2. Making the most of your pre-registration year


2.1  The aim of pre-registration training

To become a pharmacist, you must be able to demonstrate that you have the knowledge (by passing the registration assessment) and experience (developed during the pre-registration year) needed to practise as a pharmacist.

When mistakes happen, professionalism can be tested. But in the end we believe professional practice offers the best protection for patients and people who use pharmacy services.

The pre-registration training placement gives you the chance to apply your academic knowledge in a real-life situation. The aim is for you to develop and demonstrate the skills, knowledge and behaviours you need to practise to the standards expected of a pharmacist, and in a way that delivers the best outcome for patients and members of the public.

2.2  GPhC’s Standards for pharmacy professionals

The standards for pharmacy professionals are relevant to you (and to all students and trainees) while you are on your journey towards registration and practice.

These standards explain the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours that will be expected of students and trainees if they apply to join the Register. You should use them as a tool to help you prepare for registration, and read them alongside other relevant documents that are provided by your education and training provider.

The public expects pharmacists to be competent and fit to practise pharmacy. We set standards that pharmacy professionals are expected to meet if they are to become registered and stay registered.

Demonstrating that you have kept to our standards is part of the registration process. You will spend at least 26 weeks working in a patient-facing role in a community or hospital pharmacy, and everything you do during this time (and throughout your training) should show that you are keeping to our standards.

If you are not able to show that you have kept to these standards it could affect your eligibility to register – even if you are signed off by your tutor and pass the registration assessment.

We have guidance which tells you more about our standards and supports all pharmacy professionals in practising safely and effectively. You can find:

2.3  The professional duty of candour

2.3.1  Duty of candour to patients

Health professionals must be open and honest with patients when something goes wrong with their treatment or care which causes, or has the potential to cause, harm or distress. This is known as ‘the duty of candour’.

This means that healthcare professionals must:

  • tell the patient (or the patient's advocate, carer or family if this is appropriate) when something has gone wrong
  • apologise to the patient (or the patient's advocate, carer or family if this is appropriate)
  • offer an appropriate remedy or support to put matters right where possible, and explain fully to the patient the long- and short-term effects of what has happened (or explain to the patient's advocate, carer or family if this is appropriate).

We work with other regulators, employers and commissioners of services to help develop a culture in which the principles of openness and honesty are shared and acted on.

We expect and encourage all registrants to reflect on their own learning and continuing professional development needs concerning the duty of candour.

2.3.2 Duty of candour to others

Healthcare professionals must also be open and honest with their colleagues, employers and other relevant organisations, and take part in reviews and investigations when they are asked to. They must support and encourage each other to be open and honest and not stop someone from raising concerns.

Healthcare professionals must also be open and honest with their regulators, raising concerns when this is appropriate.

If you are raising a concern about someone or something at your place of work, read our guidance for raising concerns [PDF 920 KB].

2.4  Tutor assessments (‘sign offs’)

Many trainees worry so much about the registration assessment that they do not focus enough on their training. Under the pre-registration scheme, you will need to be signed off by your tutor four times – at 13, 26, 39 and 52 weeks.

You are not eligible to sit the registration assessment unless you get a satisfactory progress report 3 on your performance standards at 39 weeks. Therefore, getting the most out of your pre-registration year is every bit as important as passing the registration assessment. 

The week-52 sign-off is called the ‘final declaration’. Your tutor needs to be sure that you are competent in all areas of practice before they are able to sign off the final declaration. If any areas of your performance raise doubt that this is the case, we would not expect your tutor to sign your final declaration. If this happens, you may have to complete an extra 26 weeks’ training somewhere else – unless your employer is able to extend your present training placement.

Your tutor can, if they feel it is appropriate, sign off the 52-week declaration from week 49 onwards. But they should only do so if they feel that you have met the required standard, not because you want to register on a particular date.  Once the tutor signs the declaration, they are not able to revoke it. This means that if  you do not preform to the required standard after you have been signed off, this would be considered as a fitness to practice concern.

It is up to you to make the most of your pre-registration year and develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours you will need to work independently as a professional pharmacist.

2.5  What are the key points in the pre-registration year?

The timeline below shows when you need to make contact with the GPhC. You can send scanned copies of most of the forms to us by email, but you will need to send hard copies of some documents to support your registration application, which you must complete on myGPhC. We recommend that you keep a copy of anything that you send us.


Information on the pre-registration year key dates


2.6  The learning contract

Your tutor plays a key role in your training year. If you would like to find out more about their role, go to the tutor section on our website.

