Describe your sector in a nutshell.
Community Pharmacists are often the first port of call for people wanting to seek health advice on minor ailments before trying to get an appointment to see a Doctor. We can be of help where we can suggest over the counter medication to treat the symptoms and guide the patient as to whether they do need to see a Doctor. We can also give short term solutions to treat conditions, to tide you over till you can see a Doctor.
We spend most of our day dispensing prescriptions, some for acute medication, but often doing patient’s monthly medications. You get to counsel patients on how best to take their medication.
We are also involved in preparing “blister pack medications” for patients who need help with taking their medication, as we prepare it in weekly boxes to aid compliance.
What are the different career opportunities/jobs available in your sector?
Becoming a pharmacist can open up several career options, some being:
- Going into community/retail pharmacy
- Hospital pharmacy, more recently this usually includes ward pharmacists who visit wards on a daily basis.
- Becoming a pharmacist prescriber if you pursue the career with further qualifications, where you can hold clinics in e.g. GP Surgeries, or assist in different hospital clinical settings.
- Industry pharmacy – you may want to go into pharmacy research and development of medicines.
- Academia – if you choose to teach.
What’s interesting/fun about your sector/industry? Why should a youngperson want to work there?
Are you an outgoing friendly person who wants to try and help people improve their health?
In community pharmacy, no two days are the same. You get to see your regular patients coming in for their monthly medications, and they become fond of you and this is rewarding as they may want to share good or bad news with you. They may sometimes need you to be a listening, compassionate ear; or other times to rejoice in their good news.
You will often learn new things, and when a patient comes in for a medication and you counsel them on how best to take it, you need to be sensitive as to what the medication might be for. With this, you can strike up a conversation that may lead to you reassuring the patient and giving them the best advice on how to take their medication properly and improve their compliance. You never know what a kind reassuring word can do!
What skills/qualities do you look for in someone wanting to join your sector?
Hardworking, caring and a good listener. Patients need to feel they are being listened to and cared for, and as you strike up a rapport, they will want to continue coming to your pharmacy. Having good interpersonal skills is also important to communicate with other staff, and good teamworking skills.
What is demand looking like in your sector? How do you think this will change in the future?
In Gibraltar, there are many community pharmacies. At the moment a large majority, I would think over 50%, of the pharmacist positions are taken by non-Gibraltarian pharmacists, so it would be great to have more Gibraltarian pharmacists working in Gibraltar.
Gibraltar is wanting to follow the UK a lot, and as you will have seen recently, there have been many changes made in the prescribing of items by the GHA. Apart from the cost cutting measures, they would like patients to attend community pharmacies in the first instance to seek advice, and if they cannot be helped there, then to seek a GP referral.
In the UK, Pharmacist prescribers already work in GP Clinics and hospital settings. Whether and when this will happen in Gibraltar is not yet known, but there could be exciting times ahead as you could have more of a role in prescribing and not just dispensing.
What is the approximate salary range can people earn?
This is quite hard to answer, but for a qualified pharmacist, this could potentially be between £25-30,000 per annum initially, but this will depend on your experience and training. The more qualifications you may have, the higher your salary can be.
Hospital pharmacy in the UK usually offers a step training program, where as you progress from each level, your salary increases.
What career pathways are available for a young person wanting to join your sector? (University and non-uni routes)
For pharmacy you need to go through the University route, usually needing 3 A Levels with at least 2 sciences. It is a four-year degree, which gives you a Masters in Pharmacy, and you then need to do a 1 year pre-registration training in the sector you have chosen, e.g. hospital or community pharmacy. Once you then pass the final pre-registration exams you become a qualified pharmacist.
You can then do further post graduate courses if you so wish, e.g. in Hospital you can choose to progress to become a Clinical Pharmacist. In all sectors you can choose to study to become a Pharmacist Prescriber in a chosen area of specialty.
Any advice you would give to a young person wanting to joinyour sector?
Try and get summer or holiday work experience in the pharmacy sector you think you would like most as it is the best way to experience it, and will help you to make your choice. Even if you have already chosen to study Pharmacy, during your university holidays/ summers make some time to experience it all!
Also speak to as many pharmacists as you can, as you will find very different opinions on Pharmacy as a career, and it might help you make your decision. Based on your character for example, you might suit one path more than another.