 3 A levels, range of AAb to BBB. Needs to include chemistry.
4 year Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree, approved by the General Pharmaceutical Council. Followed by 1 year pre-registration training course in Pharmacy.
If you do not have the qualifications to get onto a MPharm degree, you could do a 2-year pharmacy foundation degree. You would then work as a pharmacy assistant or technician and apply to enter the MPharm degree in its second year.
A day in the life of a clinical pharmacist
this section outlines what it’s like being a clinical pharmacist.
As a Pharmacist in General Practice, you get to know your patients and colleagues really well!
Patient will call the Practice or come in and see you to discuss medication queries, advice regarding contraception, reviews for blood pressure and routine blood tests required. You work in a close knit team, with GPs, Nurses, Allied Health Care Professionals and reception team. As a Team, we are always questioning ways to make systems better for our local community. We motivate, support and inspire each other ! I am always excited for the day’s challenges, every day brings something new! By the end of the day I feel really fulfilled with the positive contributions I have made to the local community.
Podcast – clinical pharmacist
What we would like to discuss with you is what its like to work as a clinical pharmacist. We have a few questions to ask: what is it really like being a clinical pharmacist? How did you at the age of 17 or 18 decide what you wanted to do? And were there any challenges that you had to overcome?
How did you get started as a Clinical Pharmacist?
It pretty much started with me doing my independent prescribing course. So as a prescriber I specialise in high blood pressure and prescribing various other things. Then I was doing some work experience, banking hours as part of my independent prescribing. So one of the managers, at one of the surgeries I was working at, noticed me. I started talking with them and I asked them about working as a clinical pharmacist within their practice and they kindly mentioned to me that there was a job going. Luckily I’m working here now four days a week. So that’s how I got started as a clinical pharmacist in the PCN.
What is a clinical pharmacist and what do they do different to a community pharmacist?
Community pharmacy will deal with all of the queries coming from general practice. So anything related to prescription queries that’s all dealt with as a community pharmacist. Any medicine stock queries, medicines coming in and out and any medicine changes are all dealt with by a community pharmacist. They also handle over-the-counter medicines. If patients are on existing listings and they are going to buy medicine over the counter, they need to have expert knowledge. This is because they need to know what the patient wants to buy and what the patient is already taking. So that’s the community side of pharmacy.
Clinical pharmacist is a pharmacist in a GP practice. You’re involved in the patient’s care all the way from the start to the end. You can liaise with multiple members of a multidisciplinary team. So you work closely with GPs and other health care professionals such as nurses and physician associates as well. We all work together to get the best care for the patient. So you do medication reviews, patient reviews, asthma reviews and diabetes reviews.
We look at long term conditions as a clinical pharmacist and you really have to keep on top of it. So making sure that they have their bloods up-to-date, whether you see or call patients in a regular sense to make sure they’re doing okay with their medication and if there’s any changes you need to make. You also deal with queries as well within the surgery. So that’s pretty much the life of a clinical pharmacist.
What subjects did you take to become a clinical pharmacist?
I wasn’t exactly fortunate enough to get best A Level results. I went through a period of time where I lost one of my grandparents every single year of an exam. So I didn’t really get good results I think I got the bare minimum 3 Cs. Then I have my family always telling me to go into medicine. I have lots of doctors and surgeons in the family, but I didn’t really want to do it, so I kind of went out of spite and did pharmacy.
It worked out for the best for me. So I continued to do what I like and I have a degree in clinical biochemistry. With that I then thought I’d go and get some experience working in a GP practice, experience working in a pharmacy and in a dentistry as well. It was good for me to go and sit in with a few people and then I really liked the idea of being an expert in medicine and knowing everything about it so that will be a dream to do pharmacy.
The next step was that I did my independent prescribing course. Which is very helpful in terms of if you’re managing a patient long term and you want to prescribe them something that’s in your area of focus. With this you don’t have to go through the GPs, you can just prescribe them something.
What university did you study at?
So firstly I went to London South Bank University and I did my clinical biochemistry degree. Then I moved to the University of Reading and did a masters in Pharmacy. This was the best four years of my life. I recently went back and did my independent prescribing course at the University of Reading as well.
How long does it take to do the independent prescribing course?
If you’re already a pharmacist, and you have one to two years of work experience since you’ve qualified, you can do the course within six months. However, that’s going to change soon. So new pharmacists, or new people studying pharmacy, will have the independent prescriber course already integrated depending on which university you go to. That will make it easy for students to study pharmacy and then do their independent prescribing at the same time.
How did you find it when your parents wanted you to take a different route to what you intended?
It was very difficult. When you come from a family who have a background of being successful doctors and surgeons in America and your whole family wants you to go there but it’s not something you want to do, it becomes very difficult. I loved my life here in London so it was very, very difficult for me. I just stuck to my guns, and I knew that I was more than capable of finding my own feet in a field that I would love myself.
It was a struggle and just saying, “I’m good enough and I want to wait and see what field is best for me”. I would always say to somebody “if you’re not happy in your job, then why are you doing it?”. That’s why I went and did experience days in different fields of medicine just to find out what I would love. Eventually, my parents got over the fact that I didn’t want to do medicine because I’m a prescriber now so it all worked out well in the end. If it isn’t going to work out at the start, it will eventually work out.
If someone took a gap year, would that hurt their chances of becoming a pharmacist?
Not really. That year that you take out, you probably realise your aspirations and what you really want to do which will be more than worth it in the long run.