Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (CPT) involves improving the care of patients through the safe and effective use of medicines. Clinical pharmacologists work in hospitals, academic institutions, national and government agencies.
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Entry Route into Clinical Pharmacology
Applicants need to have completed the two-year foundation programme before they are eligible to apply for the ST1 training pathway. There are three main options for ST1 training:
Trainees should have gained full membership of the Royal College of Physicians if they have completed an CMT or ACCS training programme.
Job Progression as a Clinical Pharmacologist
There are four training pathways in clinical pharmacology at ST3 level, each lasting for four years:
- The core Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (CPT), and General Internal Medicine pathway,
- The core CPT and another speciality training pathway,
- The academic pathway, featuring core CPT, GIM, and an academic clinical fellowship, or
- The primary care pathway – combined with General Practice training.
After completion of higher speciality training (ST3-6), trainees can obtain a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) six months before completion of training, and may also be included on the specialist register for clinical pharmacology.
The main career options for specialists in CPT include lecturing, or a professional or reading post within a medical school. About two thirds of consultants work in academic posts within a medical school and hold an honorary NHS consultant contract, and most also have a subspeciality interest. There is a strong emphasis on research, and consultants are also involved in planning and delivering undergraduate teaching.
There are few consultant jobs in the NHS that are purely CPT, with many consultants working in multidisciplinary departments, such as poison units. Many consultants therefore combine their role in CPT with another speciality such as General Internal Medicine, or Cardiology. They may be involved with drug, research ethics, or formulary committees. There is no private practice but CPT specialists can work as advisers to pharmaceutical companies. There are also opportunities to work the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Academic Clinical Pharmacology Roles
Trainees who want to pursue an academic career should apply for an academic clinical fellowship (CF) that includes training in CPT. Trainees can apply for funding for a research fellowship which leads to a PhD and they can then apply for an academic clinical lecturer role.
Competition for Clinical Pharmacology Posts
In 2017, the competition ratio at ST3 was 0.6, with 9 applications for 15 NTN posts, with 22% of applicants applying for AIM only.
In December 2017, there were
- 15 consultants,
- 1 speciality doctor,
- 1 staff grade,
- 25 speciality registrars,
- 6 core trainees,
- 2 F2 trainees, and
- 5 F1 trainees.
Salaries in Clinical Pharmacology
The starting salary for junior doctors in England ranges from £26,614 to £46,208, and from £37,923 to £87,521 for speciality doctors. Consultants can expect to earn between £76,761 and £103,490. There are additional supplements for on-call work, antisocial hours, and other commitments and situations. For additional information, please check our page on pay scales.
A Day in the Life of a Clinical Pharmacologist
Clinical pharmacologists work in hospitals, academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and national and government agencies such as the MHRA. They advise patients and other specialists on how different drugs interact and the effects these interactions might have. Pharmacologists also manage patients with complex diseases requiring multiple drug therapy, who may have an increased chance of experiencing adverse drug reactions.
CPT specialists also work in the community. They may run outpatient clinics for people with hypertension or work in specialist poison centres where they can advise other healthcare professionals, such as EM departments.