It's a common misconception that all registered pharmacists work in community pharmacies; in fact, there is a wide range of career paths available for you to follow. Our teaching will set you up for any career route you choose to take after you graduate.
Below are the most common areas of practice that pharmacists tend to follow, but there are many other specialist choices available in addition to these.
Community pharmacists work in high-street pharmacies, pharmacies in medical group practices, and in large supermarket or department stores. As these pharmacists are so accessible to the public, they are often a patient's first point of contact in the healthcare system and so are critical to ensuring the patient receives optimal treatment, advice and support.
Many pharmacists are employed in NHS and private hospitals and clinics where their role is central in ensuring that patients receive safe and effective therapy. As many of the patients are prescribed complex and potentially harmful medication regimens, hospital pharmacists need to be ready to advise other health professionals on the most appropriate use and dosage of medicines.
Hospital pharmacists tend to specialise in a field, such as oncology, infectious diseases, or psychiatry, and have a number of opportunities to become involved in research and education. There are also high numbers of pharmacists who progress to senior management positions within the NHS.
Another career option is within the pharmaceutical industry where chemical agents, medicines and drugs, and other healthcare products are produced. Pharmacists may be involved in manufacturing, marketing, research and product development, quality control, sales, or administrative roles.
The specialist scientific and technical demands of some positions in research and manufacturing sometimes require further postgraduate study and qualifications.
"The teaching at the Reading School of Pharmacy provided strong grounding for research and development. I gained hands-on research experience through the University's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP), and my research project findings were published in an academic journal and presented to an audience of pharmacists and academics, including the president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society."
Government and regulatory bodies
A complex regulatory system operates to control the sale and provision of medicinal products in Britain and the EU. Pharmacists are employed by governments and commercial organisations to advise on and oversee the implementation of the regulations that apply to new and existing drugs.
All pharmacists need to be familiar with, and to remain informed about, regulations that exist to protect the public.
Education and research
Academic pharmacists are involved with teaching, research, public service, and patient care, and usually have a postgraduate degree or specialisation.
These practitioners bring their teaching skills and experience gained in a variety of practical environments to serve as role models for pharmacy students.
"I am a pre-registration pharmacist undertaking a split training year at Bristol-Myers Squibb and St Helen's and Knowsley NHS Trust. Since starting the MPharm degree at the University of Reading, my aim has always been to enter the pharmaceutical industry which then spreads to global health."
Pharmacists may also apply their skills in many other areas, including clinical specialisations such as infectious diseases, paediatric or geriatric pharmacy, psychiatry, intensive care, and cardiology.
Other career paths pharmacists have followed are advertising, technical writing, becoming expert in pharmaceutical and patent law, journalism and the cultivation and harvesting of medicinal plants.