You enter into a learning contract with your tutor as part of your application to join the pre-registration scheme. The contract summarises how your training year will be delivered and must include:

  • your details
  • your tutor’s details
  • details of where your training will take place
  • how you will be supervised

If your tutor changes during the training year, you will need to enter into a new learning contract. So that we can review and approve the change, you must send us the new contract as part of a Change of Training details form. The change will only be recognised once we have received the form and approved the change.

 2.7 Your pre-registration number

You will be given a unique pre-registration number, which is printed on your welcome letter. This is the reference number you should quote if you contact us. Your training record is also included with your welcome letter, which you can download from myGPhC.

If you find any mistakes on your training record, you are responsible for telling us about them. If you do not, this could mean that we are not able to recognise your training, which could affect when you are able to sit the registration assessment. 

Your training record displayed in myGPhC is not able to be updated. If you do need tell us about any changes, make sure you email or phone the Contact Centre. We will send you an updated training record to confirm these.

If your personal details change during the year, including if you change your name, you should send us a Change of Details form so that we can update your record.


Training requirements in more detail: 2.8 - 2.19

2.8  Funding for pre-registration training

We do:

  • provide a training record as proof of your training arrangement, for you to give to your employer. If you are a community pharmacy trainee, your employer will send this to the CCG (for trainees in England), Local Health Board (for trainees in Wales) or NES (for trainees in Scotland)
  • send you a new training record:
    • if your training site changes
    • if your training needs to be extended

We do not:

  • give funding for pre-registration training
  • influence whether or not you are eligible for funding within any particular training arrangement or at any stage of training. Therefore we are not able to give advice on whether you will be able to get funding for your training
  • tell anyone else about your change of training arrangements, so any responsibility for telling funding providers about this lies with you or your employer (or both)
  • show on your training record whether your training is full or part–time, so any responsibility for telling funding providers about this lies with you or your employer (or both)
  • issue a training record to anyone other than the trainee named on the training record.

2.9  Restrictions on the training site and tutor

To make sure there is an objective relationship between trainees and tutors, you must not train anywhere that you:

  • have a significant financial interest in, or
  • have a significant relationship with a director, owner or employee

‘Significant’ relationships include:

  • any family relationships, such as father, mother, aunt, uncle, cousin and so on
  • family relationships through marriage or civil partnership
  • girlfriend-boyfriend-partner relationships
  • people you depend on financially or to whom you have a financial commitment
  • people who depend on you financially or who have a financial commitment to you

In a public sector placement (for example an NHS hospital trust) where there is clearly no commercial interest, we will consider applications from trainees wanting to train at a site where a family member or partner works. However, the training provider is responsible for making sure that training and assessment is managed by someone else, to avoid any conflict of interest. Any operational issues that may arise through this must be managed by the training provider.

Important: The tutor is responsible for approving the competence of their trainee. Any abuse of this responsibility resulting from any family relationship will be a fitness to practise issue for the pharmacist and we may terminate the trainee's training placement.

2.10  Deciding where and how to train

Most trainees will train in one sector for the full 52 weeks. But there is also the option to train in more than one sector. There are patient-facing sectors, such as community and hospital pharmacy, and non-patient-facing sectors such as the pharmaceutical industry and academia.

If you decide to train in more than one sector, there are two main options:

  • joint training: you train for up to 26 weeks in a non-patient-facing sector and for at least 26 weeks in a patient-facing hospital or community pharmacy
  • split training: you train in both hospital and community pharmacy

Examples of training plans can include:

  • the full 52 weeks in a single patient-facing sector
  • split training plans with, for example, six (or perhaps nine) months spent in community pharmacy and six (or perhaps three) months in hospital pharmacy
  • joint training plans with six (or perhaps nine) months spent in a patient-facing sector and six (or perhaps three) months in a non-patient-facing sector
  • integral training plans, where at least half the week is in a patient-facing sector and the rest of the time covers other aspects of pharmacy practice such as internet pharmacy services (as this would be classed as non patient-facing)

One university in Great Britain – Bradford – offers a five-year degree including two 26-week periods of training in different academic years. This is known as ‘sandwich’ training – if you are on a sandwich course, you will have made this choice when you applied to Bradford as an undergraduate.

The University of Nottingham and University of East Anglia run 5-year pharmacy courses that include pre-registration training. Although our pre-registration scheme requirements still apply to Nottingham and UEA students, any pre-registration training you do as part of either course must comply with university regulations also.

2.11  Full- and part-time training

Usually training is full time, which means working between 35 and 45 hours a week.

