Pharmacists are an important part of health provision in Ireland. They are experts in and have extensive knowledge of medicines.
There are two main types of pharmacists:
- Hospital-based pharmacists. These are people who prepare medicines for patients while they are in the hospital. You would also dispense (or give out) discharge medicines to let people go home safely.
- Dispensing pharmacists. This type of work is on the high street or in medical centres. They are also known as community pharmacists.
In both locations, pharmacists are senior decision-makers. You will be heads of teams which also include pharmacy assistants and pharmacy technicians. Therefore pharmacists are medical experts who are also team leaders.
The role of pharmacists has been developing for centuries. Medicines regulation and the use of medicines have expanded massively in recent decades. But so has the role of pharmacists. Therefore, pharmacists are now taking on more of a diagnostic role on top of dispensing. This means many can treat common illnesses. Dispensing pharmacists also help people to stay well by supporting healthy lifestyles.
A shortage of pharmacists in recent years, along with the expansion of the service, has brought changes. It means the position is increasingly well-paid and well-regarded.
What Does a Pharmacist Do
Pharmacists are experts in medicines and treating illnesses effectively and safely. The most common things which a pharmacist does are:
- Dispensing medicines.
- Prescribing medicines. To do this, you will need to be qualified to do so).
- Providing patients with advice about prescriptions. This includes information on drug dosages and risks. It also covers how to use and store medication.
- Managing and keeping stock secure.
- Supervising and training staff like junior pharmacists.
Community pharmacists also do the following:
- Offer health advice.
- Deal with basic illnesses.
- Participate in some vaccination and screening programmes.
Hospital-based pharmacists also buy, test and distribute medicines in a hospital.
Who Employs Pharmacists
There are two ways pharmacists can be employed. One is by the government to work in a hospital. These are people who prepare medicines for patients while they are in the hospital. You would also dispense (or give out) discharge medicines. This enables people go home safely.
Most pharmacists are dispensing pharmacists. You would work on the high street or in medical centres. You are also known as community pharmacists. The community pharmacies where you would work are private businesses. These community pharmacies are paid as part of pharmaceutical contracts with the government. This means they are paid for by health authorities and they have to work to certain levels with the public. Many jobs a community pharmacist does through a pharmaceutical contract will be delivered free to the public.
In community pharmacy, the profit of a pharmacy is shared between the senior people who own the pharmacy. In most cases, community pharmacies are part of large chains. However, some community pharmacies are small chains or one-off businesses. In these two examples, community pharmacists will also own their own businesses.
Job Salary for a Pharmacist in Ireland
Pharmacist salaries can vary quite significantly. This usually depends on your experience and seniority.
It also depends on where you work in different ways. For example, hospital pharmacists tend to earn less than those working in the community. In addition to this, pharmacists practising in Dublin will usually earn at least 10% more than in other parts of Ireland. This is because of the much higher cost of living in Dublin.
There are also a variety of sources for how much a pharmacist is paid. One source says the average pharmacist salary is €62,970 gross per year. This is about €5,200 per month. This salary for a pharmacist in Ireland is equal to around €30.27 gross per hour.
Another source pegs the average pharmacist salary as close to €58,861 per year. It also estimates a minimum starting salary of €40,000. This can rise as high as €77,000 for experienced pharmacists.
However, it’s very difficult to pinpoint an exact average.
General Salary Levels in Ireland
Some other figures are useful. These will allow you to compare the pharmacist salary in Ireland with other professions. And they will show how a pharmacist’s salary in Ireland is well-paid.
According to the Central Statistics Office, the national average salary in Ireland is €45,324. That’s a salary after tax of €34,815 a year. It is also equivalent to €2,901 a month. Or you can look at it as €670 a week.
A good salary in Ireland is said to start at €45,000 across the country. This rises to €50,000 in Dublin. This overall translates to €2,887 every month after tax. It is also equivalent to €3,102 monthly before tax.
Further, the current Minimum Wage in Ireland is €11.30. This must be paid to people aged 20 and over. This means the minimum untaxed income for a 40-hour week is €452. Per month this works out to just under €2000. It is also equivalent to around €23,500 per year.
How Often is a Pharmacist Normally Paid
Most pharmacists can normally expect to be paid a salary every month.
If a community pharmacist is an owner or shareholder in a community pharmacy, there can be additional income. These pharmacists can also expect to be paid dividends based on the profit of the practice.
Who Negotiates a Job Salary for a Pharmacist
Hospital pharmacists receive a salary depending on seniority and the fixed rates negotiated with the hospital. This is done by health trade unions.
Community pharmacists will be paid salaries offered at levels by the community pharmacy businesses that employ them.
What Sort of Contracts Do Pharmacists Have
Pharmacists in both hospital and community settings tend to have a permanent contract. This type of contract will be clear about hours and rates of pay. These contracts will also specify overtime rates.
Your potential career progression in pharmacy is linked to experience within the pharmacy teams. In recent years there has been a shortage of pharmacists in both community and hospital settings. This can help increase earning potential.
