This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Learn more about cookies and how to manage them.

Medical careers in pharmacology

What is clinical pharmacology?

Clinical pharmacology is defined as a translational discipline in terms of the basic tools of human pharmacology (e.g. receptor pharmacology) and applied pharmacology (e.g. pharmacokinetics) and how they are used in drug discovery and development and in solving practical therapeutic problems in individuals and populations.

What is a clinical pharmacologist?

A clinical pharmacologist is a physician with training in CPT (clinical pharmacology & therapeutics). A clinical pharmacologist’s core mission is to improve the care of patients through safe and effective use of medicines. As clinicians they are generalists in their approach to diagnosis and general management, but specialists in relation to the intricacies of prescribing, and the recognition and management of iatrogenic disease.

A clinical pharmacologist is likely to have a very varied job – many divide their time between:

Some clinical pharmacologists work in the pharmaceutical industry developing new drugs and working on early clinical trials in patients.

More details, including a typical work programme of a clinical pharmacologist, is available via the Royal College of Physicians.

How do I become a clinical pharmacologist?

Physicians who have completed Foundation Programme and Core Medical Training can apply for entry into CPT training at ST3 (higher specialty training, which is known as ST3) level.

CPT training can be combined with:

  • Training in another clinical speciality, usually general medicine .

  • An Academic Clinical Fellowship – this is particularly valuable to those who are already confident that an academic career is best for them.

In the final year of CPT training you can take an advanced specialist area module in hypertension, toxicology, clinical trials research or research.

The NHS Careers website gives more information about applying for Specialty Training.

What does the training cover?

The key parts of the curriculum are how to:

  • Undertake and interpret clinical investigations.
  • Optimise therapeutic use of drugs.
  • Detect and analyse adverse drug reactions.
  • Contribute to medicines evaluation.
  • And, manage poisonings.

The full curriculum is available via the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board website. You can find out a bit more about training for Specialty Trainees on our Speciality registrar training page.