Are you ready to join the GPhC register as a pharmacist? We have lots of advice about registering for the first time and beginning to work as a pharmacist.
You will have spent at least five years training for and thinking about becoming a responsible pharmacist. One day you are a trainee pharmacist, the next you are enrolled on the GPhC register and are the responsible pharmacist when you sign in for work. This can be quite daunting. Don’t feel overwhelmed. There is plenty of guidance and support available.
What are the main challenges you will face as a newly qualified pharmacist?
There are many challenges you will face as you begin your career as a pharmacist. These include:
- lack of confidence
- decision making
- managing professional relationships
- being in charge
- time management.
As you will discover, managing your time and confidently delegating tasks that can be completed by your team is a skill that is acquired over time. There are a lot of things that you can do to help you on your journey.
Peer support is a key building block for developing confidence. Speaking to an experienced pharmacist can be a good starting point. Talking to somebody who has walked in your shoes can make you feel more knowledgeable, confident and happy. Knowing that you have somebody to talk to about the everyday stresses of pharmacy life is an invaluable tool.
Our Listening Friends service offers you the choice of speaking in confidence and anonymously to one of our trained volunteer pharmacists. The peer support provides you with an opportunity to talk about the stresses or pressures working in pharmacy may be causing you. Our volunteers do not provide advice, but they recognise the pressures of pharmacy practice and will offer you the time and space to talk through those issues to try to find clarity. They can also sign post you to other organisations who can provide further specialised help and support.
This service covers a variety of issues, but most commonly pharmacists contact us if they are dealing with difficult working relationships or workplace pressure. Listening Friends offers you the chance to speak in confidence to another pharmacist.
To request a Listening Friend, please call (freephone) our Enquiries Line on 0808 168 2233 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing professional relationships
A common problem in the workplace can be miscommunication … have you ever relayed instructions or information to a co-worker but somehow got your wires crossed? What’s more, your colleague now seems unhappy and you’re not sure why. Learning to identify different communication styles can improve teamwork and have a positive influence on your workplace culture.
Do you know how to say no?
Being able to say no, or even yes, respectfully … having the confidence to calmly express ideas, beliefs, concerns and opinions … valuing yourself and your time as equal to other people and their time … in short, being assertive, is fundamental to our wellbeing. Those who are assertive tend to have; higher self-esteem because they’re confident communicators, lower stress levels because they’re not taking on too many responsibilities, and healthier relationships which are based on mutual respect.
Not everyone is naturally assertive or feels comfortable being assertive. However, we can learn and develop this skill.
Wellbeing in the workplace
In simple terms, wellbeing can be defined as the state of being comfortable, healthy, feeling good and functioning well. You must invest in your wellbeing for sustained happiness, higher productivity, and good physical health.
Working in a pharmacy setting can be stressful, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. Now more than ever it is crucial that, in order to help patients and support your colleagues, you take some time to focus on your wellbeing.
Wellbeing Learning Platform
The Wellbeing Learning Platform is for individual wellbeing learning and training and is available to pharmacists, trainees and students. By signing up to the platform, you can access and follow a range of free online wellbeing workshops at a time that suits you. The workshops currently available are: Introduction to Wellbeing, Stress Management and Building Resilience, Time Management, Introduction to Assertiveness, Live the Life You Want to Lead, and The Science Behind Wellbeing.
Time management is the process of organising and planning how to divide your time between different activities. Get it right, and you’ll end up working smarter, not harder, to get more done in less time – even when time is tight, and pressures are high. Being good at time management involves conscious planning and thoughtful decision making. It also involves staying focused and sticking to your prioritised tasks rather than getting derailed by unimportant distractions.
Managing your time effectively can unlock many benefits. These include:
- Greater productivity and efficiency
- Less stress
- A better professional reputation
- More opportunities to achieve your life and career goals.
Overall, you start feeling more in control, with the confidence to choose how best to use your time.
And by feeling happier, more relaxed, and better able to think, you’re in a great place to help others reach their targets, too.
Thinking about locum work?
