How to become a Pharmacist
Entry requirements for the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, are available from the Admissions Office. Please note these are minimum requirements. Seventy places are available annually and because of demand, applicants will have to present qualifications which are substantially higher than the prescribed minimum to ensure success. Further information on this course is available from: http://www.tcd.ie/courses/undergraduate/az/course.php?id=DUBPH-PHAR-3F09
The School is pleased to announce that it will be accepting a limited number of graduate applicants onto its BSc (Pharmacy) degree course.
Entry criteria will be as follows:
- Candidates must hold, or expect to hold, by July prior to entry, a minimum second class honours grade result in their first honours bachelor degree (NFQ level 8). This degree can be in any discipline. Applications will also be accepted from individuals who did not achieve a minimum second class honours grade result in their first honours bachelor degree but who have been awarded a Masters degree or a PhD.
- In addition, applicants must have obtained at least a Grade C in Honours Chemistry in the Leaving Certificate or must have successfully undertaken a Chemistry course in a Third Level institution.
- Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview.
Students must apply to the CAO (by 1st February) and must also complete the TCD online application form (by 1st February) and provide supporting documentation (references, transcripts etc). Further details are available from the Admissions Office the Admissions Office or the School Office (Ms. Elizabeth O'Shaughnessy - Pharmacy@tcd.ie).
Link to the TCD graduate entry online application form:
Tuition fees will be state-funded for the first four years of the programme for students who satisfy the Free Fees Criteria (see: https://www.tcd.ie/academicregistry/fees-payments/free-fees/). A tuition fee will, however, have to be paid by all students for the fifth year of this programme. It is estimated that the fee will be circa €8,000.
Careers in Pharmacy
All graduates who wish to practise Pharmacy must be registered with The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland. In addition, most pharmacists become members of the Society. The professional activities in a community pharmacy must be supervised personally by a pharmacist.
In the hospital services, pharmacists, as members of the health care team, have special responsibilities relating to the supply and use of medicines.
Pharmacists in the pharmaceutical industry co-operate with other disciplines in producing medicines of the highest quality and safety. A pharmaceutical qualification is an excellent basis for achieving posts of responsibility at the most senior level. Vacancies for pharmacists with the requisite experience become available at intervals in the Defence Forces.
The administration of health services by the Health Boards has provided new opportunities for pharmacists, particularly in the area of community care. The emphasis on primary health care teams as a major element for achieving economies in health budgets has created a new dimension of pharmaceutical activity. More advanced courses, leading to higher degrees in subjects like Pharmaceutics, Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmacognosy and Practice of Pharmacy, are available to graduates with good undergraduate records. Vacancies in the academic world occur from time to time.
Pharmacists in the community practice occupy a unique position. A pharmacist's advice is readily available to the public. For that reason, the community pharmacy is the most immediately available and frequently used source of information on the safe and proper use of medicines as well as general health matters.
The pharmacist supervises the compounding and dispensing of prescriptions, the supply of medicines and the sale of poisons. Increasingly, pharmacists are called upon for advice on the health services, family planning, drug misuse and abuse, and other related topics. Community pharmacists represent the final link with the public for both prescribed and non-prescription drugs and medicines. Professional control is necessary since the patients' needs must be matched to safe and effective treatment.
In Ireland, community pharmacies are privately owned, yet they provide services under contract to many patients whose medical needs are funded partly or wholly by the State. Most pharmacies have experienced support staff who work under the personal supervision of the pharmacist. Therefore, community pharmacists, by far the largest segment of the profession, require scientific, administrative, supervisory and counselling skills of a very high standard since their daily work involves maturity and judgement. They provide an effective control mechanism over the proper use of drugs in society. Normally, the young graduate will spend some time working in a pharmacy to gain experience before taking on sole management responsibility.
The professions concerned with health care work together as a team. Nowhere is this more evident than in the hospital services. A person taking up the career of hospital pharmacist can be assured of a challenging and interesting job, one that changes rapidly in response to developments in the health care field. The pharmacist must be able to integrate well with co-workers, for example, doctors, nurses, radiologists etc.
