What do pharmacists do?

Pharmacists are experts in medicines and their use. Pharmacists have a unique knowledge of medicines from manufacture to their use in patients, spanning discovery, synthesis, formulation, manufacturing, quality assurance, distribution, therapeutics, and monitoring. Pharmacists provide healthcare in the high street, work in hospitals and GP practices and undertake medicines research in industry or universities. Pharmacists can now become prescribers, allowing them to care for patients' drug-related needs following medical diagnosis. It is a very flexible career with opportunities for full and part-time working.

A high percentage of pharmacy graduates pursue a career in pharmacy as a profession.

Where do they work?

Pharmacists work in supermarket and  high street pharmacies, in hospitals and doctor's surgeries, in the pharmaceutical industry and in universities. Pharmacists are increasingly involved in medical research

Types of Pharmacy Jobs

Community pharmacist

These work in high street, supermarket and rural pharmacies. They ensure that medicines ordered on prescription or bought over the counter are correctly and safely supplied. People skills are important as you build relationships with patients. As well as giving out prescriptions, you advise people on how to use medicines in safe and appropriate ways. Also involves financial management and responsibility for staff, premises and stock.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain

Hospital pharmacist

They are responsible for the purchase, manufacture, dispensing, quality testing and supply of all the medicines used in the hospital. They advise medical and nursing staff on the selection and appropriate use of medicines, and provide help and advice to patients in all aspects of their medicines. They provide information about potential side effects and ensure that new treatments are compatible with existing medication. In addition, they monitor the effects of treatment to ensure that it is safe and effective. Pharmacist in the NHS www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/details/Default.aspx?Id=194

Primary care pharmacist

A doctor was due to give a presentation at a prestigious international pharmaceutical conference when he suddenly realised that he had left the pen drive containing his presentation back in his hotel room, so he was forced to fall back on his hastily scribbled first draft.

But when he got up to make his presentation he found that he couldn't even read his own handwriting in the draft. So after walking up to the podium he asked his audience: “Is there a pharmacist in the house?”

The role of the primary care pharmacist has emerged over the last ten years. They have a strategic role, making the best use of resources allocated for medicines and ensuring they are well spent. They also analyse medicines and work closely with hospitals, GPs, practice nurses and other community healthcare professionals. Pharmacist in the NHS www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/details/Default.aspx?Id=194

Industrial pharmacist

Industrial pharmacists work alongside scientists in the pharmaceutical industry who specialise in other areas to discover new ways of combating disease and  improving manufacturing and production techniques. Pharmaceutical and Bioscience Links www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sitephar.htm

Regulatory pharmacist

Regulatory pharmacists work for Government bodies such as the MHRA   which protects public health. Their job is to ensure that medicines submitted by drug companies are safe before they can be manufactured and marketed to the public.

Academic pharmacist

These spend on average around 60% of their time working in hospital, community or industrial pharmacy and the other 40% of the time as a pharmacy teacher or lecturer. They also research drug design and the provision of pharmacy services.

Royal Army Medical Corps www.army.mod.uk/army-medical-services/5319.aspx

Pharmacists can be commissioned into the RAMC as Pharmacist officers either as direct entry qualified candidates or via sponsorship (see below). The Pharmacist is responsible for the timely distribution of drugs, dressings and medical equipment in general to all units in the theatre of operations. You must be 34 years or under, although pharmacists over 34 may be considered in exceptional circumstances. The Army can offer some sponsorships to selected undergraduate pharmacy student who would have a return of service of 6 years.

Veterinary Pharmacist

Veterinary pharmacists supplying a service to pet owners including treatments for cats and dogs for problems with worms and fleas. Pharmacists in rural settings supply medicines for farm livestock.
Veterinary Pharmacy Careers Conference Saturday 2 – Sunday 3 July 2011 Royal Pharmaceutical Society in association with the Veterinary Pharmacist’s Group. Royal York Hotel, York www.rpharms.com/conferences/veterinary-pharmacy.asp

Becoming a Registered Pharmacist

Before you can register as a pharmacist in the UK you need to undertake one year of pre-registration training following your pharmacy degree (if you have done a sandwich course, this is integrated with your degree).

