A guide to studying Pharmacy at university. Including what to expect, reasons to consider the subject area, application tips and a careers overview. Featuring the University of Bradford.
Why study Pharmacy at university?
Pharmacy is an exciting area of growth currently. As part of the NHS long term plan there is a push to upskill pharmacists and thousands of clinical pharmacy professionals will be employed to support GPs who are under increasing pressure. Patients and the public will increasingly rely on clinical care provided by pharmacy professionals, who will give advice, diagnosis, medication and support. This means that there will be lots more jobs in pharmacy.
Watch this section on the video from 0:41 – 1:49
What is a Pharmacist?
A pharmacist is an expert in medicines, they need to understand how medicines are made and formulated and understand different diseases and how they are treated. A pharmacist also has a legal responsibility for the safe dispensation and sale of medication to the public. Pharmacists educate and support people to manage their medicines, they help with treatment of minor illnesses and give advice on the prevention of diseases. In the next five years or so, to support the NHS long term plan, all pharmacists will be prescribers when they qualify.
Watch this section on the video from 1:49 – 2:57
What careers does studying Pharmacy lead to?
Pharmacy graduates can work in community pharmacies which involves the safe supply of prescribed medication and over the counter medication sales, giving advice on the treatment of minor illnesses and helping with disease prevention, for example giving flu vaccinations. Pharmacists are also employed in hospitals, giving expert advice on medication to doctors and helping with the manufacture of medication, for example drugs for chemotherapy.
Pharmacists are also needed in industry for research and development of new drugs and formulations and licensing and clinical trials of new medications. Pharmacists are required in a broad area of careers that is set to become even broader, especially with the advent of the NHS long-term plan. There are also career opportunities outside of the pharmacist role, including teaching, management roles within the NHS, publishing, further study, e.g. PhD and further research.
Watch this section on the video from 2:57 – 7:57
How do you become a Pharmacist?
There are two routes to become a registered pharmacist, usually a 4 year MPharm degree course followed by paid employment in a preregistration foundation year, following which a general pharmaceutical exam (GPhC) needs to be passed.
The second option, currently only offered by Bradford School of Pharmacy, is a 5 year ‘sandwich’ course which incorporates two six month paid placements, one at the start of the fourth year and one at the end of the fifth year, following which students take the (GPhC) exam. This second ‘sandwich course’ options allows two different types of placement to be tried.
Watch this section on the video from 7:58 – 10:14
What to expect on a Pharmacy university course?
On a Pharmacy course you will undertake modules which will include human physiology in health and disease, studies of medicines and pharmaceuticals, health and wellbeing, psychology and professional practice including the relevant laws and ethics. Modules will develop necessary skills and capabilities to become a good health care professional as well as pharmaceutical knowledge. Pharmacy courses are taught through lectures, team-based learning, lab classes, prescription processing classes, student support seminars and some work based learning. You should find out the teaching styles adopted at different universities to find the best course for you.
Watch this section on the video from 10:15 – 14:27
Application tips for Pharmacy at university
It is important to convey in your personal statement your motivation for pursuing a health career course. You will need to give examples, with evidence, of any work experience that you have, whether paid or voluntary, and state why this experience is relevant.
You should talk about your achievements, knowledge gained and skills learned and how these can be applied during your studies and future employment. You could also talk about how you see yourself developing and the type of career you hope for. It is important that you check your personal statement for spelling and grammar, pharmacists need good attention to detail therefore a ‘polished’ personal statement is important.
Most schools of pharmacy interview prospective students; these can be competency based interviews, asking for examples of how you have dealt with a situation; you are also likely to be asked about the values needed to be a health care professional and how you have demonstrated these values. You will be asked about your motivation for the course and what you have learned during any work experience. It is important that you also have questions ready to ask yourself, for example: What will you study on the course? Are there many elective modules? What type of learning and teaching strategies are used? What type of work-based learning is used?
It is important that you get the most out of any university visits and interviews that you have, to find out about the courses and if that university is right for you.
Watch this section on the video from 14:27 – 20:51
Thanks to the expert speaker (featuring on the video):
Dr Samantha McLean, Associate Professor in Pharmacology and Director of Marketing and Admissions in the School of Pharmacy & Medical Sciences at the University of Bradford.
Event Recorded: Thursday, September 30, 2021 at 12:00