What is a community pharmacist?
Community pharmacists are experts in medicine. They are an essential part of the wider health and care system and they work on the front line of health care supporting patients and their families.
Pharmacists are responsible for the medicines supplied to a patient. They advise patients about how they can get the most from their medications and how they can manage illnesses.
They also provide range of clinical service like vaccinations, contraception services and blood pressure monitoring.
What does a community pharmacist do?
The role of a community pharmacist is really varied – so it is difficult to define a “typical day”. However, some of the day to day jobs of a pharmacist might include:
- Making sure that patients know how to use or take their medicines safely (i.e. how much and how often to take medicine) and how to get the maximum benefit from their medicines.
- Ensuring that any new medicines a patient is prescribed are safe to use with other medications the patient might also be taking.
- Advising on the most effective treatments for conditions.
- Helping patients manage long term conditions such as asthma, blood pressure and diabetes.
- Recommending changes to prescriptions and giving advice on prescribing. Some pharmacists also prescribe medicines.
- Providing information about potential side effects of medicines.
- Monitoring the effects of new treatments.
- Providing services such as blood pressure testing and monitoring and contraception.
- Delivering vaccinations this includes flu vaccinations and travel vaccinations as well as the covid vaccine – which pharmacists have played a key role in delivering.
From 2021 the curriculum for pharmacists is changing. These changes will enable all pharmacists to qualify as prescribers. This exciting change means they will be able to prescribe medicines to patients – and as a result, have an even bigger role in supporting their patients and communities.
How do I become a community pharmacist?
Pharmacists working in England, Scotland and Wales must register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). There are a number of steps you must take before you can register as a pharmacist:
- The first step is completing a pharmacy degree from an accredited university. The degree takes four year and is a science-based course.
- In your fifth year you will need to complete a year of (paid!) training. This year, known as the foundation year, (this was previously called the pre-registration trainee year) will allow you to build your skills and confidence in the workplace.
- The next step is passing the GPhC Registration Assessment.
- Finally, you must meet the fitness to practice requirements for registration as a pharmacist. This means you have the the skills, knowledge, character and health necessary to do your job safely.
How much do community pharmacists get paid?
Community pharmacy salaries are constantly reviewed based on the current circumstances and, as such, may vary.
A trainee pharmacist in their foundation year working in Community Pharmacy can expect to be paid around £17,000 – £25,000 a year.
A newly qualified pharmacist can expect to earn around £35,000 – £45,000 per year.
This will depend on prior experience, benefits, numbers of hours worked and where in the UK they are based.
This may rise to over £50,000 depending on experience, qualifications, and location.