Pharmacist initial education and training reforms: FAQs

Our standards set out the knowledge, skills, understanding and professional behaviours that students and trainee pharmacists must demonstrate to pass their initial education and training and join our register.

We have published new standards for education and training courses for pharmacists to make sure you’re equipped for future roles and can practise safely and effectively.

These standards will support newly registered pharmacists to play a much greater role in providing clinical care to patients, including prescribing medicines. The standards also set out the requirements for education providers running initial training programmes.


New standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists

These standards will transform the education and training of pharmacists, so they can play a much greater role in providing clinical care to patients and the public from their first day on the register.

We have developed these standards to make sure pharmacist professionals are confident and capable of working in different teams across a variety of healthcare settings. We want them to be adaptable so they can meet the diverse and changing needs of patients.


MPharm degree

In 2021/22 we started reaccrediting MPharm degrees to the new standards. This will take place over a period of three academic years to give higher-education institutions a degree of flexibility. Universities have been given staggered dates to revise their education and training programmes between the 2021/22 and 2023/24 academic years.

Higher education institutions have been asked to transfer all new students who started on an MPharm degree in 2021-22 or later to the new standards. This means that all students graduating from an accredited four-year MPharm degree in summer 2025 will have achieved the new four-year learning outcomes and be ready to enter the fully implemented foundation training year in 2025/26.


Foundation training year

This is when a trainee pharmacist undertakes practical learning and training activities under supervision for 52 weeks. This is known as the foundation training year across all UK countries and recognised by all employers. It was previously known as the pre-registration training year.

The foundation training year offers on the job, practical training in a clinical setting. It supports trainees to build on their pharmacy knowledge, understanding, skills and behaviours, and previous experience, in preparation for registration.

The foundation training year involves NHS education commissioners, employers and higher-education institutions working together, with a clear set of accountabilities. This includes systems of quality management and quality control – with oversight from us and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland. This means that trainees will receive enhanced support and supervision throughout the foundation training year.

Trainees complete at least 90 hours of supervised practice in prescribing during their foundation year, to strengthen their competence and allow them to achieve their independent prescriber annotation once they’re registered.