Last updated: 22 April 2021
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. Medicines are the most common treatments offered to NHS patients. A pharmacist is an expert in medicines and their use. Their knowledge of medicines and the effect they have on the human body is critical for the successful management of every type of medical condition. Pharmacists are also involved in manufacturing medicines when ready-made preparations are not available. For example, certain cancer treatments and intravenous feeding solutions need to be tailor made under sterile conditions for individual patients.
A day in the life
- advise other healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses, on how to choose medicines and use them correctly
- ensure that new medicines are safe to use with other medication
- advise on dosage and suggest the most appropriate form of medication such as tablet, injection, ointment or inhaler
- make sure that patients use their medicines safely
- provide information to patients on how get the maximum benefit from the medicines they are prescribed
- advise on the most effective treatments for a particular condition including those for sale without prescription
- help patients manage long term conditions
- recommend changes to prescriptions and give advice on prescribing
- provide information about potential side effects
- monitor the effects of treatment to ensure that it is safe and effective
Once qualified, many pharmacists join the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS). Registered pharmacists have to keep their skills and knowledge up to date with annual continuing professional development (CPD). The RPS runs courses, conferences and seminars where pharmacists can exchange ideas and update their skills.
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.
For more information regarding joining our team, please submit a form through the ‘Contact us’ page or contact the Human Resources team, who are more than happy to help, on 02392 286577 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What made you become a pharmacist? - I have been a clinical hospital pharmacist for 28 years; 6 years ago, I specialised as a renal pharmacist. I love renal pharmacy, we have a diverse mix of patients, medical, surgical admissions and all of them requiring lots of our input. Many medications need doses adjusting when your kidneys aren’t working, lots of our patients are diabetic and need support to optimise their control which we help to co-ordinate. Renal patients tend to be on multiple medicines, I work to ensure the combination works well and is optimised for each patient.
How did you become a pharmacist? - I undertook a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree at Cardiff University followed by a pre-registration year. I subsequently completed a 2-year Clinical Pharmacy Diploma followed by the Independent Prescribing Course.
What do you do on a day to day basis? - I work as part of the multidisciplinary team on the wards to optimise medication therapy and to prepare medications for discharge, promote health, and disease prevention. I help the doctors in individualising and tailoring drug therapy for their patients. I support the nursing staff in drug administration whilst ensuring timely access to medication. I have been able to transform care whilst at PHU with the support of the Renal Unit. To prevent delays to discharge, I proactively prescribe and order discharge medication whilst writing a comprehensive letter to GP’s explaining all the changes. I provide tailored medication advice to patients making their regimes easy to understand.
I take an active role in patient safety, ensuring incidents are reported and learning completed whilst trying to ensure safety is improved.
For renal transplant patients I participate in the transplant clinic, providing all ongoing transplant medication and offer educational support. I support the renal anaemia team, developing guidance and mechanisms to ensure safe prescribing.
Why did you choose PHU? - I chose PHU because this is the regional centre for renal patients, we are a big dialysis centre as well as offering home haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and many transplants every year.
What do you enjoy about being a pharmacist? - I love my job, every day there are new and different challenges. I see the difference I make to patient care, and how grateful the patients, nurses and doctors are for the job I do.
Career plans and advice for others - There are many additional roles and opportunities working at a national level which become available once you become experienced in this role . I am Educational Lead for the Renal Pharmacy Group (a national group supporting other renal pharmacists) and have been working for NICE on the latest CKD guidance about to be published. Get trained and come and join the team!