Overview

Pharmacists are health professionals. They are the experts on medicine in the community. They have the skills and knowledge to help patients understand and use their medicines in the most appropriate way. While most pharmacists work in community and hospital pharmacies, many also work in primary healthcare environments (with general practitioners), government organisations, industry, medical writing, and academia. Opportunities for pharmacists are constantly growing as the healthcare sector changes to meet the needs of our communities. Pharmacy is a diverse and rewarding career, with opportunities for patient care, scientific research and innovation.

Pharmacist Responsibilities

What do pharmacists do? Pharmacists are essential healthcare professionals, who enhance patient care and promote wellness. While responsibilities vary among the different areas of pharmacy practice, the bottom line is that pharmacists help patients get well. A pharmacist’s professional commitment is to provide pharmaceutical care to their patients. The principal goal of pharmaceutical care is to achieve positive outcomes from the use of medication which improves patients’ quality of life with minimum risk.

Drug delivery and medication safety.

Delivering the right drug, identifying the correct dosage and times it is to be taken, labeling it clearly, and listing potential side effects are all part of the pharmacist’s well-known responsibilities. But today’s drugs are considerably more complex than they once were — and with genomes, biotechs and genetic compounding, drug therapy stands to grow even more individualized over the next ten years. The pharmacist’s role is concurrently expanding. Maximizing the safety of medications is an increasingly critical responsibility of our practice. Each new prescription demands that the pharmacist review it in conjunction with other information we have about the patient.

Patient education and advocacy.

It is the pharmacist’s task to be sure the patient knows the name of the drug, what it is for, how and when it is to be taken, how to minimize possible interactions with other drugs (prescription or OTC) and foods, and optimal storage.
Asking open-ended questions like “What has the doctor told you about this medication?” helps. But even where the prescriber or nurse has explained, the patient may not have heard or perhaps didn’t understand, making the pharmacist a critical checkpoint.

Monitoring drug therapy.

Pharmacists play a key role in helping patients maximize their pharmaceutical care. For example, it is estimated that up to fifty percent of all patients on medication for hypertension do not have their pressure under control because they lack regular follow-up. Pharmacists are ideally suited to track individuals on these medications and help them obtain proper follow-up.

Teaming with other health care providers.

Pharmacists do not work alone. We interact daily with physicians and, more often, with office nurses. We also work with PA’s, NP’s and other prescribers, including dentists and veterinarians. We regularly collaborate
with nursing home staffs, reviewing patient charts every month for drug interactions and adverse side effects.

Research and clinical studies.

People trust their local pharmacists. Our strong relationships in the community are newly appreciated by medical professionals. So much so that pharmacists now play a participating role in clinical studies. Increasingly, pharmacists are being recruited to do community-based research in the post-marketing surveillance of drugs.

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