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Retail pharmacists provide general healthcare advice and supply prescription and non-prescription medication to the public. A retail pharmacist works in a retail setting rather than in a hospital or GP surgery.

Larger employers of pharmacists commonly offer bonuses, enhanced pension schemes, private health insurance and employee discounts.

What does a retail pharmacist do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Retail pharmacists are responsible for dispensing and controlling both prescription and non-prescription medicine. They also advise customers on general healthcare. Retail pharmacists must work to legal and ethical guidelines.

Employment as a retail pharmacist involves:

  • providing advice about health issues, symptoms and medications in response to customer enquiries
  • recruiting, training and managing staff
  • processing prescriptions and dispensing medication
  • ordering and selling medicines and other stock
  • meeting medical representatives
  • managing budgets
  • keeping statistical and financial records
  • preparing publicity materials and displays
  • marketing services

Some evening and weekend work may be required.

Typical employers of retail pharmacists

  • Independent pharmacies
  • Supermarket pharmacies
  • Pharmacy chains

Vacancies are advertised by careers services, in national newspapers and specialist publications including Chemist and Druggist and The Pharmaceutical Journal and their online equivalents. Pre-registration training placements are advertised in the annually published Pre-Reg Manual and on their websites.

Qualifications and training required

It takes five years to qualify as a pharmacist. This includes a four-year degree course (an MPharm), one year’s work experience in a clinical setting and an exam, set by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). In order to practice pharmacists must be registered with the GPhC.

Relevant experience gained in any retail area involving contact with customers or the general public can be beneficial.

Key skills for retail pharmacists

  • Maturity
  • Attentiveness
  • Responsibility
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Confidence
  • Commercial awareness

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