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What does the job of a pharmacist entail?

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John’s Answer

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.

Pharmacists typically do the following:

- Fill prescriptions, verifying instructions from physicians on the proper amounts of medication to give to patients
- Check whether prescriptions will interact negatively with other drugs that a patient is taking or any medical conditions the patient has
- Instruct patients on how and when to take a prescribed medicine and inform them about potential side effects from taking the medicine
- Give flu shots and, in most states, other vaccinations
- Advise patients about general health topics, such as diet, exercise, and managing stress, and on other issues, such as what equipment or
supplies would be best to treat a health problem
- Complete insurance forms and work with insurance companies to ensure that patients get the medicines they need
- Oversee the work of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists in training (interns)
- Keep records and do other administrative tasks
- Teach other healthcare practitioners about proper medication therapies for patients

Some pharmacists who own their pharmacy or manage a chain pharmacy spend time on business activities, such as inventory management. 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.

John recommends the following next steps:

more details at www.bls.gov/ooh

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Palak’s Answer

Hi Zemira, I just wanted to add to the conversation with two resources that may be helpful:

1) Top 10 reasons to become a pharmacist: https://www.aacp.org/resource/top-ten-reasons-become-pharmacist
2) Different career pathways of a pharmacisthttps://pharmacyforme.org/why-pharmacy-may-be-right-for-you/career-pathways/

Best of luck

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Jaymin’s Answer

John has a provided a detailed answer on what does Pharmacist do. Essentially pharmacist is an expert on pharmaceuticals, specifically drugs with respect to the chemistry, pharmacology and clinical therapeutics and has the knowledge and skills to answer patient's questions as to the safer use of medications. A pharmacy graduate has a variety of choices in careers depending upon their interest, they can serve in retail, hospital setting as pharmacist dispensing medicines, provide guidance to patients and clinicians in hospital and clinical setting, and alternatively pursue a research career in pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.

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Chau’s Answer

Hi Zemira! John's answer is very comprehensive as to what a pharmacist or a career in Pharma could entail. From a personal perspective, my sister is a Pharm-D (doctorate in Pharmacy) and started her career in a local hospital in their neo-natal unit. Since then, she has expanded her career to include clinical research and is right now, part of a team focusing on preparedness in support of addressing the current pandemic. I think the variability of the field does allow for you to look to focus on where your interest lie - aside from your traditional view of retail pharmacists. As with most fields, I highly recommend finding a mentor or joining professional societies that offer a means to get practical advice and perspective in your field of interest, and just as important, is a great avenue for networking.