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Pharmacist

by Staff Reporter
If you have a passion for medicine and science with an interest in bridging the gap between doctors and patients, a career as a Pharmacist could be for you.

Career Overview

Pharmacists are responsible for dispensing and advising on the safe use of medication – both prescription and ‘over-the-counter’. More specifically, they specialise in the formulation, manufacturing, controlling, selling and storage of medicines. Their duties can also often involve conducting medical screenings, giving injections or vaccinations and providing medical advice.

Required School Subjects

You will need to have taken the following subjects at high school:

  • Pure Mathematics
  • Physical Sciences
  • English (Home Language or First Additional Language)

Recommended subjects:

  • Life Sciences

Institution and APS

The following institutions are highly recommended for students wanting to study Pharmacy:

  • University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN): Minimum APS of 33
  • Rhodes University: Minimum APS of 35
  • University of Witwatersrand (Wits): no specific APS for Health Sciences Faculty
  • University of Limpopo (UL): Minimum APS of 27

Required Qualification/s

To practice as a Pharmacist, you must have a degree in Pharmacy (BPharm). Once you have completed this degree, you need to gain practical experience for 1-2 years and register with the South African Pharmacy Council. 

Each institution in South Africa has a unique set of requirements that applicants are required to meet.  In terms of the recommended institutions above, here are the minimum entrance requirements for the qualifications on offer:

  • Rhodes University
    • NSC with a Bachelor status OR a matric exemption certificate from the Board
    • 70% or more in Mathematics, Life Sciences and Physical Sciences
    • An APS score of at least 35
  • University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN)
    • NSC for degree studies
    • English 50-59%
    • Life Sciences 50-59%
    • Life Orientation 50-50%
    • Mathematics 50-59%
    • Physical Sciences 50-59%
    • Minimum APS score of 33
  • University of Witwatersrand (Wits)
    • English Home OR First Additional Language 60-69%
    • Life Sciences AND/OR Physical Science 60-69%
    • Mathematics 60-69%
    • Completed NBTs
  • University of Limpopo (UL)
    • NSC with Bachelor exemption
    • Minimum APS score of 27
    • English 50-59%
    • Mathematics 60-69%
    • Physical Sciences 60-69%
    • Life Sciences 60-69%
    • 50-59% in the other two additional subjects

Required Skills

You will need to show:

  • Good communication and listening skills
  • Scientific aptitude
  • Compassion towards people
  • Attention to detail and responsibility
  • Professionalism
  • Endurance and hard work
  • Critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills

Where you can work

You can specialise in one of the following areas:

  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Research
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturers
  • Retail pharmacies
  • And more…

Working Hours

Depending on where you work, your hours can range from 40 hours a week (9am-5pm), to working during the night, over weekends and on public holidays.

Expected Salary

According to PayScale, the average pay for a Pharmacist ranges between R239k – R671k per year, depending on experience.

What to expect

Here are a few things you can expect from a career as a Pharmacist:

  • Complete understanding of medicine; verifying that patients have been given the right dosage and ensuring the optimum use of prescribed medication.
  • Always having an eye for detail, whether this means checking dosages, quality assuring products, keeping records or doing administrative tasks.
  • Daily interaction with patients — giving instructions on how and when to take certain medications and advising on general health topics.

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