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Everything you need to know about the Trainee Pharmacist Foundation Programme

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The Trainee Pharmacist Foundation Programme (FPTP) is a training year that is completed after your MPharm or OSPAP studies. It is a year undertaken in pharmacy practice and is an essential element of training to become a fully registered pharmacist. Alexander Moore, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice and Clinical Therapeutics, and the course leader for the FPTP, explains everything you need to know about your foundation training year.

Alexander Moore smiling at the camera

What does the year involve?

"You'll have the option to work in either one or multiple sectors of practice whilst training, including community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, and primary care. 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 practices, but you must be at a minimum level of competence that would allow transition into any place of work once you're a qualified pharmacist.

There are learning outcomes that are set and regulated by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) that you must achieve throughout foundation training and are consistent across every sector of work. Each learning outcome is assessed to a specific level (knows, knows how, shows how and does) and you must achieve at that level in order to meet the learning outcome.

In June and November of every year, the GPhC sets a nationwide registration assessment which assesses trainee knowledge in relation to being a safe and effective pharmacist. This assessment consists of two papers, a pharmacy calculations paper and another assessing clinical, legal, and ethical content. Both papers must be passed in a single sitting to be eligible to start your career as a pharmacist."

How do I apply?

"To apply for foundation training, you must go through a national system known as Oriel. In Oriel you can preference where you would like to work including location and sector and track the progress of your application. You’ll then undertake an interview/assessment process before you are offered a post."

What support will I get with my application?

"You'll be given a great deal of support with the application process, and we run a 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."

What are the key things I need to know?

"My advice to future foundation training students is:

  • 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 minor 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 is the most challenging thing about the 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'll give you the skills to learn how to prioritise your tasks effectively, so this will help with time management."

Published: 13 December 2023