The foundation year is the next stage on the path to becoming a pharmacist and most students are naturally quite anxious about finding the right placement. The Pharmaceutical Journal (PJ)has a whole series of articles that have been written with the foundation trainee in mind. These include how to make a successful foundation application, interview tips and getting started in the pharmaceutical industry. Some of these articles will only be accessible to members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. For further information, see the PJ website.
Please note, many employers now recruit trainees a year in advance of the placement start date.
How to find a foundation placement
There are a number of places where you can look for vacancies. Here are some suggestions.
Community pre-registration placements
Chemist and Druggist
C+D has a jobs section where you can see the latest pre-registration vacancies. For further information, see the website.
National Pharmacy Association (NPA)
The NPA has an interactive map on its website that enables you to search by locality. For further information, see their website.
Pharmaceutical Journal (PJ)
The PJ has an online careers section that includes pre-registration vacancies. For further information, see the website.
The Oriel recruitment portal has replaced the Pharmalife website and contains the details of all hospital foundation vacancies. Oriel also now holds some, but not all, of the foundation community placement vacancies. For further information, visit the NHS Oriel website.
Split industrial foundation placements
Students who are interested in a split industrial foundation placement will need to be aware that some companies only allow those who have completed a summer placement to apply for a foundation position. Many of the industrial foundation placements are offered a full year in advance of commencement. See below for contact details for industrial opportunities.
AstraZeneca offer summer placements at their Macclesfield and Alderley Park Sites. During this placement, students will be offered the chance to apply for one of their pre-registration placements. For further details, visit their website.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) offer summer internships and industrial placements. For further information, visit their website.
MSD offer summer placements and graduate opportunities. For further information, visit their website.
Pfizer offer an industrial trainee placement scheme. For further details, visit their website.
Students should bear in mind that often the relevant information will only be available on company websites whilst applications for positions are open. University careers support services should have further information available for students.
Split foundation academia placement
These placements are very limited at the moment. Split academia placements are made up of six months in academia and six months in community pharmacy. There is an article in the PJ about the merits of a split academia placement. For further information, visit their website.
Split clinical commissioning group foundation placement
It is now possible to undertake a split clinical commissioning group (CCG) placement. Trainees will split their time between a CCG and a hospital. These placements are currently geographically limited, however students who wish to pursue a split CCG placement could approach their local CCG to see if a placement could be arranged.
To search for your local CCG, click here.
Foundation placement with GP experience
This is a project in collaboration with the Health Education training boards in Kent, Surrey and Sussex (HEKSS). Foundation trainees will spend one day a week for 8 weeks in a GP surgery focusing on medicines optimisation and gaining a better understanding of how GP surgeries operate. The initial pilot was launched in April 2015, and involved six GP surgeries. Feedback from this scheme has been very positive and this service was expanded in August 2015. For further information, see the NHS Health Education England website.
Foundation recruitment timetable
The NHS recruitment timetable can often differ from that of community pharmacy employers who are not using the Oriel recruitment portal. This can lead to trainees receiving an offer from one employer whilst still waiting for an offer from their preferred employer. If you find yourself in this situation and are concerned about contractual obligations once you have committed to a job offer, you can contact us for a referral to a specialist employment adviser for further guidance and advice. For full contact details for Pharmacist Support, see below.
Please note, contractual disputes with an employer are not a fitness to practice issue and the GPhC will not become involved in employer/employee contractual disputes.
Setting up foundation training: the contract of employment
We suggest that trainees get a written copy of the contract of employment before their training begins and read it through carefully. All employees are entitled to a written statement of their main terms and conditions of employment within two months of starting work. The contract sets out rights and responsibilities of the employer and employee. The rights set out in the contract are in addition to rights under law such as the right to paid holiday and the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion, belief or gender reassignment.
Note that the contract of employment can give additional rights, for example, more paid holiday than the legal minimum, but it cannot take away or reduce legal rights. On leaving employment, employees are entitled to be paid any outstanding holiday pay and notice pay if applicable.
For further information about employment contracts, see our Foundation trainee: employment contracts fact sheet.
