Most pharmacists work in community pharmacies like drugstores and provide advice and preventative care in addition to dispensing prescriptions. For over 20 years, Americans have placed pharmacists in the top ranks of the "most trusted professionals," according to Gallup polls. The occupational outlook for pharmacists is excellent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment of pharmacists is expected to grow faster than average through 2018, the BLS says.
The primary responsibility of a pharmacist is to safely and properly dispense medication to patients within the regulations of state pharmacy boards. Because of the possible dangers of pharmaceuticals, pharmacists cannot legally delegate dispensation to subordinates. However, pharmacy technicians can help prepare prescriptions. After receiving verbal or otherwise authorized refill instructions from physicians, pharmacists consult with patients to determine if there are any other possible conditions that may influence the medication's effect. State laws vary on a pharmacist's right to refuse medication to a customer.
Records and Personnel Management
Pharmacists must record all the details of each transaction, including the date, time, amount of medication and the purpose of the prescription. Not recording this information makes the pharmacist vulnerable to legal action if the patient reacts negatively to the medication. Pharmacists maintain confidential patient medication records and may use that information when consulting with the patient's physicians, nurses or other health care practitioners. These records are important for reference purposes to prevent dangerous drug interactions. Pharmacists may also be responsible for the hiring and management of employees like technicians and medical clerks in drugstores.
Pharmacists build relationships with patients over time and monitor their overall health. It is important for a pharmacist to have a good rapport with patients to properly assess their health needs. In some states like Georgia, pharmacists must offer counseling when dispensing prescriptions to new patients. Pharmacists also give preventative care advice to patients who do not need a prescription but may need to purchase over-the-counter drugs.
Some drugstores, especially large chains, participate in statewide and national flu and H1N1 vaccination efforts. Pharmacies that participate in vaccination campaigns are vital in helping to prevent the spread of disease. Pharmacists at large drugstores may also give vaccines for tetanus, pneumonia, shingles, hepatitis B and meningitis.
Even after obtaining a license to practice from the state, pharmacists are required to participate in accredited continuing education over the course of their careers. Requirements vary by state. Continuing-education options include classes at pharmacy colleges, industry conference workshops, online and distance-learning courses and clinical training.
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy: Community Pharmacy
- Purdue University: The Responsibilities of a Pharmacist
- U.S. Public Health Service: Sources of Continuing Education for Pharmacists
- PR Newswire: CVS/Pharmacy and MinuteClinic to Provide H1N1 Vaccinations Coast to Coast
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Pharmacists
- Photo Credit prÃ©paratrices en pharmacie image by cÃ©dric chabal from Fotolia.com
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