Destinations of University of Kent Pharmacy Graduates

MPharm Pharmacy 2009

Employed FT Lincs Hospital/Derby Univ. Pharmacist/MSc Pharmacy
Employed FT Harrogate Hospital/MPHARM Pre registration Pharmacist
Employed FT Barts Hospital//RPSGB Pre- Registration Pharmacist
Employed FT Canterbury Hospital/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Karsons Pharmacy//RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT HE Matthews Pharmacy/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Boots the Chemist//RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Boots the Chemist Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Worcestershire  Health Trust Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT QE Hospital/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Boots the Chemist/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Hillingdon Hospital/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Lloyds Pharmacy//RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Boots the Chemist/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Tesco Pharmacy//RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Tesco Pharmacy/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Paydens/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Boots the Chemist/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Canterbury Hospital/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Kent & Sussex Hosp./MPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Crofton MPharm Pharmacy/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Boots the Chemist/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT QE Hospital/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT SS Basra Pharmacy/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Boots the Chemist/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Pelton Chemist/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Lloyds Pharmacy//RPSGB Pre-Registration Pharmacist
Employed FT Boots//RPSGB Trainee Pharmacist
Employed FT Burrage Pharmacy/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
Employed FT Ducans Pharmacy/RPSGB Pre-Reg Pharmacist
9 Further Study Medway School of Pharmacy MPharm
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MPharm Pharmacy 2008

Further Study University of Kent, School of Pharmacy M Pharm Pharmacy
Further Study UKC - Medway M.Pharm
Further Study UKC - Medway M.Pharm
Employed FT Andrew McCoig Pharmacy Pharmacist
Employed FT Greenlight Pharmacy Pharmacist
Employed FT Shaunak Pharmacy Pharmacist
Employed FT Britannia Pharmacy Pharmacist
Employed FT Boots the Chemist Pharmacist
Employed FT Central Middlesex Hospital Pharmacist
Employed FT Imperial College NHS Trust Pharmacist
Employed FT Delmagate Pharmacist
Employed FT Delmergate Pharmacist
Employed FT Bromley Hospital Pharmacist
Employed FT Alliance Pharmacy (Boots) Pharmacist
Employed FT Hawks Pharmacy Pharmacist
Employed FT Oxleys Hospital Pharmacist
Employed FT Queen & King Georges Hospital Pharmacist
Employed FT Dana Pharmacy Pharmacist
Employed FT Co-op Pharmacy Pharmacist
Employed FT Austinoma Chemist Pharmacist
Employed FT Cross Pharmacy Pharmacist
Employed FT Boots Pharmacist
Employed FT ABC Pharmacy Pharmacist
Employed FT Lewis Grove Pharmacy Pharmacist
Employed FT Apex Pharmacy Pharmacist
Employed FT Apex Pharmacy Pre Registration Pharmacist
Employed FT Felton Chemist Pre Registration Pharmacist
Employed FT The Co-operative Pre Registration Pharmacist/Pre-reg Course
Employed FT Boots Pre-registration Pharmacist
Employed FT Medway Hospital Pre-registration Pharmacist
Employed FT Boots the Chemist Pre-registration Pharmacist/Pre-reg. Course
Employed FT Darrent Valley Hospital Pharmacist

Other Science Careers

Pharmacy graduates can enter a wide range of other science careers outside pharmacy. For details of these including medicine, laboratory science, science teaching, medical sales, information technology, patent work, bioinformatics see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/ScienceJobs.htm

Careers Outside Science

Science graduates are attractive to many employers because of their personal transferable skills rather than the specific skills that they have gained during their degree course. These skills include the ability to analyse information in a logical way, numeracy and problem solving skills. Jobs using these skills include:

A chart of jobs that can be entered with any degree subject is at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/careermap.htm

Postgraduate Study

Your pharmacy degree is the first step in your career as a pharmacist but your learning certainly does not finish with your degree.

You must pass your pre-registration year and examination so that you can register and practise as a pharmacist. Medway School of Pharmacy (and others) offers courses to help you successfully complete your pre-registration training.  

