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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.

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

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 and specialist online 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.

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 a registration exam, set by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). In order to practice pharmacists must be registered with the GPhC.

For a pharmacy masters course, the entry requirements are typically three A levels at grades A or B in chemistry and biology, maths or physics, along with five GCSEs at grade 4 (C) or above – including English language, maths and a science.

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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