Pharmacy

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Do you have excellent interpersonal skills? Are you a strong communicator who pays attention to detail while having great analytical and research skills? If you have an interest in helping others and have a caring and helpful nature, pharmacy could be an area that will suit you. 

What is pharmacy?

Pharmacy is a clinical health science that focuses on the preparing and dispensing of medicine. It links chemistry with medical science and focuses on the discovery, production, disposal and the safe, effective use and control of medications and drugs. 

What third level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in the following subject areas:

  • Pharmacy – TCD, UCC, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Science
  • Pharmacy Technician – AIT, LYIT, ITT, TU Dublin – Grangegorman, IT Carlow

Studying pharmacy in college 

There are both PLC courses and undergraduate courses available in the area of Pharmacy. PLC courses will range from 1-2 years. There are a number of opportunities to study Pharmacy in different universities in Ireland. Undergraduate degrees in this area are all 5 years in length. All courses will allow you to gain the relevant skills and knowledge to work as a pharmacist.

Your first year will introduce you to the basics of what is involved and what is to come throughout your course in the coming years. You will cover modules such as Biochemistry, Principles of Human Structure for Pharmacy Students, Introduction to Pharmaceutical Chemistry,  Physiochemical Basis of Pharmaceuticals, Foundation Pharmacology and Introduction to Physiology. You will also take practical placement in your first year. In UCC, this is a one day placement in the first year but different universities may differ in their exact structure. 

Second and third year will also include practical placement with an option of up to two months placement in your third year, based on UCC’s layout. Modules you will cover throughout the two years will include Molecular Biology, Pharmaceutical Technology, Professional Pharmacy Core Skills, Pharmaceutical Chemistry,  Hepatic and Endocrine Systems, Cardiovascular, Renal & Eye Systems, Clinical Immunology and Infection, Regulatory Science, Pharmacokinetics and many more. 

Your fourth and fifth year of your course will have a large focus on your placement and applying your theory and knowledge to a practical setting. Aside from that you will continue on with your theory learning and will focus on a range of modules. These include Organisation and Management Skills,  Professional Skills Development, Central Nervous System, Emerging Drugs, Drug Design and Mechanism of Action, Supply of Medicines & Organisation and Management Skills among many more. 

As mentioned above, this information is based off the Pharmacy course in UCC and other courses may differ in exact content, modules names and layout. 

Career Options

There are two main options in this area to work in. You can work as a pharmacist in a hospital setting or a pharmacist in the community/retail such as chemists. Job descriptions to distinguish the two can be found below. There are also opportunities to work in wholesaling or regulatory work.

Many who study pharmacy may continue on their studies at postgraduate level to specialise in a particular area and maybe even at PhD level. There is also the option to work in the research side of pharmacy or lecturing in universities in Ireland after you gain experience in the field. 

Skills and qualities important in this area include strong communication skills, the ability to work well with others, observation skills, attention to detail, organisational skills, time management skills, interpersonal skills, research skills, analytical skills, genuine concern for customers, a caring nature, empathy and trustworthy. 

Related Jobs

  • Hospital pharmacist
  • Medicinal chemist
  • Community/retail chemist
  • Pharmacologist
  • Clinical researcher
  • Doctor
  • Nurse

Further Study

Visit postgrad.ie for more information. 

FAQ

Different courses and different colleges will have different entry requirements. It’s always safest to check with the individual higher education institution which is available on their websites. As a general rule Leaving Cert students should have a minimum of six subjects which should include: Two H5 (Higher Level) grades and Four O6 (Ordinary Level) grades or four H7 (Higher Level) grades. Subjects must include Mathematics, Irish or another language, and English. 

Certain QQI Awards in a relevant area may also be accepted. These change from course to course so be sure to research further. 

The highest points required for a Pharmacy course last year was 590 points to study in TCD while the lowest was 579 to study in RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. Points for Pharmacy Technician courses ranged from 260 to 321 points last year. 

Where can I study?

You can explore your options here

Did you know?

  • A pharmacist named John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola. 
  • The global pharmaceuticals market is worth around $300 billion.
  • Benjamin Franklin was a pharmacist while Agatha Christie was a pharmacy technician.

Resources

Student Grant Scheme 

Pharmacist (hospital) job description

Community/retail pharmacist


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