You must agree any arrangements to work part time with the GPhC in advance. ‘Part time’ means working at least 17.5 hours a week, over at least three days a week. This might be agreed before you start training or as the result of a change in circumstances during the year.

Things to consider when deciding if a part-time training arrangement is right for you:

  • Will you still be eligible to sit your chosen assessment? To enter the registration assessment, you will need to complete at least the equivalent of 39 weeks’ full-time training by the assessment entry date for any particular sitting.
  • Can you meet the GPhC Criteria for initial education and training? You should complete your part-time training within the time limits given, and there is no extra time allowed if you choose to train part time.
  • Will you have enough contact time with your tutor? You should make sure that the hours you usually work each week overlap with your tutor for at least 80 per cent of the time you are working.
  • Will your part-time arrangement affect any other trainees? Usually your tutor will only be allowed to supervise one trainee at a time. If changing to a part-time arrangement means your training will overlap with that of another trainee, you should discuss with us whether the arrangement meets our requirements.

Your employer must also agree that their standard training plan can be changed to fit in with this arrangement and still give you the opportunity to meet all the performance standards.

2.12  Training outside Great Britain

You may carry out up to 13 of the 52 weeks of your training in a pharmacy in another member state of the European Union. This must be one continuous placement and must be completed between weeks 13 and 26 of training. The training outcomes for those 13 weeks must form part of your training plan, and you must agree them with your tutor and the GPhC before you start your training year.

2.13  Training at another site in Great Britain

Unless you get our agreement first, you may only train outside your main training organisation in one of two ways:

  • five days in ‘unlisted’ training sites (that is, a site that is not approved for pre-registration training)
  • four weeks in a listed training site

You can only do each of these things once in a training year without specifically agreeing it in advance as part of your training plan, or as part of your application to enter training.

2.14  Attendance requirements

If you are absent for more than 40 days during your pre-registration year – for whatever reason – you must tell the GPhC as this may affect your eligibility to sit the registration assessment or to register on a particular date. The 40-day limit includes public holidays, sickness and annual leave. For part-time training arrangements, the 40 days applies to the whole training period. If you are training part-time, you must have been in training for the equivalent of 39 weeks of full-time training. For example, if your training will take 104 calendar weeks to complete, you will need to have been in training for at least 78 weeks by the assessment entry deadline.

If you are absent for more than 40 days, you will need to complete additional training to be eligible to sit the registration assessment. You must have completed at least 39 weeks of training by the application entry deadline for the sitting. 

If you are absent for more than 40 days before your 39-week progress review, you should delay the review until you have worked the additional days that have been missed to have completed the equivalent of 39 weeks training.

If the revised date of your 39 week progress review is before the assessment entry deadline for that sitting and you are assessed as satisfactory, you could still meet the eligibility criteria for that sitting. Any additional absence after you have met the entry criteria will not affect your assessment eligibility, but you should refer to section 5.6.

In all cases, to meet the criteria for registration as a pharmacist, you must complete 52 weeks pre-registration training (during which you can be absent for up to 40 days). If you are absent for more than 40 days during the 52 weeks, you should complete an extra training day for each extra day of absence. This will affect the earliest date that you can register as a pharmacist, if your revised training end date passes the 1st or the 15th of the month (the days on which you can join the register). 

You must tell us of your new finish date by submitting a change of training details form, so that we can update your records.

2.15  Starting dates

There are two fixed dates in the training year:

  • the summer registration assessment, which is usually around the last week in June in the year after you began training
  • the autumn registration assessment, which is usually around the last week in September in the year after you began training

Because you must have been signed off as satisfactory at 39 weeks to be eligible to enter the assessment, you must start your training before a set date – which is set out on the key dates page.

If you have chosen to train part time, your latest starting dates will depend on your training arrangement. Contact us for confirmation of the dates that will apply to you.

2.16  Breaks in pre-registration training

If you have had a break in your training, contact us for confirmation of your starting deadline for any particular assessment sitting.

2.17  Your tutor

You must have a designated tutor – your pre-registration tutor – who must be approved by the GPhC. The tutor has the overall responsibility for you during your training and for signing you off as satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Usually the tutor will only be responsible for one trainee at a time.

If your tutor’s previous trainee has not finished their training by the time you are due start yours, your tutor will be permitted to train two trainees for a maximum of 13 weeks – so you won’t need to wait until the previous trainee has finished before starting you placement.

Your tutor must have worked as a registered pharmacist for at least three years in the UK, in the sector of practice in which they plan to tutor you. If they are under investigation by the GPhC, they will be assessed for suitability under our pre-registration training tutor suitability policy. If you are aware of any conditions or restrictions on your tutor’s registration at any point before or during your training, contact us.

