The choices you make at school can shape the rest of your life. It's an important crossroads. Deciding on what to do next can be hard because there's so much out there, so the first thing to do is to take a look at yourself and your strong points. Sounds a bit scary, but it isn't - so don't panic!
Is pharmacy for me?
What subjects are you planning to take for your A-levels? Is science your thing or do you prefer the arts? Let's be honest, if you have chosen to concentrate on the arts for your A-levels, then it wouldn't make much sense to decide on pharmacy as a career. No point trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
To have a good chance of getting the correct A levels to study pharmacy you will require at least 5 A-C, G.C.S.E’s which should include English, Maths and Double Science.
If chemistry (and maybe biology) are two of your strong A-level subjects and you are on track to do well in them, along with another A-level, then you can think about applying for a place on a pharmacy degree course at one of the many schools of pharmacy at universities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
If you think you fit the pharmacy profile, then it's worth taking time to find out more.
How do I get there?
Here is a checklist of things to do to help you become a pharmacist:
- If you're thinking about which A-levels to take, remember most courses are geared to those with A-levels in chemistry and two of biology/ mathematics/ physics. Students may be also considered with chemistry or biology (and one other subject).
- In Scotland, you will need to obtain Highers in at least Chemistry, Maths and Biology/ Human Biology and English with both schools of pharmacy in Scotland having different minimum grades and additional Higher requirements as well as these core subjects.
- Speak to your careers advisor or careers teacher at your school. He or she will be able to discuss your interest in pharmacy and will be able to tell you more about the application process, depending on your age and the level you've reached at school.
- It's a good idea to contact your local pharmacy, Primary Care organisation or hospital pharmacy to see if they will let you go along to experience pharmacy in action.
- If you are interested in a work placement within the industrial pharmacy sector, you could try writing to the pharmaceutical companies (get a list from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry).
- Take a look at the website of the British Pharmaceutical Students' Association.
- Log on to the NHS Careers website which contains many useful fact-sheets on what it's like to be a pharmacist. You can also call them on 0345 60 60 655 for pharmacy careers advice.
“I decided on pharmacy because I had a keen interest in chemistry and biology. Also, my grandfather was a pharmacist and he showed me how interesting it can be working in the community where there is plenty of contact with the general public.
In future pharmacists will have more responsibility and more duties to perform, meaning we will have a bigger role to play, like doctors.”