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Principles Of Professional Practice Of Nurses And Pharmacists

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Principles of the Care Professions

Nurses work in a multi- disciplinary team, working in different settings and “care for patients suffering from a variety of health conditions, ranging from minor injuries and ailments to acute and long-term illnesses and diseases.” (AGCAS Editors, 2019) Comparing this to what a pharmacist entails, they also work as part of a multi-disciplinary team, giving individuals guidance and information on anything they are concerned about and receive prescribed drugs by the doctors. The pharmacy technicians dispense these which are then checked by the pharmacist (or vice versa) before given to the individual of the general public. In the nursing profession, an aim is to gain the patients trust and to care for them, similarly to a pharmacist as the individual needs to trust they are telling them the right information and giving them the correct medication while both keeping all information confidential. Some of the nurse’s responsibilities are to make care plans and carry out observations, give injections and dress wounds. In contrast to these responsibilities, pharmacists are constantly keeping up to speed with the development of new drugs and how safe they are and need to have good knowledge on the current legislations and codes of practice they are required to follow, nurses sharing this same responsibility.

Professional Education and Registration

To become an Adult nurse at Queen Margaret University, you study for four years and the standard SQA higher requirements is BBBB, including a literary subject, a science and N5 maths at a B. (QMU, 2020) In contrast with a pharmacist, at Robert Gordon University you study MPharm for also four years with the requirements of AABB, including chemistry, two other sciences at a B and English or another written based subject at a C. (RGU, no date) Once the individual has completed their degree, they must both register with their governing body to be able to work. To become a nurse, you must register with the Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC) and to register as a pharmacist, register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC.) Both of these govern body’s both set the standards for the profession and regulate the bodies within it. Before a nurse can register, they must complete a nursing programme of education that is checked and accepted by the NMC and in contrast to this, a pharmacist must have successfully completed one year of pre-registration training while collecting evidence. The process on becoming registered for a pharmacist is to go through occupational health checks and join the PVG scheme, while similarly a nurse goes through health and character checks. Both professions have to complete a range of individual assessments to meet the registers standards.

Code of conduct

Code of conducts are standards that are set by the governing body for the individual within that profession to follow. The NMC and GPhC set the behaviour that is expected from the people that are registered with them and states what that body’s principles and values are. One of the NMC’s codes are to “prioritise people”, (NMC,2018) this is very similar to one for pharmacists which is “make the care of patients your first concern.” (RPS, no date) Both professions have a duty of care to always look after the patient in the best way possible, making them your priority and where necessary, raising a concern or referring the patient to the GP or another health practitioner. Another code for pharmacists is to “be honest and trustworthy”, (RPS, no date) again being similar to the nurse’s code of “promote professionalism and trust.” (NMC,2018) Both nurses and pharmacists need to have a trustworthy manner to their patients at all time while always being professional and being honest in and at work. These professionals should know the limit of their own abilities and ask for assistance if need be. As you can see here, a lot of the codes for nurses and pharmacists resemble each other and link together, highlighting the importance of care and dignity that these professions both have to have. If an individual fails to follow these codes it can lead to serious consequences, including taking responsibility for their own actions and being removed from the register, showing just how significant these codes are.


Revalidation is the process of providing CPD (continuing professional development) records to remain on the register which keeps your knowledge and aims up to date and assesses the quality of your patient care. A nurse has to do this every three years, while a pharmacist has to do it annually. Both nursing and pharmacy records towards their CPD are based on learning activities that show development over the three years or year for pharmacists. A nurse can provide up to 35 hours of CPD with a minimum of 20 hours being participatory learning (involved and communicating with others, evidence of a communication with at least one other professional. For example, taking part in a workshop) and the rest could be non-participatory (individual) learning. In contrast with the pharmacist CPD requirements, they too can provide two types of learning that are similar- planned learning (individual expands their knowledge prior to an activity, for example, a day training) and unplanned learning (an event taking place that didn’t have any learning developed before occurring.) Only four CPD records can be submitted for pharmacists, there can be at least two that are ‘planned’ and only two can be ‘unplanned.’ Alongside this they need to submit a reflective account record and a discussion record. Both nursing and pharmacist records have to provide evidence of these activities taking place, how it helped widen their knowledge/skills and has to be pertinent to their practise.

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Clinical Governance

“Clinical governance is the system through which NHS organisations are accountable for continuously improving the quality of their services and safeguarding high standards of care, by creating an environment in which clinical excellence will flourish.” (Department of Health, 2010) Nurses and Pharmacists both apply to this. Clinical governance is an “umbrella term” (RCN, 2020) meaning there is multiple tasks these professionals do that support them on enhancing the quality of services and care they are delivering to improve patient care, for example, their CPD. Clinical supervision is involved in clinical governance, this can be carried out by someone in the same profession. Clinical supervision gives professionals like these nurses and pharmacists the opportunity to reflect on their performance and improve their skills and quality of care.

There are five key themes under clinical governance: “Patient focus, information focus, quality improvement, staff focus and leadership.” (RCN, 2019) These themes provide an outline of what improves patient care. If the care from a nurse or pharmacist is patient focussed, it is looking at the needs of the patient and providing the best care that suits them as an individual. This is not only benefiting the person receiving your service, but also the service given is benefitted from their quality of care too.

Issues may arise in the nurses and pharmacist’s workplace regarding clinical governance. One could be that there are poor communication skills between the pharmacists and other members of team in the pharmacy and similarly, between the nurses and the multi-disciplinary team. This could affect patient care as both professions have to work in a team to deliver the best quality care possible. If there is a lack of effort or miscommunication from others, then it won’t work or be as effective.

Ethical Issues and Professional Boundaries

Ethics are moral principles that affect your decisions and behaviour. When nurses and pharmacists are faced with situations that they are unsure on what the ‘right’ thing to do is, they will need to use their professional judgement and be able to justify it. These ethical decisions are made by having the knowledge of what is best care possible for the patient. However, occasionally “these involve weighing the patient’s interests and negative consequences which can occur if the law is broken when fulfilling this.” (RPS, 2012) This statement is similar for nurses and pharmacists as they both deal with this challenge. The three main ethical issues in nursing are: “do no harm/do good, trustworthiness/truth – telling and honesty/justice and fairness, respect for personhood/ respect for individual autonomy.” (Siviter, 2013, p.112) Comparing this to pharmacists, these will be ethical issues they face too.


Throughout this report I have compared and contrasted between both nurses and pharmacists, whilst showing some similarities they share. I have looked at their individual education requirements at universities and what training is required to then register with the NMC and GPhC. The importance of following the Code of Conduct and the revalidation process through CPD records have been highlighted thoroughly and a lot of similarities were shown here, like some of the Code’s. The ethical issues I have discussed, both nurses and pharmacists have to deal with, and the clinical governance ‘umbrella’ term is significant to all healthcare. Although pharmacists and nurses both share some of the same aims/responsibilities, do have a great amount of differences too, but are both just as important to our health care system.


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  19. Target Jobs. (2020) Retail Pharmacist: Job Description @ (date last accessed: 18/11/2020)

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Principles Of Professional Practice Of Nurses And Pharmacists. (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 26, 2022, from
“Principles Of Professional Practice Of Nurses And Pharmacists.” Edubirdie, 21 Feb. 2022,
Principles Of Professional Practice Of Nurses And Pharmacists. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Sept. 2022].
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