Pharmacists are health care professionals who dispense prescription medications to patients, translate the doctor’s orders and instructions on how to properly take these medications, and provide additional safety information. They can also provide immunizations, oversee medications and history, provide advice on health and well-being, and conduct screenings.
They are employed by hospitals, drugstores, and pharmacies. Some pharmacists own independent businesses, or they manage chain locations and perform business management activities like administration and inventory. Many deals with standard and generic drug brands provided by pharmaceutical companies, while others use pharmaceutical compounding methods to create unique, personally-tailored prescription medications for individual patients. (For additional information about this type of specialized pharmacy learn more at MEDS Pharmacy and see their example suite of services).
Typical job duties and required tasks include:
- Filling prescriptions
- Verifying physician and doctor instructions
- Checking for adverse reactions and interactions with a patient’s other medications
- Instructing on proper dosage and how to take or apply the prescribed medicine
- Reviewing potential side effects and how to mitigate them, where possible
- Suggesting alternate, better-suited brands or medications to health practitioners
- Compounding medications to create unique formulas for specific patient needs
- Managing and supervising pharmacy technicians and trainees/interns
- Providing flu shots and other vaccinations
- Answering general health and wellness queries from patients
- Suggesting recommendations on equipment or supplies
- Teaching health care practitioners about medications and treatments
- Filling out insurance paperwork and forms and collaborating with insurance companies
- Ensuring compliance with laws and regulations
- Recordkeeping and administrative duties
- Inventory and ordering
- Working with other health professionals to review patient care plans and evaluate needs
Pharmacists must take several years of schooling to earn an accredited Doctor of Pharmacy degree that includes Undergrad coursework and professional education and interning. Coursework includes topics like pharmacology, chemistry, toxicology, biology, and pharmacy administration.
Pharmacists need a wide variety of skill sets and attributes.
- Careful reading and comprehension are required to ensure no mistakes are made with prescriptions, dosages, and doctor’s notes.
- Active listening with patients is essential to understand their questions, concerns, and to ascertain their full understanding of instructions and requirements.
- Excellent communication skills with doctors, co-workers, patients, caregivers, and the general public, both verbally and written.
- Critical thinking and problem-solving skills to deal with conflicts, reviews, and revisions to care plans
- Professional and friendly customer service skills and the ability to translate technical and medical jargon to lay, people,
- Extremely detail-oriented thinking and careful practice when dealing with drugs that can endanger patients
- The stamina and capacity to work in a busy, high volume environment with frequent standing
Being a pharmacist is a rewarding job with lucrative pay, but it is hard work with many responsibilities and accountabilities. It requires a blend of medical, technical, administrative, and people skills to help patients with the best possible healthcare outcomes. It’s vital to stay up-to-date with the latest research and be committed to lifelong learning, as the field of pharmaceuticals and medicine is constantly changing when new research and innovations emerge. Learning specialties like pharmaceutical compounding and how to manage one’s own business are professional development opportunities that can lead to ongoing success.