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University of Leicester Launches Course to Tackle UK’s Pharmacist Shortage

The University of Leicester is set to train the next generation of pharmacists to address challenges in the National Health Service.

Pharmacists are on the UK Government’s skilled worker shortage list, and labour market data indicates jobs in pharmacy are set to grow by 6.9% by 2027, creating 4,700 jobs, compared to the UK workforce average of 6% growth. In the same period, 52.8% of the workforce is projected to retire, creating 35,600 job openings.

Leicester Time: University of Leicester Launches Course to Tackle UK’s Pharmacist Shortage
Picture: University of Leicester

Those who successfully complete the four year Master of Pharmacy programme at Leicester will be equipped to take their first step in a profession that offers superb career prospects – and will be helping to plug the nation’s skill gap.

Professor David Wright, Head of the School of Healthcare at the University of Healthcare, said: “With a rise in people accessing the ever-growing range of pharmacy services and the projected number of new job openings in the profession, it’s clear to see the UK is in dire need of newly qualified pharmacists.

“Given the need for more pharmacists who can take responsibility for aspects of patient care, including the prescribing of medicines, we have worked quickly and closely with patients, carers and employers to design a new and innovative MPharm programme at Leicester.”

He added: “It will be led by pharmacists, delivered by pharmacists for pharmacists – and therefore students will be surrounded by professional role models who will not only deliver knowledge and know-how but also guide them through to becoming safe and caring healthcare professionals.”

Students will join a programme designed to deliver the knowledge and skills that they will need in practice, but will also spend 40 weeks working alongside pharmacists and their teams in clinical placements, gaining valuable experience and insight into the profession and the patients that are cared for its members.  Placements will be offered across a range of settings with pharmacy teams across the Midlands, including in community pharmacies, hospitals and GP surgeries. They will also have the chance to complete a research project or overseas internship.

Provisionally accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), the University of Leicester course will allow successful graduates to enter Foundation Year training, which, once completed, will see them become registered pharmacists.

Pharmacists can practise in the community, hospital and GP surgeries helping patients to treat and manage acute and chronic conditions. Other career routes include industry where they are involved in research and development, production and quality control of drugs marketing and strategy. Some may choose to return to academia to pursue research and to teach the next generation of pharmacists. 

Professor Wright added: “Our course offers applicants the chance to launch a rewarding career in a profession that is full of opportunities to progress.

“Students will learn from a dedicated team of experts with a huge amount of experience across all areas of pharmacy. We are excited to welcome our first students to the University in autumn 2024.

“Or our students will be joining hundreds of other students in the School of Healthcare and the Medical School who are embarking on careers caring for people who are ill and supporting them to recover or to live well with their illness. They will have opportunities to work with and meet students from nursing, midwifery, radiography, physiotherapy and operating department practitioners across the four years. 

“The focus of our curriculum from day one is on developing the skills and professionalism needed to care for patients and take responsibility for the medicines that they take, as well as developing the clinical and scientific knowledge required for practice. Our teaching will be delivered in small groups supporting our students to develop and enhance the teamworking skills they will need to thrive for a career in a caring profession in the 21st century.”

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