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Everything you need to know about the Trainee Pharmacist Foundation Programme

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If you don’t already know the Trainee Pharmacist Foundation Programme is a training year that is completed after your MPharm studies. It is a year undertaken in pharmacy practice and is an essential element of training to become a fully registered pharmacist. Kathryn Davison, Team Leader for Pharmacy Practice and Clinical Therapeutics, explains everything you need to know about your pre-registration year.

Kathryn Davison, Programme Leader for MPharm

What does the year involve?

You will have the option to work in either one or multiple sectors of practice whilst training, including community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy and GP surgeries. There are also a small minority of opportunities in other sectors such as industry and academia. Each sector is distinctly different with regards to daily working practises, but pharmacists must be at a minimum level of competence that would allow transition into any place of work.

There are competencies (set by the General Pharmaceutical Council) that must be met throughout the pre-registration year, these are the same regardless of which area you practice in.

Then on successful completion of the foundation training year, you will be required to pass the national registration assessment set by the General Pharmaceutical Council before you are eligible to start your career as a Pharmacist. General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) figures show that the University of Sunderland is consistently one of the top-ranking Schools of Pharmacy in the National Registration Assessment. The pass rate in 2019 was 89.82% which is significantly above the national average of 72.33%

How do I apply?

Applications for placements are made through a national portal known as the Oriel system. This is similar to the UCAS system – you can preference where you would like to work, write your application and track its progress. You will then undertake an interview/assessment process before you are offered a post.

What support will I get?

You will be given a great deal of support with the application process and we run a programme specific careers fair every year, allowing you to meet employers and build awareness of potential career opportunities at relevant points in your undergraduate studies. We also ensure you undertake placement experience during your undergraduate studies in all areas of practice, so you can make informed choices about where you prefer to work throughout your pre-registration training year.

After graduation the university runs a Trainee Pharmacist Foundation Programme that trainees can attend during their year in practice. This is an enormous support that many other universities don’t offer.

What advice would you give to students who are close to starting their pre-registration year in order to give themselves the best chance of success?

My advice to future foundation training students is this:

  • If you’re in a community pharmacy make sure you continue to study your clinical skills as hospital pharmacists use these a lot.
  • For hospital pharmacists, make sure you know about the business aspects of pharmacy, what services are available in a retail setting and learn to recognise signs and symptoms of illness and when to refer a patient, keep studying the licensing of products and maximum doses of common medications.
  • Keep up to date with current guidelines and treatment updates throughout the year.
  • Work consistently on your studies throughout the year. Don’t leave your revision to the last minute as the assessment is such high stakes.
  • Take advantage of the expertise of the staff you work with. They are a huge resource and source of knowledge and experience that you can learn from.

What might students find most difficult about the pre-registration year?

Juggling full time work at a pharmacy and studying for the end of year national registration assessment can be quite difficult. But during your time on the course we will give you the skills to learn how to prioritise your tasks effectively so this will help with time management.

Published: 5 February 2021