You’ve completed four years of intense study and obtained a Masters’ degree, followed by a year of on the job training and a registration exam. Finally, at long last you’re a registered pharmacist - CONGRATULATIONS. But do you fully appreciate the career options available to you as a registered pharmacist? In this short blog post, I’ll write about three areas where pharmacists enjoy a sort of professional monopoly/oligopoly. My aim is to get you thinking about alternative career paths.
Do you have friends with degrees in science such as chemistry, pharmacology, biology, biomedical science, e.tc? For many of these degree holders, they don’t simply waltz into a set job that’s only reserved for members of their profession. Pharmacists on the other hand have a unique advantage: we finish our degrees and even though it’s not quite a waltz to land a pre-reg place, at least we are only competing with other MPharm degree holders and not other degree holders. We enjoy a sort of monopoly, which is fantastic for us but sometimes it makes us think about our future careers in a constrained way. Having worked in both community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy, I believe they are great career options, however there are other areas where pharmacists enjoy a kind of professional monopoly/oligopoly
Primary Care Pharmacists
By this I mean roles such as prescribing adviser, medicines management pharmacist, clinical commissioning pharmacist, practice pharmacist, primary care network clinical pharmacists e.tc. https://www.rpharms.com/resources/careers-information/career-options-in-pharmacy/primary-care-pharmacy We as pharmacists enjoy a monopoly in this area in the sense that being a registered pharmacist is a pre-requisite for these roles. It is not within the remit of this blog post to describe each of these roles as that’s a lot of ground to cover. Suffice to say that there’s a lot of information available just by googling.
Pharmaceutical companies churn out lots of material, which all need to be compliant with the ABPI Code. Certain materials and activities require approval through certification and guess what two professions have a ‘monopoly’ on this. Yep, you guessed it – only a registered medical Dr or a pharmacist registered in the UK. This wasn’t always the case by the way: not so long ago it was only medical Drs who could certify. Please start by reading this https://www.pmcpa.org.uk/guidance-and-qas/guidance/certification-and-examination-including-nominated-signatories/ if interested. Contract rates for final signatories can be as much as £500 a day and then when combined with other duties such as Medical Adviser – contract rates can be as much as £1000 a day with the right level of experience.
Qualified Person (QP)
Pharmacists are one of very few scientists that are eligible to take on this role. Does the word ‘oligopoly’ ring a bell anyone? It gets better though: pharmacists have one year less of training compared to the other scientists that are allowed to be QPs. https://www.rpharms.com/development/education-training/training/qualified-persons-a-guide Contract rates for QPs can be anywhere from £600 to £1300 a day with the right level of experience.
I’ve highlighted three areas where pharmacists enjoy a sort of professional monopoly/oligopoly and the aim is to get you thinking about other interesting career options. I recognise that it can seem quite daunting to try to transition to these roles, but I’ll invite you to reflect with me. Think back to when you first decided to become a pharmacist. If you were anything like me, it seemed like such a long journey ahead. First you had to get good A-level grades, then get through university, then the pre-reg year, then the pre-reg exam. Yet you believed you were going to make it and took the first step. You know what they say: A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step. If interested, I want to encourage you to start that journey today.
Wishing you a fulfilling career
About the author: Bemi is a pharmacist and former vice president of the UKBPA. He currently works as a senior health economist for pharmaceutical industry and has previously held roles in Community and Hospital pharmacy as well as in CCG