Career Development

What Does a Pharmacist Do?

Find out what a pharmacist does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a pharmacist.

Pharmacists are the medical professionals who fill prescriptions, provide advice on how to take medications, and inform patients about their health conditions. They also advise doctors on which drugs would be most effective for treating certain ailments.

Pharmacists must complete a four-year undergraduate program in pharmacy before they can begin their training as pharmacists. This includes courses in chemistry, biology, physics, math, and other sciences.

Pharmacist Job Duties

Pharmacists have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Recommending that patients take certain medications to prevent sickness or disease
  • Conducting research on new medications and drug therapies to ensure they are safe and effective for patients
  • Prescribing medications to patients who are having difficulty with their current medications or who are dealing with a new health issue that requires medication intervention
  • Educating patients about their medications, including side effects and proper usage, and answering any questions they have about their medications
  • Dispensing medication to patients who have a valid prescription from a physician or other medical practitioner
  • Counseling patients about their medications and helping them manage any side effects or potential interactions with other medications they are taking
  • Maintaining inventory of all medications and selling them to patients at their discretion
  • Providing information about health conditions, treatment options, and medications to patients, physicians, nurses, medical assistants, and other healthcare providers
  • Training new staff members on proper procedures for handling medications and handling emergencies involving medications

Pharmacist Salary & Outlook

The salary of a pharmacist can vary depending on a number of factors, including their level of education, years of experience, and the type of work they do.

  • Median Annual Salary: $125,000 ($60.1/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $163,000 ($78.37/hour)

The employment of pharmacists is expected to decline over the next decade.

Pharmacies are increasingly using pharmacy technicians to help pharmacists with tasks, such as collecting patient information and preparing medications. As a result, pharmacists will have more time to spend with patients and provide more services, which should limit the need for new pharmacists.

Pharmacist Job Requirements

A pharmacist typically needs to have the following:

Education: Pharmacists are required to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) degree. The Pharm.D. program takes four years to complete and includes coursework in pharmacology, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacotherapy and medical ethics. The first two years of the program are spent in the classroom, and the last two years are spent in a clinical setting.

Training & Experience: Pharmacists must complete a residency program after graduating from a PharmD program. These programs typically last two years and provide the pharmacist with hands-on experience in a clinical setting.

Certifications & Licenses: To practice pharmacy in the U.S., a pharmacist must become licensed in their state. Every state has a unique process for becoming licensed, though they usually involve having graduated from an accredited pharmacy doctoral program, earning a certain number of clinical practice hours and passing the NAPLEX exam to demonstrate a pharmacist’s knowledge of a state’s particular pharmaceutical laws and regulations.

Pharmacist Skills

Pharmacists need the following skills in order to be successful:

Medical knowledge: Pharmacists need to have a strong understanding of medical terminology and processes to help patients. They need to know how to identify and treat common health conditions and diseases. They also need to know how to identify and explain medications to patients and how to help patients understand their treatment options.

Communication skills: Pharmacists must be able to communicate effectively with patients, other pharmacists and other medical professionals. They must be able to explain complex medical information in a way that patients can understand. They also must be able to communicate with other medical professionals to ensure that patients are receiving the correct medications and that they are aware of any potential side effects or interactions between medications.

Empathy: Pharmacists often use empathy to help patients understand their health conditions and treatment options. They may also use empathy to comfort patients who are nervous about their treatment or diagnosis. Empathy can also help them build trusting relationships with patients, which can help them provide patients with the best care possible.

Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to analyze a situation and make a decision based on the available information. Pharmacists use critical thinking skills to make treatment recommendations for patients. They may also use critical thinking to identify potential drug interactions and other potential health risks.

Technological skills: Pharmacists need to be comfortable with technology and have the ability to learn new software and computer programs. They need to be able to use computers to access patient records, order and track inventory and complete other tasks. Pharmacists also need to be able to use cash registers and other point-of-sale technology.

Pharmacist Work Environment

Pharmacists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, community pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies. They typically work 40 hours a week, although some pharmacists may work 50 or more hours a week. Many pharmacists work rotating shifts, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Some pharmacists may be on call, which means they are available to work at any time. The work of a pharmacist can be stressful, and pharmacists must be able to handle the pressure. They must be able to make quick decisions and be detail oriented. They must also be able to work well under pressure and handle the stress of dealing with sick people.

