Are you planning a career change? This page is for pharmacists who are looking for an alternative career, either within the pharmaceutical environment or in non-pharmacy-related work.
There are lots of reasons why people may take a break from practising as a pharmacist. For example, taking time to recover from a long term illness, bringing up a family or taking a gap year.
If you are contemplating a return to practice following a break of more than twelve months you will have to complete the GPhC return to registration application form and provide a portfolio of evidence of current competence. You will need to consider the knowledge and skills that you already have, identify any gaps and develop a plan on how you might best fill these gaps.
Return to practice courses, work shadowing, mentoring and on-line forums are amongst the options available to help you to enhance your knowledge and skills.
Courses and training
The Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) run a range of courses.
Return to Practice
The CPPE offers a four day Return to practice course for pharmacists who are looking to return to practice. There is a charge for this course, however it does receive a subsidy from the Department of Health. For further information, see the CPPE website.
Returning to the register
The CPPE Returning to the register-building a portfolio course addresses the GPhC requirement for all returning pharmacists to submit a portfolio of evidence that demonstrates their current professional competence. This course is free to returners in England and Wales. For further information, see the CPPE website.
The CPPE now offers a coaching service. If you have a specific work-related goal, for example returning to practice, the CPPE can help you to achieve this within a supportive framework. For further information, see the CPPE website.
Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education
Information on booking a return to practice course: https://www.cppe.ac.uk/programmes/rtp-pfp-booking
NHS Education for Scotland (NES) courses
NES offers courses to support returning to practice including an annual three-day return to practice course.
Health Education and Improvement Wales (Pharmacy)
The HEIW has courses which pharmacists may find useful. It also organises work shadowing and one-to-one meetings with local tutors to plan individual return to practice programmes tailored to your employment preference.
Returning pharmacists will need to keep abreast of new services in order to remain an attractive proposition to prospective employers. Pharmacists who are unable to provide services such as New Medicine Services (NMS) will be less likely to get work. See the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) website for further information on services such as NMS.
NHS repeat dispensing service
The PSNC state that at least two thirds of all prescriptions generated in primary care are for patients needing repeat supplies of regular medicines. Under this service, pharmacies dispense repeat prescriptions and store the documentation if the patient requires them to do so. For further information, see the PSNC website.
CPPE repeat dispensing training
The CPPE offers a repeat dispensing learning programme and assessment. For further information, see the CPPE website.
The Pharmacy Times
The Pharmacy Times on-line site has a large section on medical conditions. Here you will find advice in a variety of formats, ranging from articles to pod-casts and videos, to help you to keep up-to-date with the latest information on a variety of disease states. For further information, see the Pharmacy Times website.
All pharmacists need to have an NHS smartcard in order to access the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS). Your local registration authority or area team will be able to provide you with a smartcard. To find your local area team, see the NHS choices website.
Supported training / work shadowing
Day Lewis supported training placement programme
For some pharmacists who have completed the CPPE Return to Practice programme, there is also the opportunity for a placement on the Supported training placement programme. This is a joint partnership between the CPPE and Day Lewis, offering a number of one month placements for pharmacists who are seeking to return to practice.
During this placement an experienced Day Lewis pharmacist will assess and mentor you, and on successful completion of the placement you will be awarded with a certificate. For further information, visit the CPPE website.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) work shadowing information
The RPS website provides information on work shadowing, including how to find a work shadow placement, how to prepare for it and to get the most out of it. For further information, see the RPS website. Please note, you will need to be a member of the RPS if you wish to use their services.
RPS mentoring service
The RPS offers its members a mentoring service. This can range from a one-off session focusing on a particular issue to a long term relationship that will enable you to build confidence and enhance your skills. Mentors can also, at your request, liaise with the GPhC to ensure that you fulfil any conditions attached to your return to the register.
The RPS online mentoring database helps to match mentor and mentee. However you can also utilise local practice forums and online groups to search for potential mentors.
For further information on the mentoring service, see the RPS website.
National Association of Women Pharmacists (NAWP)
NAWP is keen to help men and women who wish to return to practice. This includes the provision of low-level continuing support, introduction to work opportunities with sympathetic employers and a mentoring scheme. For further information, see the NAWP website.
Other contacts and resources
The RPS website contains general information on return to practice, including tips for your portfolio and personal statement, a return to practice checklist, FAQs and case studies. For further information on return to practice, see the RPS website.
The RPS offers discounted rates to those who are on maternity leave or are not currently working owing to issues such as health problems. For further details of discounted membership rates, see the RPS website.
PJ Online includes articles, details of courses and links to other useful resources. Some information is available to all visitors to the website, whilst information such as archived articles is for members of the RPS who have registered with PJ Online and paid subscribers only.
For further information, see the PJ website.
Looking for work
There are many job sites to help you to find employment. We have compiled a list of specialist pharmacist sites, locum sites and more general job sites. To view these, see our Looking for work: job vacancy sites page.
Working as a locum
Pharmacists who are struggling to find work might want to consider working as a locum. For further information, including paying tax, personal indemnity insurance and employment rights, see our Locum page.
While people are unable to work, we can also provide specialist advice on benefits entitlement. For people who are struggling to manage their finances, we can provide specialist debt advice.
Financial assistance towards essential expenditure in times of hardship may be provided to those affected by loss of work, for example, pharmacists seeking to return to work after a period of illness. . Examples of help include course and travel costs, registration fees and help with household costs.
If you are currently experiencing hardship, do not hesitate to contact us. We can help you assess whether an application for financial assistance is the best route and discuss what other support might be available for you
To contact Pharmacist Support,
Our confidential Listening Friends telephone helpline, staffed by volunteer pharmacists, can provide a listening ear to pharmacists who have not worked for a while and may be anxious about returning to practice.
This page was last reviewed on 22 February 2023.