Pharmacists design and manufacture medications and other chemical compounds for medical use. They play an important role in patient care, through personalized counselling . They may be employed in a wide variety of settings, from clinics and hospitals to pharmacy chains and pharmaceutical companies. Pharmacists can be self-employed when opening their own pharmacies or practices, in which case, they will not only act as medical prescription advisors and health consultants, but also as Managers and Supervisors of their own inventory and stock.
The Pharmaceutical field is an ever-growing and evolving one. Not only do Pharmacists need to undergo a very strict university training, but they also need to stay-up-to-date with the latest developments in order to fully learn how drugs and their components interact and react in the human body.
In addition to monitoring patients’ prescriptions and giving them advice on the quality and safe use of some drugs, Pharmacists can also give information on more general healthcare matters. In some cases, experienced Pharmacists can even customize medications and mix certain ingredients to create new compounds.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Pharmacists are required to complete.
- Providing customers and patients with medicines and other pharmaceutical products, according to the Physician’s prescription:
- Manufacturing and distributing medicines, vaccines, and other pharmaceutical compounds and products; ensuring that customers or hospital patients get the right medicines and treatments in the right doses, always following the doctors’ prescriptions;
- providing indications regarding reactions, side effects, drug interactions, and dosage; and
- implementing proper pricing.
- Running regular health checks on patients and customers including pregnancy tests, cholesterol-level checks, and blood pressure tests.
- Keeping records of customers including purchases, medicines, and other drugs taken.
- Overseeing, managing, and submitting insurance forms and applications as a way for patients to afford medicines and prescriptions more easily.
- Advising customers on over-the-counter medicines, especially on how these may interact with other prescribed and non-prescribed drugs.
- Providing the right medicine when selling products without medical prescription or in case of an emergency.
- Writing and distributing literature on the components, effects, and proper use of medications.
- Maintaining inventory, discarding any expired products, and replacing missing ones.
- Overseeing and monitoring the work of staff members and co-workers:
- Instructing the staff about patients’ particular treatments.
- Vaccinating patients.
- Adhering to laws and regulations regarding the use and fabrication of medicines, drugs, and other pharmaceutical products.
- Keeping up with changing and evolving regulations regarding the sale, distribution, and fabrication of medicines, drugs, and other pharmaceutical products.
- Following prescriptions and Physician’s instructions when distributing medications.
- Asking patients about other drugs they might be taking or existing medical conditions in order to ensure that no negative effects occur.
- Providing detailed instructions to patients on the use of medicines and drugs, as well as warning them about possible side effects.
- Providing advice and recommendations to patients about the use of over-the-counter medicines and drugs.
- Administering vaccinations and other drugs in the form of injections, when state or regulations allow it.
- Supervising the work and activities of all Pharmacy staff.
- Maintaining an inventory of existing and sold out medicines and instruments.
- Keeping a log of daily activities.
The average Pharmacist salary in USA is $64,225 per year or $33 per hour. This is around 2.2 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $45,000 while most experienced workers make up to $90,000. These results are based on 793 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding sales and managerial abilities.
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with customers, patients, and coworkers;
- displaying strong customer service skills, setting high standards of patient and customer care;
- being able to work individually and as part of a team; and
- being a great team leader.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner using critical thinking and good judgment; and
- being able to analyze and assess customers’ needs.
- Organizational skills and great attention to detail:
- Being able to prioritize tasks and responsibilities; and
- providing medications safely and appropriately.
- Trustworthy enough to manage sensitive/confidential information.
Aside from the skills listed above, Pharmacists must be able to create a dialogue with customers or patients in order to provide excellent customer and patient service and to maximize their loyalty. These professionals are required to have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree and at least 2 years of experience in the area.
In addition to the aforementioned requirements, aspirants must be licensed to legally perform their job. To do so, they need to pass two tests: The North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and a state-specific, pharmacy law exam. Moreover, depending on some state jurisdictions, a criminal background check may also be necessary.
When aiming to becoming a specialized Pharmacist, candidates have to meet certain requirements and get a certification. For instance, Medical Pharmacists need to obtain a Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) certification, or get certified in a specific area (e.g. diabetes, oncology, nutrition, etc.), which are usually granted by field-related organizations.
Keeping up with the latest discoveries and advances in Pharmacology is strictly necessary for all professionals, therefore it is necessary for them to continue their studies even after they have graduated and been certified. The completion of a hospital pharmacy residency or equivalent experience is always an asset. Pharmacists with a master’s or doctoral degree in any area of their field may apply for higher tiered jobs.
Pharmacists often become Pharmacy owners and, therefore, are required to carry out certain administrative tasks. These professionals often get an additional degree in Business Administration or otherwise hire a specialist for this purpose.
Working hours for Pharmacists are often irregular as most pharmacies remain open late at night, on weekends, and during holidays, some of them are even open on a 24/7 basis. In most cases, Pharmacists take turns or shifts to cover the different hours of service.