The health profession that ties chemical sciences and health sciences together is called pharmacy and those that practice the science of pharmacy are called pharmacists. The main goal of a pharmacist is to ensure that pharmaceutical drugs are used safely and effectively, but the role of a pharmacist also includes much more. Pharmacists are specially trained to properly dispense medication, provide drug information, review drugs for effectiveness and safety, and to perform clinical services. In a nutshell, a pharmacist is an expert on drug therapy that can provide patients with medication to promote good health. The Pharmacy field is divided into three disciplines: Pharmacy practice, Medicinal chemistry/Pharmacognosy, and Pharmaceutics, of which the lines between each discipline can be blurred.
Nature of work
Pharmacists take various roles to ensure their patients obtain good health. The primary role of a pharmacist is to dispense medications as prescribed by a healthcare professional. But there is more to this field as pharmacists are also there to advise patients and other health care providers on drug side effects, dosages, interactions, and specific medicine selection. Pharmacists also take charge of a person’s pharmaceutical care, monitoring a patient’s progress to make sure their medication is safe and effective, as well as looking for additional drugs that can improve the patient’s outcome. When a person is injured they often visit a pharmacy first, where a Pharmacist can provide first aid information, recommend bandages and dressings, suggest medications, and provide referrals to physicians. A Pharmacist is a great resource for advice and counseling on medicinal uses and on the provision of non-prescription drugs. A pharmacist can administer immunizations, properly dose drugs, educate people on disease and treatments, provide general health advice, and compound or combine medications.
Qualifications and Registration
In the United States, a potential pharmacist starts their education by earning a Bachelor’s degree, although many pharmaceutical programs require at least 2 years of undergraduate schooling and a completed list of prerequisites. Next, the student must complete 4 years of pharmacy school to obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Finally, the student must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination and Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination licensure exams. There are currently 116 accredited pharmacy schools in the U.S., six of which have an accelerated three-year program where students must attend school almost all year round. There is also one fully accredited online or distance learning four-year PharmD program at Creighton University. To take it a step further, a pharmacist in America can choose a specialty practice and obtain certifications in such specific areas as ambulatory car, nutrition, nuclear pharmacy, pharmacotherapy, infectious disease, cardiology, geriatric pharmacy, toxicology, and psychiatric pharmacy.
Academic pharmacists are the educators that are teaching the next generations of Pharmacists. These pharmacists work in schools and colleges and provide education to local, state, national, and even international organizations. Academic pharmacists also get involved with biological sciences, clinic science, administrative tasks, drug discovery, natural medicinal products and pharmacology.
A clinical pharmacist is typically in charge of coordinating the duties of the pharmacy technicians, including preparing, labeling, and delivery of medications and supplies as stated in physician’s prescriptions. The clinical pharmacist must also ensure that all medications dispensed from the pharmacy are in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations and laws. A clinical pharmacist also has education related responsibilities, such as mentoring and training less experienced pharmacists and speaking at seminars, conventions and conferences.
A compounding pharmacist provides patients with a customized blend of medications when all other options are not effective. These compound medications are not commercially available, or the commercially manufactured drugs require alterations to meet the needs of a specific patient. There are many types of people that require compound medications, such as a patient that is allergic to a component of a manufactured medication, a child who can not swallow a pill and need a liquid medication, or a drug is needed in a smaller dose than what is available through mass production.
Consultant pharmacists provide clinical services to people that are receiving home care, such as hospice, and those that live in retirement communities and long-term care facilities. Consultant pharmacists must combine skills that are used in hospital and retail pharmacy, such as being familiar with intravenous medications, total parenteral nutrition, and over-the-counter medications. As a consultant, these pharmacists will need experience working in a pharmacy because they are often called upon to be a liaison between the provider pharmacy and the nursing facilities.
Drug Information Pharmacist
Most drug information pharmacists work in drug information centers, which is a center that accepts a wide range of requests from health care professionals. This position entails investigating and researching drugs, drug interactions, drug identification, adverse drug reactions, drug use safety, and the safety of drugs used by pregnant and nursing mothers. The drug information pharmacists in one center can answer over 5,000 informational requests a year.
A hospital pharmacist works in a hospital setting, providing pharmaceutical services and more complex clinical medication management to hospital patients only. A hospital pharmacy usually has a larger range of available medications, especially drugs that are more specialized and drugs that are currently being studies but have not yet been approved, than local retail pharmacies.
An informatics pharmacist utilizes technology, such as computers and electronic health records, to improve patient’s health, strengthen the clinician-patient relationship, and enhance individual health outcomes. These pharmacists also develop and refine clinical decision support systems, evaluate and update clinical processes, asses the needs of patients and other health care professionals, and may participate in various roles to continue the improvement of clinical information systems.
A veterinary pharmacist has been specially trained to dispense medicine and provide advice to animals, both pets and other livestock. Veterinary pharmacists also advise regulatory bodies involved in formulating drugs for animals.
Pharmacist Clinical Pathologist
A pharmacist clinical pathologist works in hospital and clinic laboratories and assists with the body fluid analysis and they can work in blood banks. This type of pharmacist will also be involved in patient testing to determine the best course of medication for that patient. There are several areas of specialty within the pharmacist clinical pathologist field, including hematology, microbiology, and chemistry.
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