Many newly qualified pharmacists work as locums when they first register. There are a number of advantages to working as a locum. Locum pharmacists are an integral part of the pharmaceutical workforce, and for some the attractions of being a locum pharmacist are clear. You can choose your own hours; you can decide where you would like to work and often the pay can be very good.
We have identified a number of common themes that people starting out as locums contact us about. These include:
- How to tell HMRC you are self-employed
- Tax returns
- Professional indemnity insurance
- DBS checks
- Smart card registration
Don’t forget your revalidation
As part of your revalidation requirements, you will need to submit the following records once a year:
- four CPD entries, at least two of which should be planned learning activities
- one reflective account
- one peer discussion.
The GPhC does not give a suggested word limit but noticed in its research that entries that met the requirements tended to be around 400 words long. The GPhC has a range of example revalidation records for pharmacists to use as guidance for both planned and unplanned learning activities, reflective accounts and peer discussions. The examples cover a variety of pharmacy settings, including hospital, community and academia. You can find the examples here.
Can the same scenario be used for both the reflective account and the peer discussion?
You should use more than one scenario for both records. The GPhC will expect you to use different situations for each record. However, you might want to opt for some planned learning if a peer discussion or a reflective account leads you to identify a topic that may require further development.
Submitting revalidation records
You will need to submit your revalidation records at the same time as you renew your registration. You can record at any point during the year and submit records during the two months before the renewal deadline. Therefore, the deadline for submission is the same as the renewal deadline.
As the role of pharmacists has become increasingly patient centred, newly qualified pharmacists will often express concern about their clinical decision-making skills. Exposure to a mentor in the early stages of your career can help you to overcome this lack of confidence.
You could take a look at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) mentoring scheme. Mentors can offer support in six areas. These are:
- Collaborative working and communication
- Education, Development, Registration and Revalidation
- Expert practice
- Management and leadership
- Research and Evaluation.
Membership of the RPS is half price for newly qualified pharmacists. You can find out more about the mentoring service here.
Centre for Pharmacist Postgraduate Education (CPPE) newly qualified pharmacist programme
For all healthcare practitioners, the move into professional practice is complex and demanding. It includes a period of intense learning of new skills, knowledge and behaviours. Newly qualified pharmacists need to adapt to a new phase in their career, and will experience the responsibilities of professional judgment and accountability. The overall aim of the CPPE Newly qualified pharmacist programme is to support newly qualified pharmacists working in community practice, primary care or health in justice sectors to develop, and demonstrate, confidence and competence in core areas of pharmacy practice. The programme is designed to support pharmacists to become better equipped to adapt and deliver safe and effective patient care, and overcome the challenges of this new stage of their career
The twelve-month programme, fully funded by NHS England, as part of their Newly Qualified Pharmacist pathway, takes a blended learning approach, and offers a mix of online learning, workshops, assessment and work-based support through a designated CPPE education supervisor. The programme will be your first step in your post-registration professional development journey. It also provides comprehensive learning to help you to demonstrate readiness to enrol on an Independent Prescribing (IP) training course.
Find out more about the programme here.
RPS Post-registration foundation pharmacist training
RPS have developed a credentialing process for post-registration foundation pharmacists working in patient-focussed roles across different sectors in the UK who wish to demonstrate they have the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of post-registration foundation pharmacists.
The curriculum is underpinned by the RPS Foundation Pharmacist Framework (2019) which was produced from an evidence based role analysis of the current and future roles (until 2023) of post-registration foundation pharmacists practising in all sectors across the UK.
The curriculum includes independent prescribing to reflect the core changes in pharmacist practice which are included in the new GPhC initial education and training (IET) standards, and develops leadership, management, education and research capabilities. It bridges the period until the new IET standards have been fully implemented, offering a structured pathway for newly qualified pharmacists.
You can find out more about the training here.
