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Pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of prescriptions. They also may conduct health and wellness screenings, provide immunizations, oversee the medications given to patients, and provide advice on healthy lifestyles.Duties
Pharmacists typically do the following:
Some pharmacists who own their pharmacy or manage a chain pharmacy spend time on business activities, such as inventory management. Pharmacists also must take continuing education courses throughout their career to keep up with the latest advances in pharmacological science.
With most drugs, pharmacists use standard dosages from pharmaceutical companies. However, some pharmacists create customized medications by mixing ingredients themselves, a process known as compounding.
The following are examples of types of pharmacists:
Community pharmacists work in retail stores 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 any health concerns that the patient may have. They also may provide some primary care services such as giving flu shots.
Clinical pharmacists work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings. They spend little time dispensing prescriptions. Instead, they are involved in direct patient care. Clinical pharmacists may go on rounds in a hospital with a physician or healthcare team. They recommend medications to give to patients and oversee the dosage and timing of the delivery of those medications. They also may conduct some medical tests and offer advice to patients. For example, pharmacists working in a diabetes clinic may 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 or improving pharmacy services. They also may give advice directly to patients, such as helping seniors manage their prescriptions.
Pharmaceutical industry pharmacists work in areas such as marketing, sales, or research and development. They may design or conduct clinical drug trials and help to develop new drugs. They may also help to establish safety regulations and ensure quality control for drugs.
Some pharmacists work as college professors. They may teach pharmacy students or conduct research. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.
Pharmacists must have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from an accredited pharmacy program. They must also be licensed, which requires passing licensure and law exams.Education
Prospective pharmacists are required to have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree, a postgraduate professional degree. In July 2014, there were 130 Doctor of Pharmacy programs fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
Admissions requirements vary by program, however, all Doctor of Pharmacy programs require applicants to take postsecondary courses such as chemistry, biology, and anatomy. Most programs require at least 2 years of undergraduate study, although some require a bachelor’s degree. Most programs also require applicants to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).
Pharm.D. programs usually take 4 years to finish, although some programs offer a 3-year option. Some schools admit high school graduates into a 6-year program. A Pharm.D. program includes courses in chemistry, pharmacology, and medical ethics. Students also complete supervised work experiences, sometimes referred to as internships, in different settings such as hospitals and retail pharmacies.
Some pharmacists who own their own pharmacy may choose to get a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) in addition to their Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Others may get a degree in public health.Training
Following graduation from a Pharm.D. program, pharmacists seeking an advanced position, such as a clinical pharmacy or research job, may need to complete a 1- to 2-year residency. Pharmacists who choose to complete the 2-year residency option receive additional training in a specialty area such as internal medicine or geriatric care.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
All states license pharmacists. After they finish the Pharm.D. program, prospective pharmacists must pass two exams to get a license. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) tests pharmacy skills and knowledge. The Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) or a state-specific test on pharmacy law is also required. Applicants also must complete a number of hours as an intern, which varies by state.
Pharmacists who administer vaccinations and immunizations need to be certified in most states. States typically use the American Pharmacists Association’s Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery program as a qualification for certification.
Pharmacists also may choose to earn a certification to show their advanced level of knowledge in a certain area. For instance, a pharmacist may become a Certified Diabetes Educator, a qualification offered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators, or earn certification in a specialty area, such as nutrition or oncology, from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties. Certifications from both organizations require varying degrees of work experience, as well as passing an exam and paying a fee.Important Qualities
Analytical skills. Pharmacists must provide safe medications efficiently. To do this, they must be able to evaluate a patient’s needs and the prescriber’s orders, and have extensive knowledge of the effects and appropriate circumstances for giving out a specific medication.
Communication skills. Pharmacists frequently offer advice to patients. They might need to explain how to take a medicine, for example, and what its side effects are. They also need to offer clear direction to pharmacy technicians and interns.
