Pharmacists ensure the appropriate use of, and optimal therapeutic outcomes from, medications and serve patients and other health professionals. Pharmacists interpret and review prescription orders, screen and review medication records, dispense medications, educate patients on proper use of drugs, and refer patients to other sources of help and care. Pharmacists must know the physical and chemical properties of drugs and the way they behave in the body and how it might react in the presence of other drugs. Pharmacists may also require business skills, since they purchase and sell hundreds of health-related items. In the hospital, pharmacists assist physicians in the drug therapy decisions and may be responsible for selecting and purchasing all medicines used by the facility. Josephine Sasu-Tenkoramaa is a 2006 aluma and a pharmacy student at Rutgers University. She offers the following descriptions of pharmacy career opportunities:
- Community Pharmacist: The most common and what people think of when they imagine the profession of pharmacy. Your main responsibilities are to dispense medication, provide counseling sessions and known the nature of how the pharmacy acquires its inventories.
- Consultant Pharmacist: These pharmacists work in assisted living homes and they look at patients' medication. These patients often take multiple medications, so pharmacists must ensure that there are not any drug-to-drug interactions.
- Managed Care Pharmacist: These pharmacists work for Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) companies or Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) such as insurance companies to determine the most effective way to administer drug therapies at a lower cost to help both the patients and the third party payers. If you're interested in business, this is a good place to be.
- Hospital Pharmacist: These pharmacists work in hospitals and sometimes serve as clinicians.
- Industrial Pharmacist: These pharmacists work in clinical trials, regulatory affairs, or post-market surveillance when the drugs are on the market. They monitor the development and safety of drugs for the mass population.
A pharmacist, as with all health professions, must make a commitment to life-long learning and is expected to read biological, medical and chemical literature as well as professional, corporate and pharmaceutical publications. Because pharmacists assume responsibility for human life, states have strict laws about licensure that vary from state to state.
In July 2000, the accreditation standard for the pharmacy degree became the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.). If research is a goal, pharmacy graduates must almost always go on to advanced study in pharmacy, pharmaceutics, pharmacology, toxicology, pharmaceutical chemistry or other pharmaceutical sciences. A new field of research is pharmacy administration where outcome analysis, including cost-effectiveness of drug therapy, is one example of the type of issue this discipline examines.