Are you a pharmacy professional looking to jump start your career in a country in desperate need of pharmacists?

The Republic of Ireland has a shortage of young pharmacists that is threatening the entire sector. What is more, there aren’t enough places on Irish training courses to keep up with the demand in the field. As a result, more and more of the working professionals in Ireland train abroad. Even Irish candidates go abroad (usually to the UK) to get their training.

But if you want to work in Ireland, you need to become familiar with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI). What is the PSI, what does it do, and how does it impact professional training?

Keep reading to learn more.

What Is the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI)?

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland is the public body that regulates both pharmacies and pharmacy professionals. It’s an independent body that’s part of the Department of Health, but it’s governed by its own council (appointed by the Minister for Health).

It’s best known for registering and maintaining the lists of pharmacy professionals and pharmacies.

The role of the PSI is to do more than provide a list of registered professionals and pharmacy businesses. Its critical function is to ensure that the safety of patients and the public at large remain at the centre of pharmaceutical care in Ireland.

It also upholds the Pharmacy Act of 2007, which the Irish government has also amended over time. The powers granted to the PSI by the Pharmacy Act include:

  • Registering pharmaceutical assistants, pharmacists, and pharmacies
  • Creating and sharing education, training, and ethical standards
  • Raising standards when appropriate to promote sound professional practice
  • Providing advice to all key stakeholder (public, professionals, pharmacies, and the Government)
  • Providing compliance guidance and assessments and accepting complaints made against a professional or pharmacy

How Does a New Pharmacist Register with the PSI?

As with other health bodies, all pharmacy professionals and pharmacy businesses must register with the PSI to operate in Ireland. Additionally, there are three tracks to registration. The track you take depends on where you received your training.

The most straightforward path is for pharmaceutical assistants and pharmacists who trained in Ireland. If you trained in Ireland, then your National Pharmacy Internship Programme (NPIP) course qualifies you to apply for registration.

Once you complete the NPIP (including passing the Professional Registration Exam), then you can apply by providing proof of your course, ID,  and the first-time registration fee of 540 Euro. Your payment is 380 Euro for each subsequent year, and you must pay on-time (at least 30 days before you certificate expires), or you’ll pay a late fee of 90 Euro.

If You Received Training in the EU

If you are an EU national and trained as a pharmacist in an EU/EEA member state, then you have a few more steps to complete to track to registration.

First, there are two ways to register as an EU pharmacist.

The first is registering directly with the PSI by completing your application and sending your required paperwork. You must also send identification documents (birth certificate, passport/ID card, a certificate from your university, and registration certificate in your home country).

If you trained in an EU member state other than the UK, you also need to provide evidence of your language competence.

Once your application arrives, you receive an invitation to attend a meeting to review your application. It signals that your application is complete.

The second track is to register by using your European Professional Card (EPC). The EPC is available to pharmacists as well as doctors and nurses. Your EPC allows your home state to verify your information and send it on to the PSI on your behalf. Your EPC card doesn’t guarantee you the right to practise in Ireland, and you must have a PSI registration certificate before you accept employment.

As a citizen of the EU/EEA, you have the right to live and work in Ireland without a visa. Once you receive acceptance to the PSI register, you are free to seek employment as a pharmacist in Ireland.

If You Trained Outside of the EU/EEA

If you are a third-country national (any nation outside the EU/EEA) and you also trained outside the EU/EEA, then you must apply to have your pharmacist qualifications recognised in Ireland.

The first port of call is to ensure that the training you received above is of a standard that at least meets the current requirements. These include at least four years of academic training and one year of practical training. Alternatively, you qualify with 4.5 years of academic training and six months of practical.

If your program doesn’t meet these minimum requirements, then you may not apply until you complete a program that does.

The PSI evaluates your education across a four-stage process.

  1. Make a valid application (provide an application form, proof of ID, declaration, and a fee of 1,500)
  2. Passing an equivalency exam
  3. Adaptation period
  4. Professional Registration Examination (PRE)

Irish-trained pharmacists also take the PRE as part of their qualifications for registration.

If you are trying the third-country entry route, consider consulting a local consulting firm first to see if your qualifications are likely to pass the rigorous process applied. You must pay a non-refundable fee of 1,500 Euro during stage one, and you lose the application fee if the PSI doesn’t recognise your qualification.

I Trained in the UK: How Will Brexit Impact Me?

Did you train in the UK in the past or you are currently enrolled in a UK pharmacy degree? If you intend to work as a pharmacist in Ireland after Brexit, you must follow the third-country route.

The third-country route is much more difficult and expensive. So if working in Ireland is something you are interested in, then it may be helpful to apply for recognition now. Don’t wait until after the Brexit deadline.

Do note that while your qualification recognition may change, British citizens still have a right to live and work in Ireland under the Common Travel Area agreement. The Common Travel Area predates the EU. The UK government has acknowledged a commitment to upholding it regardless of what type of Brexit takes place.

If you have more questions, vis the PSI’s Brexit FAQ page.

A Guide to Professional Development with the PSI

If you intend to continue re-registering with the PSI, then you will encounter Continuing Professional Development (CPD). CPD is a lifelong learning program mandated by the Pharmacy Act 2007.

However, the PSI doesn’t directly manage CPD. It oversees a second organisation, the Irish Institute of Pharmacy (ILOP) to take care of the CPD for registered pharmacists in Ireland.

All PSI registered pharmacists must sign an annual CPD declaration. It states that you will engage in “appropriate continuing professional development relevant to the practice of pharmacy.”

In the past, you did this by following a credit or hours system that had more formal elements. However, today’s CPD is more self-directed than in the past, though it does still rely on a Core Competency Framework (CCF).

The professional learning you undertake is assessed by the PSI. You will create a portfolio that undergoes review. You will also go through practice reviews for clinical knowledge and simulated patient interviews. These identify your communication and decision-making skills.

The Types of Learning You Must FOllow

The learning involved in the CPD program falls into three categories:

  1. Informal learning
  2. Non-formal learning
  3. Formal learning

Informal learning refers to your on-the-job learning that is both intentional and non-intentional. It relates to your everyday duties and responsibilities and has no structure or plan.

Non-formal learning is organised and intentional, but it falls outside the formal classroom. There are objectives and support available.

Formal learning takes place in non-practice settings, like classrooms, seminars, or conferences. It includes a formal assessment and is structured to the point of leading to certification.

Are You Ready to Work as a Pharmacist in Ireland?

Before you can accept employment as a pharmacist, you must first register with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI). The PSI maintains the complete register of all pharmacists eligible to practise in the country, regardless of where you trained. It ensures that every pharmacist meets the government’s rigorous standards to keep patients and the public safe.

Registration is more or less complicated depending on where you trained. Before applying, consider consulting a local employer to see whether your qualifications will meet the criteria and learn what more you can do.

At MedPharm, we work with job seekers from the EU/EEA and further afield to help them register with the PSI, identify CPD, and find jobs in Ireland.

Would you like to live and work in one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe? Get in touch to learn more about what we do.