To become a pharmacist, you must first complete a Master’s degree in pharmacy, known as the MPharm, at university. This usually takes four years, and is followed by a work-based foundation training programme. After successfully completing the foundation year and passing the registration assessment, you can register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), or Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, in order to legally practise as a pharmacist. From 2026, all newly qualified pharmacists trained under new standards will also be independent prescribers.
If you qualified as a pharmacist outside of the European Economic Area (EEA), or hold an EEA pharmacist qualification which is not recognised in the UK as a 'relevant' qualification, you may be eligible for the Overseas Pharmacists' Assessment Programme (OSPAP). This allows you to register as a pharmacist with the GPhC via the overseas-qualified pharmacist route. Pharmacists who enter the register through this route will not be independent prescribers unless they complete additional training.
More information about qualifying as a pharmacist can be found through NHS Health Careers, the Pharmacy Futures NI website from the Pharmacy Forum Northern Ireland, or on the Pharmacy Schools Council website.