Pharmacist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how pharmacists work. Pharmacists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Use of Technology in Healthcare

The use of technology in healthcare is becoming increasingly common, as hospitals and pharmacies look for ways to improve patient care. Pharmacists can take advantage of this trend by becoming familiar with the latest technologies and how they can be used to improve patient care.

Pharmacists can also utilize technology to connect with patients and provide them with more personalized care. This can include using social media platforms to communicate with patients or developing online tools that help patients manage their medications.

The Emergence of Specialty Pharmacies

The emergence of specialty pharmacies is a trend that is quickly gaining popularity among patients. These pharmacies specialize in providing specific types of medication, such as diabetes supplies or birth control pills, and often offer additional services, such as counseling or blood-work monitoring.

As specialty pharmacies become more popular, pharmacists will need to develop expertise in these areas in order to provide the best possible care to their patients. They will also need to be able to work effectively with other health professionals, such as nurses and doctors, to ensure that patients are getting the care they need.

Pharmacist as Patient Advocate

Pharmacists are increasingly being called upon to act as patient advocates, especially in the realm of drug pricing. As pharmaceutical companies continue to raise prices on their products, pharmacists will need to be prepared to explain the reasons behind these increases to their customers.

In addition, pharmacists can play an important role in helping patients find affordable alternatives to expensive drugs. By working with insurance providers and other healthcare professionals, pharmacists can help patients find the best possible treatment options within their budget.

How to Become a Pharmacist

Pharmacists can have a rewarding career in many different settings. They can work in community pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, the pharmaceutical industry, or academia. No matter where they work, pharmacists must complete a rigorous training program and be licensed to practice pharmacy.

Related: How to Write a Pharmacist Resume

Advancement Prospects

There are many ways to advance in the field of pharmacy. Some pharmacists may move into management positions, such as pharmacy supervisor, pharmacy manager, or director of pharmacy services. Others may choose to open their own pharmacies. Some pharmacists may move into the pharmaceutical industry, working as sales representatives, marketing specialists, or research scientists. Some may become consultants, working with hospitals, nursing homes, or other health care facilities. Some pharmacists may choose to teach at a college of pharmacy.

The most common way to advance in pharmacy is to move into a position that offers more responsibility and/or a higher salary. For example, a staff pharmacist may be promoted to pharmacy supervisor, and a pharmacy supervisor may be promoted to pharmacy manager.

Pharmacist Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we are committed to providing our patients with the highest quality of care possible. We are looking for a pharmacist to join our team who shares this commitment and who is passionate about making a difference in the lives of our patients. The ideal candidate will have a strong knowledge of medications, their effects, and how to dispense them safely and effectively. He or she will be able to work independently and make sound decisions in a fast-paced environment. The pharmacist will also be responsible for maintaining inventory, ordering medications, and keeping up to date on the latest changes in pharmacy laws and regulations.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Dispense medications by compounding, packaging, and labeling pharmaceuticals, according to prescription orders
  • Review prescriptions issued by medical practitioners and other health professionals to ensure accuracy and determine formulas
  • Advise patients on the selection of medication brands, dosages, side effects, and proper storage
  • Collaborate with physicians and other health care professionals to plan, implement, monitor, and evaluate patient drug therapies
  • Monitor patients’ therapeutic regimens to ensure that they are taking their medications correctly and achieving desired outcomes
  • Educate patients about drug therapies, including proper administration, dosage, and storage
  • Keep abreast of new drugs and developments in pharmacy practice through continuing education and professional journals
  • Participate in the development and implementation of hospital and clinic policies and procedures related to the dispensing of medications
  • Supervise the work of pharmacy technicians and support staff
  • Maintain inventory of drugs and supplies, ordering stock as needed
  • Prepare cost-benefit analyses of new drugs and drug therapy regimens
  • Compound and dispense prescribed medications and other pharmaceuticals for patient use

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy or related field
  • Pharmacy license in good standing
  • 4 years of experience working as a pharmacist
  • Strong clinical knowledge and understanding of medications
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Ability to work well under pressure and multitask

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in pharmacy or related field
  • 6 years of experience working as a pharmacist
  • Teaching experience
  • Research experience
  • Leadership experience

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