If you have queries about your contract of employment, Pharmacist Support may be able to help by referring you to a specialist Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) adviser. If you would like to be referred, contact us on our general enquiry line: 0808 168 2233, or email us on: email@example.com.
The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) may also be able to help. The PDA also offers free membership to pre-registration trainees; this includes legal defence insurance, professional indemnity insurance and trade union membership. Contact the PDA at: The Old Fire Station 69 Albion Street Birmingham B1 3EA Tel: 0121 694 7000 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.the-pda.org
Choosing a training provider
It is best to be clear about hours and structure of work and also about what training will be provided before accepting an offer. Whilst trainees who are unhappy with a placement can switch, it is best to try to establish a training provider who is satisfactory well in advance of a placement beginning.
Check-list for choosing a training provider
The foundation training year is an important one. Here are some suggestions for things to check in advance to ensure that your placement runs smoothly:-
- is the designated supervisor experienced and how have previous foundation trainees fared
- is the designated supervisor happy to provide a training plan
- is the training plan clearly mapped to the GPhC syllabus and performance standards
- are training days offered, for example, attending courses or cross sector training
- are any other training opportunities offered, for example, on-line learning
- how often does the designated supervisor offer performance feedback to the trainee
- does the designated supervisor provide exam practice?
The learning contract
The learning contract represents the commitment of both the designated supervisor and the trainee to the training programme. As part of the application to join the foundation scheme a learning contract must be signed by the designated supervisor and the trainee. Trainees should read the commitments carefully and consider not only how a prospective placement meets the ideals, but also consider what their own role in the training plan will be.
Trainees should bear in mind that the training year is a joint commitment from both themselves and the designated supervisor. To become a pharmacist, trainees must be able to demonstrate that they have the knowledge, by passing the registration assessment, and the experience needed, developed during the foundation year, to practise as a pharmacist. The foundation year is a challenge and trainees will need to be fully committed in order to succeed.
A copy of the Applying to join the Foundation pharmacist scheme form can be downloaded from the GPhC website. This form also contains guidance for trainees.
The learning contract commitments
When attending interviews trainees could discuss how the prospective employers will encompass the learning contact commitment in the foundation placement. The foundation year is ‘on the job’ training; however, one of the learning contract commitments is that trainees have mutually agreed time dedicated to study and reflection on learning.
A key part of understanding how all the commitments will be met throughout the training year is via a training plan.
The learning contract can be found at the end of the GPhC Applying to join the Foundation Pharmacist scheme form.
The training plan
Training plans should:-
- provide a structure to meet all the GPhC’s required learning outcomes
- include targets and objectives to define practical competence at any particular stage
- include access to off-site learning opportunities such as study days, training events and multidisciplinary working
- set out a schedule for formal progress reviews
- be reviewed jointly, adapted and agreed at the start of the training period and after each formal review to target individual learning needs.
Note that the learning contract specifies that an initial training template should be shared with the trainee. Before accepting a placement trainees should ensure that they are happy with the training plan provided. Trainees should be pro-active and should not be afraid to ask questions. If a designated supervisor is not willing to engage and assist with the production of a training plan, then the placement may not be suitable.
Note that the foundation year is not just about passing the assessment. Throughout the year trainees must be able to demonstrate that they are reaching the required performance standards as set out by the GPhC. If trainees are not reaching the required standards, they should sit down with their designated supervisore and devise a plan and a timetable in order for improvements to be made.
For further information about the syllabus and performance standards, see the GPhC on-line foundation pharmacist manual.
Other useful information
We have compiled a series of short fact sheets on the subject of career guidance. These fact sheets will help applicants to complete application forms, create CVs, use LinkedIn and provide guidance for job interviews.
See our Career guidance: completing a job application form fact sheet
See our Career guidance: creating a CV fact sheet
See our Career guidance: using LinkedIn fact sheet
See our Career guidance: job interviews fact sheet
For further information on the foundation year, see our Foundation pharmacist fact sheet.
For further information on the foundation assessment, see our Foundation assessment fact sheet.
This fact sheet was last reviewed on 7 June 2021.