Pharmacy is a health profession in which licensed professionals provide information about medications to patients and healthcare professionals. As “medication experts,” pharmacists are concerned with safeguarding the public’s health in matters relating to medication distribution and use and disease state management.
What is a pharmacist and what does a pharmacist do?
Pharmacists prepare and dispense prescriptions, ensure medicines and doses are correct, prevent harmful drug interactions, and counsel patients on the safe and appropriate use of their medications. They also advise physicians and other healthcare workers on the selection, dosage, interactions, and side effects of medications to treat health problems. Additionally, pharmacists may provide advice on how to lead a healthy lifestyle, conduct health and wellness screenings, and provide immunizations.
Pharmacists play a very important role in maintaining the health and wellness of the public. Some individuals may have chronic conditions and require taking medications daily. Others may have a one-time need for medication if they become sick with a cold or are recovering post-surgery. In either case, the pharmacist has the responsibility of making sure medicines are taken correctly and that the patient understands what they are taking. Other duties a pharmacist may do include (but not limited to):
- Fill prescriptions to the proper amount based on physicians’ instructions.
- Check patients’ allergies, medical conditions, and other drugs they are taking to ensure that the newly prescribed medication does not cause adverse reaction.
- Instruct patients on proper use, side effects, and storage of prescribed medicine.
- Administer vaccinations, such as flu shots.
- Advise patients about general health topics, such as exercise and managing stress, and on other issues, such as what equipment or supplies would be best to treat a health problem.
- Work with insurance companies to resolve billing issues.
- Supervise the work of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists in training (interns).
What types of pharmacist jobs can I choose from?
- Community pharmacists work in retail settings such as chain drug stores or independently owned pharmacies. They dispense medications to patients and answer any questions that patients may have about prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, or health concerns. They also may provide some primary care services such as giving flu shots and performing health screenings.
- Clinical pharmacists work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings where they provide direct patient care. They may go on rounds in a hospital with a physician or healthcare team. Additionally, they recommend medications to patients and oversee the dosage and timing of the delivery of those medications. They also evaluate the effectiveness of drugs and a patient’s progress. Clinical pharmacists may conduct certain medical tests and offer advice to patients. For example, pharmacists may earn credentials to work in a diabetes clinic, where they counsel patients on how and when to take medications, suggest healthy food choices, and monitor patients’ blood sugar.
- Consultant pharmacists advise healthcare facilities or insurance providers on patient medication use. They may give advice directly to patients, such as helping seniors manage their prescriptions. Consultant pharmacists also advise facilities on improving services to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.
- Pharmaceutical industry pharmacists work in areas such as marketing, sales, or research and development. Their work includes designing or conducting clinical trials of new drugs. They may also help to establish safety regulations and ensure quality control for drugs.
What types of pharmacy occupations are there?
If you are not sure that working as a pharmacist is right for you, another option to start with is a pharmacy technician. They help pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals. The job requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Working as a pharmacy technician may help you decide if a career in pharmacy is a good fit.
Where do pharmacists work?
Many pharmacists work in pharmacies and drug store settings. You can also find them working in state, local, and private hospitals, food and beverage stores like grocery stores, and outpatient care centers. Most pharmacists work full time, and some work nights, weekends, and holidays, especially if working in a setting that is open 24 hours a day (e.g., hospitals).
Explore the exciting profession of pharmacy more by checking out the resources. You may also want to gain hands-on experience by participating in a pharmacy pathway program. Find pathway programs by clicking below.
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