The pharmacist is primarily responsible for supplying medicines as efficiently and economically as possible; for their secure and proper storage and for their distribution throughout the hospital. The quality, safety and use of medicines must be closely monitored by the pharmacist. This usually entails involvement at ward level. It requires constant updating to keep abreast with the many new or reformulated products being developed by medical and pharmaceutical researchers.
The hospital pharmacy is the centre of drug information. The pharmacist is expected to lecture nurses and medical students on the action of drugs, dose rates, side effects and related problems. They act on the drug therapeutic committees where overall policy is determined in relation to drug usage, new products, clinical trials, infection control, the hospital formulary etc. The pharmacist increasingly plays a vital role in clinical budgeting and on finance committees.
While most medicines nowadays are formulated and prepackaged by the pharmaceutical industry, medications may have to be individually prepared for particular patients. The pharmacist must retain the traditional compounding skills to meet these requirements. Even with modern innovations, there is still a significant demand for this service. It is also important in the preparation of sterile products and of disinfectants.
The career structure in hospital pharmacy provides for an increasing degree of responsibility. The pharmacist, after a year's post-graduate experience, enters the service at the basic grade. With time, he or she moves from basic to senior grade and then either to Chief II or Chief I status. In normal circumstances, promotion can be achieved in a reasonable time scale.
The Pharmaceutical Industry
The Irish Pharmaceutical Industry, both in terms of manufacturing and marketing, has grown dynamically over the last 20 years. It continues to grow and, on the manufacturing side, is fundamentally export-orientated. Within both the manufacturing and marketing sides of the industry, all the major international pharmaceutical companies are represented and, moreover, the industry extends into the area of non-pharmaceutical health care, including medical devices and diagnostic products.
Pharmaceutical companies, depending on their size, typically include a multi-disciplinary team and the pharmacist may have considerable scope for his qualifications - if possible complemented with additional qualifications to his/her primary degree in the areas of sales/marketing, research and development, production quality control, administration and management.
The work of the production pharmacist involves the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and, as such, affords the pharmacist the opportunity to employ both technical skills and management expertise.
Before any batch of a medicinal product is released for sale, a number of tests are carried out on samples of the batch to ensure that the product meets the required standards. These tests are carried out by the quality control department and the head of that department, known as the "Qualified Person", is responsible for authorising the release of the product. The pharmacist, by virtue of his/her training, is in an excellent position to undertake the role of " Qualified Person".
All human medicines must be licenced by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (H.P.R.A.) prior to being sold here. The role of the registration pharmacist is to prepare dossiers in a specific format for submission to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (H.P.R.A.) in order to obtain a licence. The H.P.R.A. is also the licensing authority for veterinary medicines.
The information pharmacist provides information to doctors and pharmacists about the Company's products. He/she may also be involved in areas such as the training of the Company sales personnel and the compilation of technical booklets. Excellent opportunities exist for pharmacists in the area of sales and marketing of pharmaceuticals.
Wholesalers supply medicines to the pharmacies. The wholesaler is an essential element in the mechanism of distribution which commences in the manufacturing laboratory and ends when a product is supplied to a patient in a pharmacy. In general the practice in pharmaceutical wholesaling is to appoint a pharmacist to be responsible for the ordering, storage and supply of medicines in compliance with forensic regulations. Experience and training in management can lead to additional responsibilities at the highest levels.
E.U. Directives provide for the free movement of pharmacists within the European Union. A pharmacist registered in one member state is entitled to move to another member country and be recognised there.
Higher degrees in Pharmaceutical sciences
Pharmacy graduates are eligible to apply for registration as graduate students for the degree of M.Sc., or Ph.D., in one of the pharmaceutical sciences. Candidates are normally required to possess a good honours degree. Details of the regulations for higher degrees are available from the Graduate Studies Office in Trinity. Higher degrees in a pharmaceutical science are usually required for appointments to academic posts. Taught M.Sc. courses are also available in Hospital Pharmacy, Community Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Analysis and Pharmaceutical Technology.