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About Pharmacist Jobs

Do you have a knack for chemistry? Are you passionate about caring for others? A future as a pharmacist may offer you a great opportunity to employ your scientific reasoning and your communication skills in the service of public health. This recap of a pharmacist’s mission and opportunities will give you the necessary insight and answers to many questions regarding pharmacist jobs.

What Do Pharmacists Do?

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals trained to monitor and manage the usage of medication. In most cases, they’re the indispensable link between physicians and patients on their road to recovery, acting as consultants, providers, and supervisors when it comes to medication use.

Duties

The following encompasses the typical list of a pharmacist’s professional responsibilities:

  • Maintaining regular communication with patients, answering inquiries, offering consultations and advice on prevention methods and OTC and prescription medications
  • Preparing medications following physician instructions
  • Checking prescriptions and making sure to correctly inform patients on the right dose and method of administration—the primary duty among registered pharmacist jobs—as well as offering OTC solutions for patients, when applicable
  • Verifying if patients take other medication to prevent negative interactions between different drugs
  • Inquiring about the possible vulnerability patients may have to a certain medication—checking if they have a genetic predisposition or underlying condition that may negatively affect treatment
  • Consulting with health insurance companies on patient treatment
  • Helping patients fill out their insurance forms
  • Giving flu shots and other vaccinations
  • Managing administrative tasks—a requirement of all the different types of pharmacist jobs, especially those in a pharmacy setting, like inventory handling and keeping records
  • Mentoring and supervising younger staff and technicians

These are the most typical duties of pharmacists working in retail drugstores and private pharmacies. However, there are several types of pharmacists, and their duties encompass different activities in accordance with their responsibilities.

Types

The following are the most prevalent types of pharmacists:

Community Pharmacists 

In general, community pharmacists are what we think of when pharmacists are mentioned. They occupy pharmacy jobs in retail drugstores and private pharmacies where they undertake the processes of making and distributing medication and inform the public on the best practices for their use.

Clinical Pharmacists

Clinical pharmacists are responsible for monitoring the proper use of medication by patients admitted to hospitals, clinics, and other clinical environments. 

Pharmaceutical Industry Pharmacists

These pharmacists are often involved in the analysis, design, and development of new medications and treatments. They mostly work on clinical studies, but also as product managers, marketers, and sales personnel.

Consultant Pharmacists

Consultant pharmacist jobs are filled by pharmacists who propose their knowledge and expertise as full-time advisors for healthcare facilities, insurance providers, or patients. In the past few years, new job opportunities for remote pharmacist consultants have emerged in the field of online medicine distribution. These work-from-home pharmacists are also categorized as consultant pharmacists.

A small percentage of pharmacists work in governmental or military settings or in the education sector as professors.

Work Environment

The majority of pharmacists work in pharmacies and drugstores, and about 26% work in hospitals and clinics. As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8% of US jobs for pharmacists in 2018 were in food and beverage stores, and around 6% were working in markets and supermarkets. Only a very small number of pharmacists in 2018 were reported to work for the government or military.

Injuries and Illnesses

Pharmacists spend most of their working hours on their feet, which can make them vulnerable to diseases related to standing, like varicose veins. Furthermore, everyday contact with a large number of people suffering from the flu or a cold can mean a higher risk of contracting viruses and other infectious diseases. In addition, despite the fact that working night shifts augments the average pharmacist job’s salary, it can be detrimental to a pharmacist’s physical and emotional well-being, especially since many of them work as many as three different types of shifts.

Work Schedules

Most pharmacists work full time, 40 hours a week or longer. They often work night shifts, holidays, and weekends due to the popular “open 24/7”-policy adopted by many pharmacy owners. Clinical pharmacists follow the same work schedule, which, again, involves working in shifts. As far as other pharmacist positions are concerned, those who work in educational institutions mostly follow regular work hours.

How to Become a Pharmacist

The path to obtaining one of these pharmacist jobs starts by gaining a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree, which is the result of at least four years of successful attendance and passing exams at a university level.

Important Qualities

  • Analytical skills allow a pharmacist to assess each patient’s requirements and circumstances before distributing medication. Pharmacists have to be able to understand and follow the instructions provided by the prescriber, all while discerning any type of irregularity in those prescriptions. 
  • Working with a diverse, large public requires advanced communication skills. Patients have to understand what to do with their prescribed treatment, and it’s the pharmacist’s duty to effectively communicate this information to them. A pharmacist recruiter is often well aware of this essential requirement and develops recruitment tests that cover communication skills.
  • Computer skills are necessary. Pharmacists keep track of and record every prescribed medication through the EHR (electronic health record). The EHR is represented by different software in different pharmacies, so for efficient adaptation to changes and different problems that may occur, solid computer skills are a must.
  • In order to avoid mistakes that can have a toll on a patient’s health, pharmacists must be detail oriented, catching details on prescriptions efficiently and quickly.
  • Managing administrative work that includes documents and inventory requires advanced managerial skills, and this is why pharmacy jobs are demanding in versatile managerial skills.

Education

Aspiring pharmacists need to be strong in the scientific fields of chemistry and biology, beginning in high school, since institutions offering pharmacy degrees have competitive admittance. A minimum of four years of university studies are compulsory for acquiring a Pharm.D. degree.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Working as a pharmacist is based on obtaining a license. This can be done by passing the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE), after which, pharmacists can apply for available registered pharmacist jobs.

