What Do Pharmacists Do?
Pharmacists are responsible for dispensing drugs as prescribed by doctors and other healthcare professionals. They discuss medications with patients and help them understand the benefits, warnings and proper use. Pharmacists may also inform medical professionals of matters concerning dosage, interactions and side effects of specific drugs.
Pharmacists Skills and Abilities
In becoming a pharmacist, you will blend caring personal service with wide knowledge of the information and procedures required to diagnose and treat a patient’s illnesses, injuries and deformities. You will need to be familiar with mathematics, including algebra, calculus and statistics, and have a firm grounding in chemistry, including an understanding of chemical composition, processes, interactions and danger signs. Knowledge of the English language will also be required, including the meaning and proper spelling of words.A number of skills and abilities are involved to be successful as a pharmacist. These include paying close attention to what people say, critical thinking, instructing or showing people how to do something, communicating effectively by writing as well as speaking and determining how best to help people.
In general, your daily activities as a pharmacist will require processing information from a variety of sources, using your computer to enter data, staying current with technical information and applying new information to your job, when relevant, and recording and storing information in written and electronic form.Among your top responsibilities will be to ensure accuracy in the filling of prescriptions and furnishing information to customers as to the dosage, side effects, interactions and proper storage of their medications. You will also be required to maintain a variety of records, including patient profiles, pharmaceutical information and narcotics, poisons and controlled drugs registries.Other specific work activities include:
- Properly mixing, packaging or labeling drugs in accordance with legal requirements
- Assessing strength and purity of medications
- Ordering medical and pharmaceutical supplies and maintaining stock
- Reviewing trends in prescriptions in order to prevent excessive use or dangerous interaction
- Advising customers about medical equipment and healthcare supplies
- Compounding medications prescribed by physicians and dentists
- Managing the pharmacy’s daily operations
- Hiring and supervising staff
- Helping interns prepare for graduation or licensure
Pharmacists may help patients manage their health issues, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma. They may also work for Health Management Organizations (HMOs), or in hospitals or clinics where they might serve as consultants or specialize in drug therapy areas, such as nuclear pharmacotherapy or oncology.
Pharmacists Tools and Technology
As a pharmacist, you must be familiar with a variety of tools, such as:
- Laminar flow cabinets and hoods
- Ampoule filling equipment
- Medical radiological shielding screens
- Pestles and mortars
You will need to know and use computer software, including accounting and insurance claim processing programs, and software for scheduling and multitasking.
Education and Training for Pharmacists
Most individuals who become pharmacists have college degrees. Of those aged 25 to 44, 50.8%, have a doctoral or professional degree, 41.7% have a bachelor’s degree and 5.6% have earned a master’s. There are also many options for instructional training, such as Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Clinical and Industrial Drug Development or Pharmacy Administration, Policy and Regulatory Affairs.
Pharmacists are well paid. The average annual salary is $121,000. The lowest 10% of employees in this profession earn $89,000 annually and the top 10% make $150,600 per year.
Pharmacists Jobs by Geography
Statistics gathered indicate that there are 10,980 openings annually for pharmacists throughout the United States. California is the state with the highest number of job openings, followed by Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, in that order. The percentage of available jobs has been growing every year in every state, however, so if you choose to become a pharmacist, you will have many opportunities to find work.