Returning to Practice - a guide

This guide to returning to practice is for anyone who’s been out of the workplace for a while and is looking to return to practice or move into a different sector.

Returning to practice doesn't have to be difficult

  • Are you thinking of returning to a familiar role or moving into a different area of practice?
  • Have you been out of practice and want to return to the workplace?
  • Are you thinking of moving into a different sector of practice?

There are plenty of things to think about when returning to practice after a career break. 

We have some of the answers...

How we can help How we can help

We can help by:

  • Advising you on how you can successfully meet your professional obligations
  • Supporting you as you develop your role on your chosen career path
  • Helping you focus on building your confidence as you return to practice

Our support service aims to help you step back into the workplace with confidence as a competent, safe, effective practitioner for the benefit of patients and the public.


What do I need to think about when returning to practice? What do I need to think about when returning to practice?

What are your plans?

  • Think about the area you plan to return to
  • Identify the gaps in your knowledge and skills and devise a personal development plan to address the gaps - a useful starting point is the job description for a role you are interested in 
  • As an RPS member you can apply for Faculty membership and access our Faculty portfolio and its related support tools. This can help you focus on your competency requirements for your intended role and help plan your learning activities.

GPhC requirements for returning to the pharmacist register GPhC requirements for returning to the pharmacist register

If you have...

  1. not been on the previous RPSGB practising register and have never been on the GPhC register, or
  2. have been off the GPhC register for more than 12 months

but now wish to return to the register, you need to submit a portfolio of evidence of your current competence relating to the role you intend to return to, along with your return to registration application form.

The areas which need to be covered in your portfolio are laid out in the GPhC’s 'Guidance on completing a return to registration application and providing a portfolio of evidence'.

In your portfolio, you need to include:

      •   your self assessment against GPhC Standards of Conduct, Ethics and Performance

      •   your personal statement which includes your qualifications, education and training, CPD and relevant experience and how these will support you in your intended role

      •   evidence materials (e.g. CPD entries, testimonials, certificates etc)

      •   a Personal Development Plan (PDP) – demonstrating what learning youwould need to undertake (after registration) to meet the gaps you  have identified 

      •   your CV since your last registration date.

If you are returning to practice within 12 months of your last registration date, you need to make an application to the GPhC for restoration to the register but do not need to submit a portfolio.

Since the RPSGB demerger on 27 September 2010, the non-practising pharmcist register ceased to exist and only those registered as (practising) pharmacists with the GPhC are are entitled to practice in Great Britain.

Our Return to Practise Checklist provides further information.

Competencies and frameworks Competencies and frameworks

Structure and guidance are imperative when you are embarking on a new chapter of your professional career whether you are returning to the same place of work after a career break or transferring your skills to a different area of practice.

If you are planning to undertake work in a new area, it might be worthwhile looking into what existing competency frameworks your new employer provides.

CoDEG currently offers some guidance for self-assessment.

How can leadership development help me in my return to practice? How can leadership development help me in my return to practice?

Leadership is for every pharmacist, regardless of your sector of practice, level of professional experience or what stage you are at in your pharmacy career. Leadership is not restricted to those who hold leadership roles.

As a pharmacist returning to practice or moving sector, you have a professional responsibility to take charge of your own performance and professional development and extend your leadership behaviours, contributing to the running of the service or business you are returning to and shaping its future direction.

Thinking about returning to practice offers you an opportunity to take stock of where there are gaps in your leadership behaviours, how you can personally address these and where working with others and building relationships with other allied professionals could help you achieve this. The RPS can facilitate this through our provision of online practice guidance material, our professional support advice service, CPD resourcesaccess to online specialist groups (networks) and our mentoring service .

There is no specific time frame or pathway to developing exemplary leadership behaviours. Indeed, it is an ongoing process that may become more complex with your career progression. However, adopting a leadership approach in your future practice through assessment of services you provide and evaluation of ways of working, sets a context for decision making, possible change and ultimate improvement.

You may wish to access the self-assessment tool provided by the NHS Leadership Academy that can be used in conjunction with the RPS Leadership Development Framework. A Handbook with further information supplementing the Leadership Development Framework is available for Royal Pharmaceutical Society members.

Where can I find support and information on courses? Where can I find support and information on courses?

The Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate  Education (CPPE) offer a four day RtP course if you intend to practice in pharmacy in England; NHS Education for Scotland also offer a  three day RtP course in January each year (this is advertised in August).  If you are thinking of working in Wales, you may wish to check for any relevant courses offered by WCPPE. The CPPE RtP course is community pharmacy focused however access is not restricted to those who have worked or intend to work in this sector. The CPPE are happy to answer enquiries or discuss with prospective attendees any concerns they may have on their suitability to the course.

• Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education
 Welsh Centre of Pharmacy Professional Education  
• NHS Education for Scotland

The National Association of Women Pharmacists is a long established, successful organisation which provides, as part of its many professional services, career advice and support for those who are returning to practice. This service is not limited to women pharmacists.

When deciding on what training you need to undertake it may be helpful to check our events programme and our accredited training courses, materials and events.

What costs are involved in returning to practice? What costs are involved in returning to practice?

The immediate cost likely to be incurred by those who are intending on returning to practice is the fee to register with the GPhC (details of registration fees can be found on the GPhC website).

The RPS will not charge any additional fees for advice and support on Return to Practice – our webinars, online information, support service and all RPS guidance resources, including the Pharmaceutical Journal are free to our members.

Some courses do attract a fee and it is therefore particularly important to consider the relevance of any course to your practice.

If you have financial concerns, Pharmacist Support (previously known as the Benevolent Fund) may be able to help you. Their case studies illustrate how they have helped in the past.

Coronavirus Covid-19 - returning to work during pandemic Coronavirus - returning to work during pandemic