A possible alternative to the MPJE exam is passing a state-specific exam that encompasses the laws and regulations in the specific state where it’s taken. Prior to taking the MPJE or the NAPLEX license exam, pharmacists must usually complete 1,500 hours of board-approved experience—but the exact number of required hours can vary from state to state. In addition to these, pharmacists that practice immunization (vaccines) are also required to obtain a special certification.

Advancement

Ambitious pharmacists who aim for a position in the research field or as a clinical pharmacist need to complete an additional 1–2-year residency. Those who aim for a higher pharmacist job opportunity, such as a managerial position, often continue their education and obtain a master of business administration degree, which, according to recent surveys, plays to a great favor in their employment chances. What’s more, pharmacists are not allowed to own their pharmacy without an MBA.

Pay

In 2018, pharmacists working in general merchandise stores earned the most, $131,460, in contrast with other types of pharmacists. This was especially the case for pharmacist jobs in drug stores and pharmacies, where the median annual wage was $124,760. The overall median annual salary for pharmacists in 2018 was estimated at $126,120, which is a staggering 226.4% higher than the median for all occupations, and 55.7% higher than the median salary of most other health practitioners as per BLS data.

Job Outlook

Projections into new pharmacist job openings displayed by the BLS show a decrease in the number of positions by 2028. Meanwhile, most other sectors will mark an average growth rate of 5%. Pharmacists will face bigger competition with the job positions emerging from the ever-present pharmacy-teaching institutions.

Job Prospects

The online availability of medications won’t ease the prospect of finding a job for future pharmacists. Investing in career advancements by gaining specific certifications and additional degrees can improve their chances of finding a job, but online consultation is the presumed direction where this profession will move.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the job of a pharmacist?

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who work mostly in direct contact with patients, providing them with these services:

  • Checking prescriptions, verifying the correctness of instructions, and distributing prescribed medicine
  • Preparing medication per a physician’s instructions
  • Checking for potential medical interactions or adverse drug reactions in patients
  • Instructing patients on the dose and time when the medication needs to be taken, explaining potential side-effects, and providing tips for managing them are also part of the typical pharmacist job description
  • Giving flu shots
  • Filling out insurance forms, communicating with insurance companies about certain prescribed medications, and helping patients with health insurance forms
  • Providing patients with advice on healthcare practices to ease certain ailments, or recommending certain medications as a solution
  • Advising patients on proper treatment techniques, answering possible inquiries regarding the treatment prescribed, and offering advice to other healthcare professionals
  • Performing administrative work in the pharmacy, ordering new batches of medication, and keeping records
  • Serving as a supervisor to technicians

What are the different types of pharmacy jobs?

There are several types of pharmacists:

  • Community pharmacists work in private or chain pharmacies and are in regular, direct contact with patients while making and distributing medications and advising patients on their treatment process.
  • Pharmaceutical industry pharmacists focus on the research and development of new drugs by conducting and supervising clinical studies and monitoring the medication’s quality and safety. This pharmacist job can also involve working in the sales and marketing of healthcare products.
  • Clinical pharmacists work in hospitals, clinics, and other medical settings where they take direct care of patients, participating in rounds and supervising the time, dosage, and type of administered medication. 
  • Consultant pharmacists work as full-time advisers for healthcare facilities, insurance providers, or patients regarding treatment and pharmacy services.

Some pharmacists teach subjects in the field of pharmacy to college students.

Where is it best to find pharmacist jobs?

43% of pharmacists work in retail pharmacies and drug stores, and there’s always a greater chance of job openings in a larger pharmacy chain than in a small private one. One-quarter of pharmacists work in private or public hospitals and clinics. Other potential employers are food and beverage stores or supermarkets. Advertising companies who sell healthcare products can also solicit pharmacists, either as full-time employees or remote consultants. Some pharmacists can find positions as professors in universities and colleges.

When is it best to start applying for pharmacist jobs?

One single ideal time to start applying doesn’t exist. It mostly depends on the candidate’s ambition. 

After graduating and obtaining your Doctor of Pharmacy degree and your certifications, you can opt for a better position as a clinical or research pharmacist. In this case, you’ll need to complete a 1–2-year residency prior to applying. If you go with the 2-year residency option, you’ll receive additional training in a specialty area of your choice. 

If you want to apply for a job in a drugstore, you might want to wait until the end of September and December, because in this period, companies are coming to the end of the fiscal year and may be open for new staff employment.

What is the job outlook for a pharmacist?

The occupational outlook data provided by the Bureau of Labor states that employment in the pharmacy field is entering a “dead stage” where an increase in the employment rate is not expected by 2028. However, the BLS notes that new pharmacists will be needed in clinical settings, in hospitals, whereas their employment in drugstores will likely decline.

What jobs can a pharmacist get with an MBA?

Many ambitious pharmacists choose to go for an additional master’s degree in business administration (MBA). Pharmacy/MBA professionals are qualified for managerial positions in hospitals and large pharmacies. A 2017 survey shows that pharmacists with an MBA have a higher job satisfaction rate than other pharmacists.

What jobs can a pharmacist do other than pharmacy work?

Pharmacists can be full-time consultants for healthcare providers, health insurance companies, etc. They can also work as online advisors. Furthermore, the marketing and sales industry is recruiting pharmacists to promote and sell healthcare products.

These aren’t the most optimistic projections for the future employment of pharmacists. New trends make us wonder if we’re to expect pharmacists to play a more customer-service role in the future—one completely different than the position we used to know. One thing’s for sure, pharmacist jobs are about to evolve, so if you made up your mind to pursue this career path, you should brace yourself for the changing tides.