Some very experienced and wealthy community pharmacists can expect to be able to buy or buy into single community pharmacies or small chains. That way they can own all or part of the business. These tend to be the most wealthy pharmacists.
How to Become a Pharmacist
The road to becoming a pharmacist in Ireland is a long and thorough one. These factors reflect the unique responsibilities and duties of the role.
Understanding the educational and training requirements to become a pharmacist is important if you want to become one. To do this you will need to have a relevant degree first. After that, you will need to take additional training.
Qualifications/Courses – Pharmacist
To become a pharmacist, you will first need to get a Master’s degree in pharmacy. You earn this from a pharmacy school. There are three pharmacy schools in Ireland. These are through the Royal College of Surgeons, Trinity College Dublin, and University College Cork. Each one of them offers a Master’s degree and training programme that lasts five years. Applications for places on these programmes should be made through the Central Applications Office (CAO).
Further, to enter a pharmacy school you will need around excellent points in your school leaving certificate.
The five years of study to become a pharmacist are split like this:
- For the first four years, you will be achieving the B.Pharm. This is done through lectures, tutorials, labs, and placement.
- In your final year will be focused on achieving the M.Pharm. This qualification is achieved by doing a thesis and placement.
After qualifying, you move on to doing an eight-month placement in a pharmacy. Once this is done, you will also need to sit a professional membership entrance exam. This will be organised by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI). This is a separate application process undertaken with the PSI to be placed on the Register of Pharmacists. This exam is only held twice a year.
Once this is all done, you will be qualified as a pharmacist. This means you can either work in a hospital setting, or you can focus on being a community pharmacist.
Registering as a Pharmacist
All pharmacists need to register with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI). The fee for first-time registration currently stands at €540. You will need to do this to work as a hospital pharmacist or in a community pharmacy. The PSI regulates the professional conduct of pharmacists. The PSI also advises on the quality of courses at all universities for pharmacists. Further, you can register with the PSI even if you are between jobs as a pharmacist.
General Skills Required
- A pharmacist must have the willingness to continue to learn about pharmacology, medicines and disease throughout your working life.
- Excellent communication skills are needed. This is because you will be working with a wide variety of different people from different walks of life. You will also usually deal with a wide variety of ages,
- Thoroughness and attention to detail are needed.
- You also need excellent maths knowledge.
- Good managerial and administrative skills are essential if you end up managing part of a community pharmacy.
- Pharmacists need patient focus and customer service skills.
- You must be a good team player with the pharmaceutical team. This means working constructively with others carrying out aligned tasks in healthcare.
- Some computer literacy is required. This is needed in order to record information relating to patients.
- You must always respect confidentiality relating to patient records.
- Good time-keeping helps you get through busy working days.
Mechanical Skills Required
Pharmacists will need to be able to operate different mixing and dispensing equipment.
Challenges of Being a Pharmacist
- You must be thorough. You must also have a strong eye for detail. Mistakes in community or hospital pharmacies can be life-threatening.
- Further, being a pharmacist is often repetitive work.
- You will need to maintain knowledge of new and emerging medicines.
- You will usually need to wear protective clothing and a uniform.
- Medical care is challenging for all professionals involved. You must always be professional. This means maintaining a professional outlook which treats the public with respect. No matter how difficult a person is being, your professionalism is essential.
Type of Person Suited for this Work
- A good pharmacist must be detailed and methodical.
- You must also be someone with a patient-focused outlook.
- The ability to deal with stress is also important.
- Finally, a pharmacist must be a team player. You need to be someone who can work to direction. But you need must be able to direct others if working as head of a pharmacy team.
General Expected Working Hours
A community pharmacist can be expected to work around forty hours a week. Community pharmacies are open between roughly 8 am and 6 pm. The working days are Monday to Saturday. Some pharmacies will also open on Sundays and Bank Holidays due to a rota across a geographic area. This means some anti-social hours are unavoidable.
A hospital pharmacist can also be expected to work around forty hours a week.
Location of Work
The majority of pharmacists in Ireland are community pharmacists. These are usually located in high street locations or sometimes in health centres.
A significant minority of pharmacists can also be found in hospitals. Some pharmacists also work at a university or at a research facility.
Larger community pharmacies will have more than one pharmacist. This means there is potential for promotion within the team. If you are working for a large community pharmacy chain, other roles can open up. For example, you could be promoted to team manager, regional manager or even national manager.
Another career route is to become a pharmacy consultant.
Some very experienced and wealthy community pharmacists can expect to be able to buy into pharmacies. This can be buying into single community pharmacies or small chains. That way you can own all or part of the business. These tend to be the most wealthy pharmacists.
There is always the opportunity for pharmacists to move between community pharmacies and hospital pharmacies. This can happen in both directions.
Additionally, some pharmacists move into other fields. Examples are teaching, scientific journalism or publishing.
Finally, some pharmacy experts do a postgraduate qualification in a subject like toxicology or pharmacology and move into research.