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What Can Pharmacists Do?

Updated on May 5, 2012

What is a Pharmacist?

Currently, a pharmacist is an individual who graduates from an accredited school of pharmacy and has received their Doctorate of Pharmacy degree, and has passed their boards and state license test. They are then allowed to practice the profession of pharmacy within their licensed practice state.

What can a Pharmacist do then?

  • Community Pharmacist - These pharmacists practice in local retail settings (eg. Independent pharmacy, 'Box Pharmacy,' Super store pharmacy). They are responsible for the dispensing of medications (whether it be compounded or dispensed from prepared medications) To accomplish this, they manage the inventory of the pharmacy to ensure a continuous supply of medications based upon their patients needs. They take in prescriptions from licensed practitioners, via: hard-copy prescriptions, E-scripts, fax, or phone. From this, they then have the prescription entered for documentation. Medications are then filled, and the pharmacist is responsible for ensuring it is the right medication, dose, and that there are no interactions with the patients other medications that may cause harm. The pharmacist then may, if the patient desires, consult them on the medication they are being prescribed. This may include: what the medication is for, potential side effects, how to take the medication, and what to be aware of.
  • Hospital Pharmacist - These pharmacist practice in hospitals and institutions that dispense medications in an inpatient setting. They are responsible for ensuring a supply of medications at the facility to address patient care. They are also responsible for helping the medical staff (eg. physicians, nurses, etc.) with medication doses and administration and therapy questions. The preparation of medications and checking medications sent to the floor are also the responsibility of the pharmacist. This may include medications a patient takes on a daily basis, STAT medications, and IV medications.
  • Nuclear Pharmacist - These pharmacist are responsible for the compounding of materials for medical procedures. A good example would be infusions that are tagged with nuclear radioisotope for diagnoses at a medical center.
  • Clinical Pharmacist - Pharmacists that engage themselves in a role in which they have clinical input are tossed under the 'clinical' pharmacist group. These pharmacists may work in a inpatient setting such as a hospital. Here they work closely with physicians and other care givers to help in the care of patients. This may vary in their specialty (eg. internal medicine, critical care, pediatrics, infectious disease, etc). Their responsibilities may include monitoring patients therapies and response to medications, as well as being a reference on medications dosing in regards to the patients situation. Other roles for clinical pharmacists are an outpatient setting (such as a ambulatory clinic), where they help manage patients chronic disease state. This includes such diseases as hypertension, diabetes, etc. They may make recommendations to their primary, change medications, prescribe new therapies, refer to other specialists, or order tests for monitoring their patients.
  • Researcher - Pharmacists can be utilized in multiple research settings that seek to advance the practice of pharmacy or aid in the development of new medications. This can be either done in a hospital institution (usually in the testing of new therapies and enrolling new patients), or through industry where the logistics of drug development are usually handled for phase 1-4 trials.
  • Pharmacologist - These pharmacist elect to go and attain a Ph.D. in the study and research of drugs. There is a higher emphasis in this field on understanding the chemistry of medications their binding to receptors and the effect physiologically.
  • Professor - These pharmacists have elected to return to a pharmacy school or college to help educate the next generation of pharmacists through precepting students and teaching classes. Responsibilities also involve working closely in the community and advancing the cause of pharmacy and research.
  • Managed Care - Pharmacists may work closely to help develop formularies for patients medications to save on costs and create a more structured environment for patient prescription plans. This is based upon a close identification of research on drug classes and equivalents and disease states to ensure therapies utilized are sensible and not wasteful when other alternatives are available.


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    • Anjili profile image

      Anjili 5 years ago from planet earth, a humanoid

      A very useful article that informs on the role pharmacists play at their place of work. They save the day in the absence of a doctor. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful.