5 approved steps to working as a pharmacist in the UK for oversea pharmacist

Are you an oversea pharmacy graduate that wants to register to become a pharmacist in the UK? This step by step guide could help you. Oversea pharmacy graduates who want to become a pharmacist in the UK should read the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhc) page as it has all the information you require. To summarize, however, I have put up the five steps you need to follow.

How can I work as a pharmacist in the UK?

To register to work as a pharmacist in the UK, you have to follow these five (5) steps.

  1. Assessment of eligibility to join the OSPAP course by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). This is the registration body in charge of regulating pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises in the UK.
  2. Complete the Overseas Pharmacists Assessment Programme (OSPAP) course.
  3. Complete the fifty-two (52) weeks pre-registration training in England, Scotland or Wales.
  4. Sit for and pass the GPhC registration assessment.
  5. Apply for and join the GPHC register.

You must complete these steps and apply for registration within four years from the date that you started your OSPAP course.

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)
pharmacist in the uk
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Step 1: Assessment of eligibility to join the OSPAP course by GPhC

The first step towards becoming a pharmacist in the UK is to apply to do the OSPAP course. You will need to be assessed by the General Pharmaceutical Council (the registration body in charge of regulating pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises). They will assess if you are eligible to complete the OSPAP course. They will check your previous qualifications, work experience, English language competency and if you are fit to practice.

You will need to complete the form called the Applying for eligibility to complete an Overseas Pharmacists Assessment Programme (OSPAP). Assessing your eligibility will cost £687 and is not refundable, even if your application is unsuccessful.

It is important that you read the guidance that accompanies the application form as it gives you all the information you require and the correct form that is required.

To print the form, go to this page and look for the form under “Are you eligible to apply for an OSPAP course?”. Look for the part that I have coloured yellow then print the form. Note it is not coloured yellow in the GPHC page. I coloured it in the picture for illustration purposes.

OSPAP form
OSPAP form

Eligibility

To be eligible to be enrolled to the OSPAP course, you have to hold a pharmacy qualification gained overseas and be registered, or eligible to be registered as pharmacists in the country you gained the qualification. For example for a Pharmacy graduate in Nigeria, you have to either be registered with the pharmacist council of Nigeria or be eligible for registration with them.

How does your pharmacy qualification compare with the UK MPharm qualification

You will need to know how your international pharmacy qualification compares with the UK Masters of Pharmacy (MPharm) qualification. If in doubt about how your qualification compares to the UK (MPharm) qualification, contact The UK National Recognition Information Centre(UK NARIC) as they can assess your qualification and issue you an official document known as a ‘Statement of Comparability’. This document spells out how your foreign qualification compares to the UK (MPharm) qualification.

English language competency

You may need to provide evidence to show English language competency. In the guidance that accompanies your application, you will be able to find out if you need to provide evidence and the type of evidence the GPhc would accept. The guidance can be found here.

Step 2: Complete the Overseas Pharmacists’ Assessment Programme (OSPAP)

Overseas Pharmacists’ Assessment Programme (OSPAP) is a postgraduate diploma that qualified pharmacists from outside the European Union can undertake in order to meet the qualification required to register with the GPHC.

It is a one-year course which aims to prepare qualified overseas pharmacy graduates with necessary education and training for UK pharmacy practice and entry to pre-registration training.

Universities that offer the Accredited OSPAP courses in the UK

Only UK universities accredited by the GPhC to offer an overseas pharmacists’ assessment programme (OSPAP) course have recognised qualifications that will enable oversea pharmacists eligible for registration. These universities are listed below.

Step 3: Complete the fifty-two (52) weeks pre-registration training

The pre-registration training year will be done in a placement either within the community, hospital, combination of hospital and community or combination of hospital and industry that is a GPhC approved training site. During this placement, you will have the opportunity to develop and show the important skills, behaviours and knowledge needed to practice to the standards expected of a pharmacist in the UK.  

You will work under the guidance and supervision of a GPhC approved tutor who is themselves a practising pharmacist in the UK. Over the 52 weeks, you will have to show your tutor that you meet all of the performance standards as outlined in the pre-registration manual.

You will have to find a GPhC approved training site for your placement and inform the GPhC by applying for entry to the pre-registration year scheme.  The GPhC will then assess your application to ensure that you are eligible to start the pre-registration training and that the training site and tutor are appropriate for you to enable you to meet all of the performance standards.

Step 4: Sit for and pass the GPhC registration assessment

Your next step towards becoming a pharmacist in the UK is to sit for and pass the GPhC registration assessment. The GPhC states that it tests pre-registration trainee pharmacists to make sure that they can show that they can apply the knowledge gained appropriately and in a timely manner to make professional judgements while practising as a pharmacist. This includes calculation tests in order to show that trainees’ are able to do the calculations necessary for them to practice as a pharmacist in the UK.

It is a two-part (calculation and pharmacy practice) exam that has to be sat and passed in one sitting and can only sit it for a maximum of three times. This exam is done simultaneously in different locations across Great Britain. It is usually done two times a year (June and September).

Step 5: Join the GPHC register

Provided you have successfully completed the OSPAP course, the fifty-two (52) weeks pre-registration training, and passed the GPhC registration assessment, you have met the eligibility criteria and can now apply register with us as a pharmacist in the UK. This should be done via myGPhC and should be done within four years of the starting your OSPAP course.

Got more questions?

If you have any more question about becoming a pharmacist in the UK, you can ask in the forum and I will answer you as soon as you can.

About the author

Nwasom is a pharmacy graduate and a pharmacist currently practicing in the United Kingdom. I have  great experience communicating with patient and their family as gained through working as a pharmacist in both the hospital and community pharmacy sector. I love writing so it was a natural thing to try and pass medical and health information on through writing.