Personal statement advice: pharmacy

If you aim to study pharmacy, your personal statement will be a crucial factor in your application to make you stand out in this competitive field. Check out our top tips for your pharmacy personal statement.
Pharmacy applicants will be up against tough competition, according to the University of Manchester: 'Competition for places on the MPharm course is fierce, and only the best students are invited for interview.' It's a message echoed by Cardiff University: 'Application to the degree is highly competitive, with approaching 1,000 applications for 120 places.'

Research pharmacy as a subject

Standing out from the crowd when it comes to your pharmacy personal statement means doing your research and really demonstrating your suitability, commitment, and enthusiasm in a convincing way.

It’s a professional course you’re applying for here, and it’s essential that you’ve gained an insight into the profession itself, ideally through a combination of background reading and, if possible, some personal experience too – even if it was just talking to a pharmacist, or learning about it through visits to university open days or relevant events.

Use your statement to reflect on:

  • your perceptions of what the profession is about, and where you can see yourself within it
  • the skills and qualities that will be required, both to study pharmacy and to practice it as a profession
  • evidence of situations or activities where you’ve displayed some of these skills and qualities yourself

If you can express all this in what the University of Manchester calls 'a creative statement that demonstrates enthusiasm and commitment for the subject,' then, provided you’ve got what it takes academically, you should be in with a good chance of success.

What unis are looking for in pharmacy students

Interpersonal skills: 'Being a good pharmacist involves more than academic excellence. You need to be good at interacting and communicating well with people from diverse backgrounds. Anything that demonstrates this ability looks good in your personal statement,' according to Dr Karen Ball, principal lecturer and admissions tutor at the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at University of Portsmouth.

Understanding of the profession: tutors at University of Bath expect you to demonstrate:

  • your enthusiasm and interest in pharmacy
  • evidence of your understanding of the role of a pharmacist

This doesn’t mean telling them what a pharmacist does, but reflecting on what you’ve found out for yourself through your research and any relevant visits, volunteering, or work experience. What did you learn and how might you apply this knowledge to your future study?

Awareness of the skills you'll need: on its website, Aston University offers some examples of how the emphasis of a pharmacist's role has changed, and mentions some of the key skills for which you might want to show evidence in your statement. That's the kind of information you'll be expected to know.

Your wider reading: University of Reading reinforces that the best way to stand out from the crowd is through the way you explain what interests you about pharmacy, your comments on the relevant reading and research you’ve done, and/or the experience you’ve had.

Commitment to the profession: Cardiff University’s selectors are looking for evidence of this and will assess your suitability by the way you demonstrate and evidence your 'knowledge of the science and practice of pharmacy' through your 'background reading or work experience.'

Clear language: this is a field where clarity and accuracy are essential, so reflect this in the way you approach your personal statement. It needs to be logical and easy to understand. Don’t try to stand out by being too flash or overcomplicated.

Relevant work experience: admissions tutors at Keele University are keen to hear about any relevant experience, what you feel you’ve gained from it, and how it has helped you to understand more about what your future career in pharmacy might involve. See our guide to making your work experience count for tips on how to do this.

Relevant skills: reflect on any relevant skills you’ve gained in academic, social, or work settings, whether it’s teamwork, communication, leadership, caring for others, or how you balance work with relaxation. But don’t exaggerate this. Be mindful that tutors will also read your reference to see if it fits with what you’ve said about yourself in the statement.

Medicine/dentistry applicants: is it ok to put pharmacy down as a fifth choice?

Not without great care! Several universities make it very clear on their websites that they will not consider you if pharmacy is a second option. They expect you, and your statement, to be 100% committed to pharmacy. But if this is a strategy you are considering, do your research with individual universities. There may be certain circumstances where this is possible.