distribute prescription drugs to individuals. They also advise their
patients, physicians, and other health practitioners on the selection,
dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications, as well as
monitor the health and progress of those patients to ensure that they
are using their medications safely and effectively. Compounding -- the
actual mixing of ingredients to form medications -- is a small part of a
pharmacist's practice, because most medicines are produced by
pharmaceutical companies in standard dosages and drug delivery forms.
Most pharmacists work in a community setting, such as a retail
drugstore, or in a healthcare facility, such as a hospital.
in community pharmacies dispense medications, counsel patients on the
use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, and advise
physicians about medication therapy. They also advise patients about
general health topics, such as diet, exercise, and stress management,
and provide information on products, such as durable medical equipment
or home healthcare supplies. In addition, they often complete
third-party insurance forms and other paperwork. Those who own or manage
community pharmacies may sell non-health-related merchandise, hire and
supervise personnel, and oversee the general operation of the pharmacy.
Some community pharmacists provide specialized services to help patients
with conditions such as diabetes, asthma, smoking cessation, or high
blood pressure. Some pharmacists are trained to administer vaccinations.
Pharmacists in healthcare facilities dispense medications and advise
the medical staff on the selection and effects of drugs. They may make
sterile solutions to be administered intravenously. They also plan,
monitor, and evaluate drug programs or regimens. They may counsel
hospitalized patients on the use of drugs before the patients are
Some pharmacists specialize in specific drug therapy areas, such as
intravenous nutrition support, oncology (cancer), nuclear pharmacy (used
for chemotherapy), geriatric pharmacy, and psychiatric pharmacy (the use
of drugs to treat mental disorders).
Most pharmacists keep confidential computerized records of patients'
drug therapies to prevent harmful drug interactions. Pharmacists are
responsible for the accuracy of every prescription that is filled, but
they often rely upon
pharmacy technicians to assist them in the dispensing medications.
Thus, the pharmacist may delegate prescription-filling and
administrative tasks and supervise their completion. Pharmacists also
frequently oversee pharmacy students serving as interns.
Some pharmacists are involved in research for pharmaceutical
manufacturers, developing new drugs and testing their effects. Others
work in marketing or sales, providing clients with expertise on the use,
effectiveness, and possible side effects of drugs. Some pharmacists work
for health insurance companies, developing pharmacy benefit packages and
carrying out cost-benefit analyses on certain drugs. Other pharmacists
work for the government, managed care organizations, public healthcare
services, or the armed services. Finally, some pharmacists are employed
full time or part time as college faculty, teaching classes and
performing research in a wide range of areas.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.