Your Foundation training

Managing difficult situations and overcoming challenges

The transition from being a pharmacy student to working full-time is challenging for most graduates. Add in the extra pressure of pharmacy Foundation training, which requires completing learning outcomes and passing a registration  assessment at the end of the training, and it’s not surprising that many Foundation trainee pharmacists encounter problems and require support outside of their training environment.

Many of the issues that affect Foundation trainee pharmacists can be prevented with a bit of forward planning. In this resource we offer some hints and tips to ensure a successful Foundation training year. We will signpost you to sources of support and some of the resources available on the most common issues affecting Foundation trainee pharmacists.

Although some of the resources signposted to are specifically for applicants to a specific sector and/or geographic region, the majority of the advice contained within the guidance would be useful to all Foundation trainee pharmacists

Foundation training: issues arising


One of the most challenging aspects of Foundation training is keeping up to date with all that is required of you. There are numerous deadlines throughout the training and the GPhC Foundation Training Manual summarises the key points.

Missing one of these deadlines could have serious implications. The GPhC Foundation Training Manual is your definitive guide, and you should read this carefully making a note of your personal ‘critical dates’ throughout your training. 

Key dates for Foundation training can also be found on the GPhC website

Top tip

Use a diary, personal organiser, phone calendar etc. to keep a note of all the critical dates. Set yourself reminders in advance of the deadline to allow time for any paperwork that needs to be done ahead of the deadline. 

Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes  must be completed and signed off by your tutor. This can seem daunting at the beginning of the Foundation training, but remember: they don’t all need to be completed at once.

You should be familiar with them from day one and gradually build on your knowledge and experience so that by your first progress review at 13 weeks some progress is documented. 

Don’t leave these until the night before your 13-week review to complete! Start early and keep up-to-date: this will ensure you keep on top of the work and avoid stressful situations the night before a progress review!

Make a note of any issues or queries as they arise and discuss these with your designated supervisors at the first opportunity.

Top tip

Many Foundation trainee pharmacists focus on the GPhC assessment, forgetting the learning outcomes. Remember, you cannot sit the GPhC assessment unless your designated supervisor signs-off the learning outcomes as ‘satisfactory’.

Dealing with difficult situations

Communication is the key!

Remember to keep all relevant people/organisations informed of issues as they arise. Even if the issue seems unsurmountable, your tutor, employer or the GPhC are likely to have encountered it before. Always be honest and explain the circumstances objectively. Discuss any issues or concerns at the first opportunity – the sooner they are discussed, the sooner they can be resolved.

The Pharmacist Support Foundation Trainee Fact Sheet provides some advice on some of the most frequently encountered issues by the Foundation trainee pharmacists such as illness or problems with progress reports.

Links to resources to help with specific issues are in the relevant sections below.

Maintaining professional relationships

Try to discuss any issues, as soon as they arise, with your designated supervisor. If your he/she is unavailable, or you find it difficult to talk to them about the particular issues, try talking to another member of staff – i.e. a senior pharmacy technician or locum pharmacist. You can also look for support outside of your own pharmacy for example, by contacting an area manager or Foundation training manager.

Read our Guide to Building Rapport with your Foundation designated supervisor.

The Pharmacist Support Foundation Trainee Fact Sheet includes advice on handling personal conflict and developing a rapport with your tutor and other staff.

Financial issues

Pharmacist Support produce a range of Fact Sheets to help with financial issues.

Pharmacist Support offers support on a wide range of issues. Support includes a telephone and online enquiry service, specialist advice in debt, benefits and employment, financial assistance and Listening Friends, a helpline for you to talk about stresses you are experiencing in your work or personal life and a range of other wellbeing services: or call 0808 168 2233

Looking after your wellbeing

Pharmacist Support produce a range of Fact Sheets to help with wellbeing issues:

The charity’s Wardley Wellbeing service, offers support on a range of wellbeing issues that can impact on pharmacy students, Foundation trainees and pharmacists.