If you decide on a career in hospital pharmacy you will be encouraged to register in accredited work-based programmes such as the Postgraduate (PG) Diploma in General Pharmacy Practice.

Those going into community pharmacy will need accreditation to provide certain enhanced services; increasingly these can provide you with academic credits such as Medway School of Pharmacy’s Skills for MURs programme which accredits pharmacists to provide medicines use review services and there are a variety of certificates, diplomas and MScs to help you develop your career.

You may also decide that you want to develop your research by undertaking a PhD. Grants are more easily available in the Sciences for postgraduate study than in the Arts or Social Sciences. It should be remembered though that research for a PhD will require dedication and determination to see things through over a period of 3 or more years: especially when experiments are not going right!. See www.kent.ac.uk/careers/postgrad.htm

Schools of Pharmacy offer a range of post-graduate programmes – why not start by checking out what Medway School of Pharmacy offers: www.msp.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/index.html

If you are unsure which postgraduate courses would be most relevant to you, or want to discuss the implications of the different courses available, contact your tutor or arrange to speak to a careers adviser.

Also see the University of Kent Postgraduate Study web pages www.kent.ac.uk/careers/postgradmenu.htm

Applying for pharmacy jobs

See the example pharmacy CVs at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/cv/cvexamples.htm


Interview Questions for Pharmacy Pre-Reg Placements

Motivation questions

  • Why did you choose to study pharmacy?
  • Why do you wish to become a pharmacist?
  • Why have you chosen to apply to us?
  • Why do you want to work in community/hospital pharmacy?
  • Why should we hire you? What is special about you and what makes you different from other applicants?
  • How do you measure personal success?

Qualification & Experience related questions

  • What subjects did you enjoy most and least on your course?
  • Tell me about your work experience

Practice based questions

  • Tell me about a drug that has been in the news recently
  • What do you think about pharmacists being given prescribing powers?
  • Describe the importance of understanding diversity as a pharmacist
  • Why is pharmacy considered a profession?
  • What are the most important attributes of a pharmacist?
  • What is one of the major issues facing pharmacists today?
  • Give me an example of drug-drug interaction and explain with the mechanism of action, what would you would do to prevent this
  • What are the qualities of good pharmacist?
  • What is the role of pre-registration training?

Competency based questions

  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an irate patient/customer. How did you handle the situation?
  • What kind of decisions do you find it most difficult to make?
  • Describe a time when you faced a challenging situation and how you handled it?
  • Tell us about a time when you have resolved conflict between yourself and a colleague
  • Give an example of time management that has increased your effectiveness
  • What is your usual approach to problem solving? What do you do when this doesn’t work?
  • Give an example of when you’ve had to communicate effectively to others, whilst working under pressure

General questions

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Tell us about your greatest achievement
  • What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
  • Give three reasons why we should offer you the job?
  • Questions about your CV.

Interview Report

The interview was with a community pharmacy and consisted of
  • a calculation test
  • a presentation which you did on your own with the interviewer and you had to talk about why you deserved a Pre-Registration placement with the company and what skills you could bring to the role of pharmacy manager
  • a group presentation which involved solving a scenario based problem. We were given time to discuss this with one another before giving feedback.


For the interview, the interviewer asked questions in relation to what was written in the CV, asking about experience and the university I was studying at. The other questions were as follows:

  • Describe one occasion when you felt you provided good customer service
  • How do you respond when given negative feedback about your behaviour?
  • What does good customer service mean to you? Can you give me an example?
  • What has been your greatest achievement so far?
  • Describe an occasion when you felt that you showed great team work?
  • How do respond to working under pressure?
  • How do you think you earn the respect of your staff and patients?

Pfizer Interview  for Pre-Reg Pharmacy position

The timetable was as follows:
  • 9.40 arrive at Pfizer
  • 10.00 Coffee with Peers
  • 10.20 Pre-reg overview
  • 10.50 HR Information gathering
  • 11.10 Technical interview
  • 12.10 Depart


The hour long technical interview was split into two parts, personal and technical. I was given a few minutes to review the technical questions.

