Careers 101: Pharmacy and Naturopathy in the UK
Written by: Farah Ahmed
I originally studied to become a pharmacist at university and after graduating, going on to work in this field for 10 years. My roles varied; I started out in a clinical (hospital) setting and then went on to work for larger companies in the retail sector, working my way up to take on more managerial and business management positions. I then went on to work in the aesthetics industry which involved an understanding of a whole new arena of pharmaceuticals.
Seeing and meeting people with all manner of acute and chronic illnesses (as well as going through some personal health struggles of my own) made me begin to view healthcare through a different lens. I decided that although conventional medicine absolutely had its place, a more integrated approach to healthcare would be more efficient and effective in helping people achieve their optimal health and potential.
As a result, I went on to retrain as a Nutritional Therapist and naturopath at the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM) in London.
Nutritional therapy and naturopathy are both recognized as complementary medicine. They emphasize a more holistic approach to patient treatment and aim to provide comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of both chronic and acute issues, taking in to account the mind, body, and soul as factors all contributing to overall health. Practitioners consider each individual to be unique and recommend personalized nutrition and lifestyle programs rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The main aim is to find the root cause for existing health problems and help clients find their way back to optimum health and vitality.
Pharmacy: This is a 4-year Masters degree course in the UK. On graduation, there is a compulsory 1 year pre-registration period before becoming fully qualified.
Naturopathy: A 3-year diploma from the College of Naturopathic Medicine, London (CNM) with biochemistry as the first year (I didn’t complete the first year as I has already fulfilled this in my Masters program). Completion of this course allows registration with the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) which the governing body for therapists.
The role of a pharmacist in the UK is constantly changing, with great opportunities for diversification. There is also the opportunity for further study, such as undertaking a clinical diploma if a higher position in hospital pharmacy is desired or for those wanting to take on senior roles in community surgeries, they can complete the Pharmacist Independent Prescribing course which can open a number of doors in this area.
The UK Pharmacy degree is valid in Europe and abroad in Gulf countries. Working in the USA, Canada and Australia requires additional examinations.
Naturopaths often go on to work either privately or in holistic wellness centers. Both set-ups involve seeing clients on a one-to one basis. There is also the option of working with nutraceutical companies, diagnostic labs and many are regular contributors to wellness magazine.
One can add additional modalities to this field such as herbal medicine, homeopathy, or acupuncture by studying further to become a well-rounded holistic therapist.
Depending on where you study, your qualification may be valid internationally. Those graduating from CNM can practice in a number of countries abroad including the USA, Hong Kong, South Africa and more.
I currently work in Qatar as a freelance therapist, and for a local wellness company on a part time basis.