Think about your experiences with a retail pharmacist. You go into a pharmacy to find something to fix a medical problem you’re having, but you don’t know where to start. Or, you’re filling a prescription, but forgot to ask your doctor any questions about the medication prescribed.
Asking a helpful pharmacist those questions can be as informative as getting that brief one-on-one time with your doctor. Of course, a pharmacist doesn’t have your medical history, but will know about your medications, side effects, and interactions with other drugs. They’re a wealth of information!
Healthcare in general is undergoing rapid changes that are revolutionizing the way we view and receive services and pharmacists are a large part of that change. In the past or in some locations known as chemists or druggists, pharmacists are health professionals with a deep knowledge of medications.
The new breed of pharmacists are educators and are business-savvy professionals. Of course, they need to possess excellent memories and great interpretation skills to understand the prescription and the doctor’s intent, not to mention interactions with other medications. So, they also need a good “bedside” manner, (even though there’s no bedside!) because they need to discuss the medication with the person who will be using it.
Depending on the availability and job duties of pharmacy technicians or administrative support, pharmacists may either oversee the process or have responsibility for actually filling the prescription.
- The average salary of a pharmacist is approximately $126k.
- Pharmacy management, hospitals, and patient interaction are experiencing an increase in the need for pharmacists.
- Pharmacogenomics. Doctors and pharmacists will rely on genetic testing like 23andMe to design healthcare customized for each patient.
- For a variety of reasons, educated or busy consumers are more involved in their own health these days and look for over-the-counter medications for a quick fix (remember the retail pharmacist?)
A pharmacist’s career can progress on a management or clinical path, and there are a variety of different venues in which a pharmacist can practice.
Clinical pharmacists provide direct care to patients while the specialization of nuclear pharmacy works with radioactive medications in the treatment of specific illnesses.
What Can Set A Candidate Apart?
- Knowledge of/experience in the latest trends in healthcare and medications, especially pertaining to the use of technology
- Experience with specialized treatment protocols and medications geared towards an aging population
Common Skills and Proficiencies
- In a profession where a mistake can mean the difference between life and death, accuracy is critical
- Although it should be part of any job, access to drugs requires the highest level of integrity
- Excellent skills in science and math
- Highly proficient in pharmaceutical software
- Extensive, demonstrated knowledge of all components of medications and dosage protocols
Frequently Required Credentials and Education
- Pharm.D (Doctor of Pharmacy)
- Specialized certifications may not be required but will increase marketability
- State license
The pharmacy profession has experienced phenomenal growth (big increases recently in the number of pharmacy schools), causing some concern about the number of jobs available to new graduates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that growth is expected to be 6% through 2026 which is average for all occupations.
However, the growing aging population with the corresponding increasing need for medications provides a continued need.
Pharmacists will be expected to use more cognitive skills and less of the mechanical aspects of pharmaceutical dispensing.
One great potential perk is the possibility of loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) with employers who qualify (e.g. hospitals).