Part 1:
  • Tell us about yourself.
  • Hobbies and recreational activities
  • Pharmacy experience and what you learned
  • Highlights of your pharmacy experience to date
  • Low points of your pharmacy experience to date
  • What makes a good team?
  • Give an example of an experience in a team you found good
  • Give an example of an experience in a team you found poor and how would you/did you rectify it?
  • Why Pfizer and why this programme?
  • What do you particularly want to see on the programme?
  • Why should we choose you?

Part 2: 7 questions in total
  • A simple calculation (not written or answer needed just how would you solve the following)
  • Why would there be a reduced yield % in tablet production (this was in relation to my calculation question)
  • What would have to be considered in the formulation of eye drops for glaucoma?
  • What is Glaucoma and what is used to treat it?
  • Questions regarding therapeutic window, Cmax, Tmax, biopharmaceutical reasons as to why the conc/time plot for a formulation may differ from population to population?
  • Why would you not skip straight from pre-clinical testing of a drug straight to phase 3 clinical trials?
  • How would you increase the solubility if a drug?
  • Proprieties important to aerosol formulation.

Lloyds Pharmacy Interview

He asked about:
  • My educational background, my grades at A-levels and at Uni
  • Employment background
  • A bit about what I'm studying at the moment
  • Why community pharmacy? Why not hospital?
  • Why Lloyds? Why not the pharmacy I currently worked at?
  • Within your friends, are you a leader, a follower, a reflector? Are you very opinionated? 
  • How would your home friends (not uni friends) describe you? 
  • How would you resolve a conflict within your friends? 
  • Have you ever had to tell tet pharmacist that they've made a mistake? How did you do that?...

And after my 'Responsible Pharmacist' presentation, he asked me a situational question: "If you were the branch manager and the RP at the time forgot to sign on in the morning, how would you deal with this if it was the first time? If it had happened more than once?"

Pharmacy students will be able to find all these answers in their MDM notes and Aulton's Pharmaceutics text available in the library. There were 150 applicants and only 21 were interviewed with only 6 places available so competition was very high.

Further help with pharmacy interviews

And our science interviews section at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/interviews/ivscience.htm

A selection of reports completed by students after they have been to interview. Give details of questions asked, tests administered and tips for candidates www.kent.ac.uk/careers-local/ivreps/ivrepsmenu.htm  

Practice Interviews for postgraduate study and science jobs, plus general interviews: www.kent.ac.uk/careers/interviews/mockivs.htm You will be asked common questions found in these interviews and given tips on how to answer them

Equality,  Diversity & Fitness to Practise

Fitness to practise is a key issue for Pharmacy students. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) has a responsibility to assess all who apply to register with the Society. This includes your good character, including any cautions or convictions, your health and whether you have been registered with other regulatory bodies. You will be assessed against both the Good Character Framework and the Health Assessment Framework.  Copies of both frameworks are available at www.rpsgb.org/acareerinpharmacy

In addition, as an MPharm student you have to adhere to the RPSGB Code of Conduct for Pharmacy Students and complete both the Self Declaration and Enhanced CRB check. Pharmacy is exempt from the rehabilitation of offenders legislation. Further information is available from the MSOP website  www.msp.ac.uk

You are strongly advised to seek advice from your tutor and the RPSGB if you have a health issue which is likely to affect your ability to carry out the day to day work of a pharmacist otherwise there is a possibility that after 4 years’ successful MPharm study and a successful Pre-Reg placement, you could be refused Registration and are, therefore, unable to work as a Pharmacist.

Work shadowing/experience is a good means of testing your ability in the working environment. It is also a good idea to discuss your personal circumstances with a Senior Pharmacist in a work setting to gain an opinion as to how likely it is that you will successfully gain employment as a Pharmacist. It can also be helpful to talk to a careers adviser for an objective, impartial appraisal of your work chances and alternatives, if necessary.

Other Special-Interest groups

Information and advice for the following groups is available as follows:


If there are any personal or general career issues you wish to discuss in confidence with a careers adviser, please contact us.

Further information


Clinical Trials Careers Chart

Last fully updated 2012