Hospital V Community Pharmacy

There are many pre-registration pharmacists out there that are faced with the dilemma - Hospital or Community? What are the differences? What are the prospects? What would I find more difficult?

These are some of the common questions that cross each junior pharmacists mind and I would like to share my experience. I myself was faced with this dilemma and I found that with most of my peers, there was an even split amongst the two sectors.

I had obtained work experience in both hospital and community pharmacies as a pharmacy student and I found both very different. I would advise that you do the same, definitely try out both!

I felt that community pharmacy was based more around sales and targets, and if you were business minded this would be more suited to you. Whereas in hospital pharmacy, it was far more clinically challenging, furthermore you will be working within the multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

I think one must decide what do you find to be more stimulating, and what can you see yourself doing in the long term – however bear in mind that you can always change sectors however far down the line you are.


If you are wondering what I chose- I went for hospital pharmacy. I really enjoyed my hospital pharmacy placements and decided to join the STEP programme which gave me exposure to different departments and I rotated through different wards, which helped guide me towards making a decision on what suited me the most- and remember if you choose this sector, you can always locum in community (sometimes a little more difficult initially the other way around as hospital experience is required).

It is important to consider that when working within hospital pharmacy, there are several different departments that you can find your niche in – aseptic, ward-based, dispensary, medicines information, clinical governance etc – the list goes on!

There is also a lot of scope for progression to more senior and managerial roles, this is also the case with community pharmacy however there may only be one pharmacy manager in a small community pharmacy...

Also – don’t limit yourself – there are many opportunities abroad for both sectors.


I think the take home message would most definitely be to try both – there are many pharmacies that are happy to accommodate a few weeks of voluntary experience, and you never know what you would end up really enjoying or decide that is just not your cup of tea. Also another piece of advice would be to try out a few different pharmacies in the same sector– as a student I obtained work experience in both Tesco community pharmacy and Lloyds community pharmacy and found the working practices quite different, it is important to work with different teams.

In hospital pharmacy, I enjoyed working closely with patients, doctors and nurses and making significant clinical interventions and evaluating medication to work towards optimisation of use. Other daily duties included participating in the dispensary, and carrying out clinical and accuracy checking of prescriptions and dispensed medicines.

Also it involves reviewing and assessing inpatient and outpatient prescriptions for legality, accuracy, safety and appropriateness of drug therapy. All of the work must comply with Medicines Ethics and Practice, local policies and procedures, risk management and health and safety policies and protocols. As with both sectors, communication skills are essential and you must communicate effectively to other relevant healthcare professionals and patients. So try both and see where it takes you!

What route have you chosen? 

Samrina Bhatti LinkedIn Profile


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