Clinical Diplomas aim to further develop your approach to patient care and enhance your employability skills, creating confident pharmacists, equipped with the knowledge and skills required to deliver high quality patient care. Courses vary depending on the university you choose, here are some examples of your options:
- Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Pharmacy
- Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Pharmacy with Independent Prescribing
- Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Pharmacy
- Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Pharmacy with Independent Prescribing
- Masters in Clinical Pharmacy
- Masters in Clinical Pharmacy with Independent Prescribing
Eligibility criteria will also vary depending on your choice of course and university, however most will require you to have an MPharm, you will need to be registered as a pharmacist, and you will need to work a minimum of one day per week in a patient facing role.
NHS England Training
NHS England has introduced a Newly Qualified Pharmacist pathway. The Newly Qualified Pharmacist pathway aims to support newly qualified pharmacists to experience a smooth transition into being an independent practitioner. There are four core elements of the pathway:
- Access to the RPS e-Portfolio: Developed to support learners assess their learning needs, develop an action plan, and reflect upon their experiences.
- Curriculum: The RPS Post-registration foundation pharmacist curriculum is designed to support pharmacists grow from meeting the initial standards of education and training through to being confident practitioners who can provide increasingly complex care.
- Learning resources: Curated resources have been mapped against the new curriculum domains. This virtual library will support the professional development of newly qualified pharmacists, based on their individual learning needs, and can complement resources available locally. The learning resource library is available online.
- Access to supervision: RPS will support access to supervision for all pharmacists on this pathway.
The RPS Post-registration foundation pharmacist curriculum learning outcomes have been designed to develop prescribing competence. This means that the NHS England Newly Qualified Pharmacist pathway, using these learning outcomes, helps newly qualified pharmacists to develop the skills and competence they need to prepare for a prescribing course.
Further information about eligibility, timelines, funding and registration can be found on the Newly Qualified Pharmacist pathway webpage.
Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) Post-registration foundation pharmacist training
From September 2022, HEIW will be offering a Post-registration foundation pharmacist programme in collaboration with Cardiff University and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), to support early career pharmacists with meeting the new GPhC initial education and training standards for pharmacists (IETPs), including gaining independent prescribing status, until full implementation by July 2026.
NHS Education Scotland (NES) Training programme for newly qualified pharmacists
NES is offering a Post-Registration Foundation programme specifically for newly qualified pharmacists. This programme is based on the UK RPS curriculum and provides supported structured learning with support from an online educational programme and Senior Educators from the Post – Registration Foundation team. A key aspect of this programme is gathering evidence in the workplace and developing an online portfolio. Attendance at a variety of online educational sessions, a 4 day clinical skills course, and an IP course at one of the universities in Scotland is key and support from your organisation is key before registration.
NHS England clinical examination skills training
NHS England has announced that it is opening up 10,000 funded places for clinical examination skills training. The first step will be to pass the online module in history taking. Once you have passed this you will be able to take modules in dermatology, cardiology, ear nose and throat, and paediatric care. The programme begins in December 2022 and ends in March 2024. Pharmacists will only be able to take one funded module per financial year.
This scheme is also open to part-time pharmacists and locum pharmacists. Pharmacists should register their interest here: https://healtheducationyh.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/request-for-further-information-clinical-examination-ski
The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA)
Do not forget to join your trade union. Pharmacists increasingly find themselves working under pressure in highly regulated pharmacy environments. You could easily find yourself involved with a dilemma or dispute with your employer. Often, the relationship between you and your employer can take a turn for the worse if you express concerns about professional issues and patient safety. Routinely, this can turn into a situation where you become the subject of disciplinary action. Being involved in disciplinary, grievance or performance management situations can be distressing and can affect your performance, wellbeing and in numerous cases, your mental health. Along with support for employment and professional issues there is much to be gained from joining the PDA. Benefits include:
- Free PDA NQ membership for 3 months followed by First Year Qualified Membership
- Equality Networks don’t forget the importance of networking, this will help you to feel less isolated as you embark on your career
- Education opportunities – the PDA’s Education Hub is an online platform that provides FREE training and support to PDA members.
- Indemnity insurance – as a member you would be entitled to up to £10,000,000 worth of protection in the event that you harmed someone through an error.
This webpage was last reviewed and updated on 26 July 2023.