Pharmacists serve a vital function in society, dispensing medications to patients as prescribed, informing customers about pharmaceutical safety and interaction risks, and may also conduct health screenings.
Working pharmacists may find themselves working a full-time schedule and spend most of their workday on their feet.
When filling a prescription for a patient, most pharmacists apply standard dosages as given by pharmaceutical companies. Some pharmacists may create customized medication by mixing ingredients via compounding.
Multiple types of pharmacists carry out necessary duties.
This type of pharmacist is available to advise or consul insurance companies, healthcare companies, or patients directly about medication usage, or how to improve services.
This type of pharmacist typically works one-on-one with patients involved in clinical trials. Pharmacists under this type are responsible for overseeing the dosage and administration of drugs to patients. Usually, clinical pharmacists are found in hospitals or clinics.
Most people are familiar with community pharmacists, often found employed at the local drug store, or at independent pharmacies. These pharmacists are available to offer information and advise about prescriptions, health services, administer vaccines, and offer over-the-counter medication.
Pharmaceutical Industry Pharmacists
This specific pharmacist is involved in medical research, clinical trials, and the development of new drugs.
In addition to conducting research, many pharmacists choose to teach at colleges and universities.
Overall, most pharmacists are employed at drug stores, pharmacies, and hospitals.
Due to the nature of a pharmacists work and educational experience, a pharmacist salary usually pays over $100,000 annually. Depending on where a pharmacist works, earnings may vary.
Education & Training Required Of A Pharmacist
It is essential that a student attend an accredited pharmacy program and earn a postgraduate professional degree. Usually, a pharmacist receives a Doctor of Pharmacy degree to prove their certification.
Some students may be allowed to attend pharmacy school after first earning a bachelor's degree, or at least finishing two-years of undergraduate study. Additionally, students may anticipate having to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test.
To prepare for studying pharmacy, students often take coursework in the sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics. Taking prerequisite courses is a great way to appreciate the interaction of human physiology and functions in response to applied pharmaceutical drugs.
Most pharmacy programs require a 4-year commitment, but some programs are as short as three years. High school students may be able to apply for pharmacy schools which run for six years. To earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, students must study pharmacology, ethics in medicine, and chemistry.
After earning a degree and completing a pharmacy program, pharmacists must then pass state-licensed exams before practicing. Certified pharmacists must be compliant and display proficiency in pharmacy skills, knowledge, and pharmacy laws. States may vary on the knowledge required of pharmacists before they can practice.
There are additional types of examination tests, certifications, and licenses extended to pharmacists who wish to specialize.
And, including having to successfully earn a degree and pass examination tests for the state, pharmacists must also complete a residency program which may take one to two years.
If one wishes to become a pharmacist, they should first ask themselves if they possess the following qualities.
Occupational Expectations & Work Environment
Although many pharmacists work in clean and safe spaces such as retail stores, hospitals, and clinics, there are still potential work hazards.
Having to be in contact with the general public may expose pharmacists to biological hazards. Pharmacists should make sure to take caution when interacting with patients, frequently wash hands, and limit access to authorized staff only.
Inherent Risks On The Job
Improper or inadequate ventilation can exacerbate health problems, which can trigger respiratory illness and malaise. If needed, pharmacists should wear disposable gloves, wear eye protection, and wear masks as is necessary to prevent contamination or exposure.
Compounding medicines, or mixing drugs for clients can be risky. When compounding, pharmacists should wear protective gear to prevent contact with their eyes, skin, nose, and mouth, and be cautious about spills.
Certain medications may be hazardous if they make contact with exposed skin, the nose, mouth, or eyes. Care should be taken when handling pharmaceutical materials, including proper storage, disposal, and clean up.
Pharmacists may need to utilize ladders to reach medicines and materials on high shelves, which poses the risk of falling or another type of injury. Broken glassware during compounding can potentially cause a cut. Having to lift heavy items such as boxes, or tripping over boxes strewn about may cause an injury to the ankle, back, or damaged inventory.
If a pharmacist works at a retail store and doubly works as a cashier making transactions for the sale of medications, there is also the risk of being robbed for money and medicine. Some medications are costly, and robbers know that they can net a significant amount of money on the street for illegal sales of stolen prescription drugs.
With the rise of addiction to specific pharmaceutical drugs, such as opioids, individuals wishing to fuel their addiction may pose a risk to pharmacists by committing robbery as well. Unwell persons whose health is questionable naturally may expose pharmacists to unwanted bacteria, viruses, or other contaminants which may make them fall ill.
Since pharmacists spend a lot of time on their feet, they may be subject to developing problems down the line with their spine, feet, and experience aches and pains. Wearing supportive shoes with cushioned insoles that support the arch and heel of the foot may help. Additionally, pharmacists should take time to get off of their feet when they can during a break or lunch hour.
If spending lots of time in front of a computer screen or under bright unnatural lighting, a pharmacist may want to have a screen to reduce eye strain and stress placed on the computer. Wearing a wrist brace at work may help with carpal tunnel syndrome and offer support. Wearing glasses with a tint or protective coating may help reduce unwanted glare and eye strain too.
Prevention Is Key
Being aware of safety procedures and following protocol when compounding is important. Equally important, pharmacists should make sure that any accidents are immediately taken care of, and any materials that need to be disposed of are done so properly. The responsibility of maintaining a safe workplace is everyone's job.
Since most prescriptions and patient records are found on the computer, pharmacists will be expected to spend time on the machines regularly. Making sure to wear corrective eyewear if needed, utilizing ergonomic seating when possible, and using proper posture with the wrists to reduce carpal tunnel syndrome is helpful.
Working as a pharmacist is not overly stressful, but there is still the risk of stress from dissatisfied or upset patients inquiring about their prescription. There may be frustration over having to compound medications, mix-ups with prescriptions, or difficulty caused by co-workers and the work environment.
Pharmacists should be aware of the impact of lighting, ventilation, and safety procedures on their health and others. Additionally, pharmacists should wear protective clothing and gear as needed for the workday as a preventative measure.
Good housekeeping to remove potential safety hazards, and regularly doing risk assessments to reduce the chance of injuries or harm is key to a healthier and safer workplace. Good record keeping, transparent, effective communication between coworkers, and a commitment to enforce safety measures are important.
Average Salary & Outlook For Pharmacist Positions
- When it comes to a pharmacist salary, the investment in education and training to work as a pharmacist is valuable.
The average pharmacist salary is around $122,230 as listed for 2016. Top earnings for pharmacists in 2016 were listed as $157,950.
Pharmacists who are employed at drugstores earn a bit more than pharmacists who work at mail-order pharmacies or supermarkets. Pharmacists who work for mass-merchants earn the most on average.
According to sources like PayScale.com, the years of experience that a pharmacist has does not significantly impact earnings.
Most pharmacists can expect to earn an average between $84,000 and $134,000 annually. Clinical pharmacists are usually the highest paid among their peers.
The need for pharmacists will continue to be on the rise, with a p`rojected 6% increase for positions through 2026. As the population ages, pharmacists will be relied upon to continue to fill prescriptions, give vaccinations, and inform consumers about foods and lifestyle activities that can interact with prescribed medications.
Overall, anyone interested in becoming a pharmacist can expect a good outlook for this profession, and to earn a healthy income after completing their training and licensing.