Resolving issues: action points summary

  • Don’t let problems build up - speak to your designated supervisor and discuss your concerns
  • Explain the problem rationally and stick to the facts. Don’t embellish. Most importantly – be honest and open
  • Display an openness and willingness to make things right
  • Talk to another member of staff if you feel unable to discuss the issue with your designated supervisor. This could be another employee in the organisation such as an area manager or maybe a representative from the head office or HR team. If you are attending a training programme talk to your training provider as they will probably have a procedure for dealing with trainee pharmacist difficulties.
  • In any meetings held to discuss the issue, don’t spend the whole meeting moaning or dwelling on the problem. Instead, be clear about what you want from the discussion. Think about what solutions might help with the problem and be prepared to suggest these. Possible solutions, depending on the problem, could include:
    • Introducing protected study time during the working week
    • Adjusting working hours (e.g. earlier/later start or finish times) whilst maintaining the total weekly hours required (within the business requirements)
    • Identifying your knowledge gaps and creating with your designated supervisor, a weekly/monthly learning plan to cover the learning needs identified
    • Attending externally run study days or training courses
    • Finding a mentor for additional support with your training and development and agreeing regular sessions with them
    • Ensuring you have regular sessions booked in with your designated supervisor
    • Taking a period of holiday/study leave.
  • In exceptional circumstances, where you are unable to find a solution:
    • Speak to a Foundation training facilitator at GPhC (for training problems only; not for employment issues)
    • Look at your organisation’s grievance procedure and follow any process suggested. It may be helpful to seek specialist help with this, for example, from your trade union or Pharmacist Support’s employment adviser
    • Consider contacting a trade union representative
    • Contact Pharmacist Support, who can help with specialist employment advice.

Remember: dealing with workplace issues is a normal part of working life. I

Listening Friends is a helpline for people to talk about stresses they are experiencing in their work or personal life: or ring 0808 168 2233.

Failing the GPhC registration assessment

Inevitably, some Foundation trainee pharmacists will fail the GPhC registration assessment. The GPhC allows three attempts at the registration assessment, so there are other opportunities to re-take the assessment if this is your first or second attempt.

It may seem like the end of the world, particularly if it seems that everyone else around you is successful, but remember you are not alone and there is plenty of support available. This is just a stumble and, although it may mean some hard work is ahead, passing the assessment is achievable if you remain positive and dedicated.

In the first instance, you should read the guidance sent out by GPhC with your results. This will clarify whether you are eligible to sit the registration assessment again and if so, whether there are any additional supervised work requirements. The guidance will also provide information on the re-marking and appeals process.

If you have failed the registration assessment three times, there are still career options open to you. After all, you already have a science degree in your MPharm. Pharmacist Support also produce a Fact Sheet which you may find helpful: Careers advice and options for pharmacy graduates  

Further advice and support is available from Pharmacist SupportPharmacist Support also published a Fact Sheet -Failed the assessment? 

Listening Friends is a helpline for people to talk about stresses they are experiencing in their work or personal life: or ring 0808 168 2233.

Guidance and Support

There are many organisations which offer support for pharmacists at all stages of their careers, including pharmacy students and Foundation trainee pharmacists.

Some main organisations are:

British Pharmaceutical Students Association (BPSA).

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC): the regulator for pharmacy. The GPhC is responsible for running the Foundation training scheme.


Pharmacist Support offers support on a wide range of issues. Support includes a telephone and online enquiry service, specialist advice in debt, benefits and employment, financial assistance and Listening Friends, a helpline for people to talk about stresses they are experiencing in their work or personal life and a range of other wellbeing services: or ring 0808 168 2233

Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS): the professional body for pharmacy offers a wide range of support tool and resources:

  • Professional Support : can help with many types of enquiry including pharmacy practice, legal and ethical issues, clinical, careers support and continuing professional development
  • Events/courses/training days: for example Foundation revision courses and mock assessment: 
  • Library: include access to e-Books and e-Journals as well as databases such as Medline, Cinahl and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts
  • Mentoring: RPS offers an online mentor-mentee matching database: 
  • OnTrack: online pharmacy revision resource
  • Pharmaceutical Press: publishers of Martindale, BNF and BNF for children, Stockley, Medicines, Ethics and Practice, and other resources for Foundation trainee pharmacists such as Pharmaceutical Calculations Workbook.: