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Pharmacist Job Description

Pharmacist Job Description
Over the years, the roles and responsibilities of a pharmacy professional have undergone a tremendous change. No longer limited to just selling prescription medicines, pharmacists have widened the ambit of their duties. Today, they have become indispensable members of medical teams in hospitals and healthcare units. This article will give you more information about the pharmacist job description and, its professional requirements.
CareerStint Staff
Did you Know?

According to a Gallup Poll conducted in Nov. 2012, Americans have placed pharmacists as the most trusted profession, second only to nurses, that has honesty and strong ethical values.

We all are aware of the fact that medicines and drugs play a vital role in maintaining the health of patients. While doctors prescribe the right medicines, it is the pharmacist who makes them available for the patients. Among the various medical jobs, The job of a pharmacist can give you an opportunity to learn the complexities of medicines and also earn an attractive pay package. To understand more about pharmacists, let us take a look at their major duties and responsibilities, followed by the job outlook of this profession.

Responsibilities and Duties

Earlier, a pharmacist was a professional who dispensed medicines to the patients, as prescribed by the medical expert. However, the role of a pharmacist has evolved over a period of time. Today, experienced pharmacists not only give prescribed medicines but are also entitled to suggest medicines for minor health problems. They work in hospitals, clinics, healthcare units as medical team consultants, or as specialists in specific drug therapies for oncology or nuclear pharmacotherapy. The management of medicines and drugs in healthcare units and hospitals forms a crucial part of the duties of pharmacists.

➜ Support Doctors
A pharmacist assists doctors and surgeons in prescribing dosage and medicine to patients in hospitals. He helps clinicians to establish and follow the appropriate protocols for storage, distribution, and administration procedures of investigatory medication. He also assists the doctor in medical billing and paperwork of medical health insurance.

➜ Counseling Patients
It is one of the key duties of a pharmacist to inform patients about the potential side effects and reaction of drugs if any. He also imparts information about the drug dosage and storage along with preventive care, even for patients who come for over-the-counter medication. He offers training to patients for utilizing simple medical testing devices like those used for monitoring blood pressure or diabetes. He also advises patients on selection of medical brands and healthcare supplies. At times, a pharmacist may also have to administer vaccines and even help patients with queries related to Medicare and health insurance.

➜ Maintaining Patient Records and Inventory
A pharmacist is responsible for maintaining accurate record of medication or therapy administered to patients, besides keeping record of inventories of syringes, IV bottles and other medical supplies. He has to comply with procedures and regulations regarding maintenance of stock of medication in his store. Another key duty is to maintain control records for narcotics, poisons and drugs which cannot be dispensed without doctor's prescription. He also checks the expiry date of medicines and follows correct procedure and regulation while clearing the stock of old medicines.

➜ Drug Verification and Accuracy
Some ingredients of medicines have to mixed in proper proportion by measuring their exact weight and composition to obtain the correct medication. An important task handled by a pharmacist is the verification of the preparation and labeling of such medicines. For drugs or medicines that contain radioactive elements, to ensure proper dosages, a pharmacist verify rates of disintegration and calculates the volume required to produce the desired results.

➜ Other Duties
A pharmacist provides guidance to pharmacy interns and helps them in completing their graduation or getting a license. Very often, a pharmacist has to participate in clinical programs to impart pharmaceutical knowledge and train hospital staff. It is his duty to join forums or undertake educational courses from time to time in order to update his/her knowledge about new medicines and medical research. He has to publish pharmaceutical educational information in journals and white papers for the benefit of other pharmacists and doctors.

Qualities and Skill Set

• Interpersonal skills
• Communication skills
• Computer skills
• Attention to detail
• Medical awareness
• Counseling skills
• Organizational skills
• Scientific aptitude

Job Outlook for Pharmacists

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2010, the median annual wage of a pharmacists was $111,570. The employment opportunities for pharmacist jobs is estimated to show an upward trend. It is expected to increase by 25% (2010-2020), faster than the average of all occupations. With substantial work experience and certain capital, many pharmacists also become part-time owners of some drug stores. For those working in drug stores, experience can lead them to handle larger roles like drug store supervisor or drug store manager. Some may even rise to become regional managers and manage branches of various chain drugstores. Pharmacists can also work in marketing, sales, medicine research and quality control departments of pharmaceutical companies.

Educational Requirements

A pharmacists must have completed a 4-year professional degree course, Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.), from an Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) accredited school. Before that an aspiring pharmacists should have completed at least two years of college that includes subjects like math, chemistry, biology. To become a research pharmacist or clinical pharmacists, an aspirant has to complete a 1-2 year residency following their Pharm. D. For any pharmacist it is essential to clear two exams. The first is the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination to obtain a license. While the second is the test of pharmacy law called the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination. This license is necessary even for self-employed pharmacists.

A pharmacist's job might entail spending the whole day on your feet hence he should be physically fit. He is expected to possess excellent communication and pay attention to detail, as even a small lapse can also prove costly and have serious implications. While self-employed pharmacists often work evenings and weekends for about fifty hours per week, most salaried employees work about forty hours per week. Some pharmacists work part-time too. Benefits for salaried pharmacists generally include health insurance, retirement plans and paid vacations, while self-employed pharmacists must provide their own benefits.