Your tutor is expected to meet with you at least once a fortnight to make sure you get regular feedback, and must carry out a formal review of your progress at 13, 26 and 39 weeks, and at the end of your training (by completing a 'final declaration', if applicable). See section 2.4 for more information about final declarations.

If your tutor cannot work full time with you (at least 28 hours over four days each week), we will consider approving more than one tutor to work with you. (This is called a ‘joint-tutoring arrangement’.) This must be approved in advance and will apply to all areas of practice.

If you are following an integrated, split or joint training programme, we expect there to be more than one GPhC approved tutor involved in your training. This could be either as part of a joint tutoring arrangement throughout the year, or as individual tutors for specified dates. It is important that this responsibility is shared in the case of joint tutors or handed over appropriately between tutors when they change over.

During the training year, you may be supervised for agreed periods by another healthcare professional, such as a pharmacist other than the designated tutor, a pharmacy technician or a nurse. These supervisors are called ‘practice supervisors’.

Your designated tutor is still responsible for you at all times, even when you are being supervised by a practice supervisor. Your designated tutor must know who is supervising you.

Our guidance on tutoring will help you understand what you can expect from your tutor. If you have any concerns about your tutor or their behaviour, contact us.

2.18 Changing tutors

Trainees may need to change tutors for a number of reasons. A tutor could leave a pharmacy, or personal or professional differences could develop between a trainee and tutor, for example.

If you change your tutor, please tell us using a change of training details form, and include your new learning contract. The new tutor must also meet GPhC requirements.

2.19  Your training site

Your training site must have been approved for the full period of your pre-registration training by the GPhC before you will be allowed to start your training. You can search the list of approved pre-registration training sites here.

If you are training at a site in Scotland, it is also covered by the quality-assurance processes of the NES Pre-registration pharmacist scheme (PRPS). Your application to train at one of these sites must be approved by NES before you submit it to the GPhC. NES will only approve your application for  that training year, so if your training was extended for any reason you would need to apply to them again.

Training requirements in more detail: 2.20 - 2.24


2.20 Resources and support

We expect training sites to have up-to-date core reference sources, including those online, for use by employees, including trainees.

We realise you may want to look for support when you are preparing for the assessment. But we do not endorse any reference sources, books or websites that claim to offer support or sample questions. Only the questions we link to in the registration assessment section of this manual are guaranteed as genuine.

2.21  Non-patient-facing sites

Training can be undertaken in non-patient-facing sites as part of a joint placement for a maximum of 26 weeks and must form part of the 52-week training plan. Read more about deciding where and how to train

Non-patient-facing training sites could include:

  • the pharmaceutical industry
  • primary care organisations or their equivalent
  • internet pharmacies
  • schools of pharmacy
  • veterinary pharmacies

The list is not limited to these sectors of practice. Before you agree your training plan for training in any other type of non-patient-facing site, you will need to apply to the GPhC.

Training can be undertaken in a variety of blocks of time across various sectors.

Sites must be suitable to support a trainee and their training.  Find out more about becoming a training site

2.22  Changing your training site

If you do change sites, ask your current tutor to fill in the relevant section of the final declaration form.

Sometimes trainees need to change their training arrangements. If you do, there are two main options:

Changing to a site within the same organisation

If circumstances at your named training site change, you may need to relocate within the organisation. As long as you are following the same training programme at the original site, you can move to another approved training site once the arrangement has been agreed by the GPhC. You must tell us about this using the change of training details form. You will need a new learning contract at your new site and you should send us this with the change of training details form.

If this also involves a change of tutor, you must also tell us about this on the change of training details form and fill in the learning contract section. This is because you and your tutor will be entering into a new learning agreement.

If you are changing training site address because the pharmacy you are training at has moved, you must make sure that the new site is approved for training.

Check with your tutor that they have submitted an Application for provision of pre-registration training form with the application to register the  pharmacy premises.

Changing to another organisation

Before choosing this option, remember:

  • you may be under contract to your employer for the full training period
  • it could be seen as unprofessional conduct to break an agreement you have made with your employer
  • if you are having problems with your employer, then sorting them out will help you to manage similar challenges in your future practice
  • changing to another site will not necessarily mean an improvement in training. Consider what you are expecting to get out of the change, and check how you can make sure this happens
  • your new site must be approved as a training site by the GPhC for the full training period
  • you need our approval for the new training arrangement before the change, so you need to send us a change of training details form for approval before you move to the new site
  • all previous progress reports must be disclosed to your new tutor. You should be open and honest with the new site about the circumstances leading to your need to move

We would not expect you to stay in a situation where you feel that your personal safety is at risk.