Computer skills. Pharmacists need computer skills to use any electronic health record (EHR) systems that their organization has adopted.
Detail oriented. Pharmacists are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the prescriptions they fill. They must be able to find the information that they need to make decisions about what medications are appropriate for each patient, because improper use of medication can pose serious health risks.
Managerial skills. Pharmacists—particularly those who run a retail pharmacy—must have good managerial skills, including the ability to manage inventory and oversee a staff.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Pharmacist
Top Careers After Pharmacist
Hispanic or Latino9.1%
Black or African American1.4%
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Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences8.6%
University of Florida7.9%
Saint John's University - New York5.5%
Albany College of Pharmacy5.3%
University of Illinois at Chicago5.3%
Saint Louis College of Pharmacy4.5%
Nova Southeastern University4.0%
University of the Sciences4.0%
Ferris State University3.9%
Texas Southern University3.7%
University of Connecticut3.7%
University of Georgia3.6%
University of Kentucky3.6%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Pharmacist||Greene Pharma, LLC||Catskill, NY||Mar 23, 2016||$160,000|
|Pharmacist||Rite Aid Corp.||Norfolk, VA||Feb 15, 2015||$159,530|
|Pharmacist||Wal-Mart Associates, Inc.||Fort Oglethorpe, GA||Jul 03, 2016||$158,429|
|Pharmacist||Rite Aid Corp.||Yreka, CA||Oct 23, 2016||$157,443|
|Pharmacist||Kingsley Pharmacy, LLC||Houston, TX||May 26, 2015||$156,525|
|Pharmacist||Rite Aid Corp.||Yreka, CA||Oct 23, 2015||$155,878|
|Pharmacist||Rite Aid Corp.||Fresno, CA||Oct 11, 2016||$155,064|
|Pharmacist||Db Medical Supplies, Inc.||New York, NY||Oct 28, 2016||$154,336|
|Pharmacist||Rite Aid Corp.||Selma, CA||Feb 10, 2016||$154,229|
|Pharmacist||Rite Aid Corp.||Reedley, CA||Sep 22, 2016||$153,916|
|Pharmacist||Rite Aid Corp.||Clearlake, CA||Jan 10, 2016||$153,728|
|Pharmacist||Rite Aid Corp.||Tulare, CA||Dec 20, 2015||$153,624|
|Pharmacist||Rite Aid Corp.||Kerman, CA||Oct 18, 2016||$152,601|
|Pharmacist||Rite Aid Corp.||MD||Sep 19, 2016||$127,557|
|Pharmacist||Lenox Terrace Pharmacy Inc.||New York, NY||Mar 11, 2015||$127,500|
|Pharmacist||Walgreen Co.||Vail, AZ||Jul 07, 2015||$127,400|
|Supervising Pharmacist||Broadway Chemists Inc. D/B/A Ace Drugs Pharmacy||Newburgh, NY||Feb 03, 2015||$127,400|
|Pharmacist||Walgreen Co.||Tucson, AZ||Dec 13, 2015||$127,400|
|Pharmacist||Asp Management Inc.||Corpus Christi, TX||Jun 01, 2015||$127,307|
|Pharmacist||Rite Aid Corp.||Forked River, NJ||Sep 30, 2015||$127,203|
|Pharmacist||ARTH LLC||Lehigh Acres, FL||Jan 04, 2016||$111,717|
|Pharmacist||Bisht LLC||Arcadia, FL||Jun 08, 2015||$111,550|
|Pharmacist||Rotary Apothecary LLC||Stratford, CT||Sep 10, 2015||$111,500|
|Pharmacist||JAI Chamunda Inc.||Elk Rapids, MI||Jan 09, 2016||$111,425|
|Pharmacist||Nacogdoches County Hospital District||Nacogdoches, TX||Mar 18, 2016||$111,405|
|Pharmacist||Slavins-Hancock Pharmacy, Inc.||Stamford, CT||Apr 06, 2015||$111,363|
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