Your eligibility to sit the registration assessment for the first time may also be affected. We only recognise 13-week blocks of satisfactory training. So your training at a new site will ‘start again’ from the week following the date on which your last documented satisfactory progress review was due.

However, if this is the 39-week progress review, your training will go back to week 27. This is to make sure there is enough time to make a full and fair assessment of your competence. To make an application to register, you must have completed at least 26 weeks' training at the new site. But you would be able to apply for the registration assessment if you have a documented satisfactory week-39 progress review.

If you feel that a move to another organisation is your best training option, please contact us to discuss arrangements.

Changing to another organisation due to a change of ownership of your training site

You should contact us as soon as you are aware that a change of ownership is planned at your training site. Even if you stay at the same site, we would class this as a change of organisation if the ownership changes. Your eligibility to sit the registration assessment for the first time may also be affected. We only recognise 13-week blocks of satisfactory training. So your training at a new site will ‘start again’ from the week following the date on which your last documented satisfactory progress review was due.

However, if this is the 39-week progress review, your training will go back to week 27. This is to make sure there is enough time to make a full and fair assessment of your competence. To make an application to register, you must have completed at least 26 weeks' training at the new site. But you would be able to apply for the registration assessment if you have a documented satisfactory week-39 progress review.

Important: If you want to continue training at the site after the change of ownership, the new owner will need to apply to us for the site to be approved to provide pre-registration training.

2.23  Recognising and ‘banking’ blocks of training

If your training is interrupted, or if you change your training provider, you may need us to recognise blocks of training you have already completed satisfactorily. This is so that you can ‘bank’ the training and transfer it to another provider, in case you cannot pick up your training with your present one.

You will need to send us a request to bank training form to allow us to recognise the progress you have achieved.

You will also need to do this if you do not have a satisfactory final declaration at the end of your pre-registration training and you are not able to stay on with your present training provider. This applies even if you have already made a satisfactory attempt at the registration assessment.

You may only bank training:

  • that has been signed off as satisfactory by your tutor
  • in 13-week blocks that have been assessed by your tutor using the GPhC progress report form.
  • up to a limit of 26 weeks. This is to make sure that your new training provider has enough time to make a full and fair assessment of your competence to practise.

We are able to accept a satisfactory week-39 progress review from a previous training provider as meeting the assessment entry criteria. However, you should be sure that you feel ready to attempt the assessment, particularly if you have had a break in your training or if your reason for changing sites is related to your competence.

If you have not had any progress reports signed as satisfactory, but your tutor, at the site where you are moving from, considers that you do not need to start training again from day one, your tutor can reassess you to see if you meet the standard for week 13 or 26 to be marked as satisfactory.

If you do not have any satisfactory progress reports at all you will be expected to restart training from day one.

2.24  Pregnancy during training

Most of the issues connected to pregnancy will be covered by employment law, and will therefore be outside the scope of the GPhC as a regulator.

The effect pregnancy may have on your training will depend on your circumstances and where you are in your pre-registration year. But as a guide, the main issues you might like to consider are:

  • Any health issues you have during pregnancy may mean you exceed the 40 days’ permitted absence this would mean you would need an extension to your training to cover the extra days.
  • Your eligibility for a particular assessment sitting may be affected if your training needs to be cut short before the assessment entry deadline for that particular sitting.
  • Your ‘fit to sit’ status may change between the assessment entry deadline and the day of the assessment. If you apply for a particular sitting, you can decide on the day whether you feel you are ‘fit to sit’.
  • If you think you will need any ‘reasonable adjustments’ to allow you to take the assessment, you need to apply for them by the advertised deadlines. These cannot be arranged for you on the day without getting our agreement first.

Maternity leave

  • We do not dictate how much maternity leave you are allowed to take. But there are registration deadlines that you need to consider. Contact us if you think your maternity leave will affect your ability to meet these deadlines.
  • Your intended plan for returning to training following maternity leave may have changed by the time you are actually ready to return. So, although we are happy to discuss any plans you are proposing, we will only agree the training arrangement at the point when you are actually due to return.
  • When you start your maternity leave you must formally notify us within 7 days of the last date you worked. You must also let us know at least 2 weeks before the date you intend to return to training.
  • The date you return may affect your eligibility for a particular assessment. This will be especially so if you work part time when you return, or if you are not able to return to the same training arrangement.

You should consider ‘banking’ your training at the point when your training is interrupted. Then it can be recognised by us in case you cannot return to the same training organisation for any reason. Please see section 2.23.