Pharmacists compound and dispense prescribed pharmaceuticals and provide consultative services to both customers and healthcare providers. There are several types of Pharmacists with the most common being Industrial, Community, and Clinical Pharmacist. They are employed in retail and hospital pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, government departments and agencies, or they may be self-employed, in which case they’ll be owning a pharmacy. Pharmacists may also participate in the research, development, promotion, and manufacture of pharmaceutical products.
Pharmacists may provide advice on how to lead a healthy lifestyle, offer expertise in the safe use of prescriptions, conduct health and wellness screenings, provide immunizations, and oversee the medications given to patients.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Pharmacists are required to complete.
- Filling and dispensing prescribed pharmaceuticals to customers or to other healthcare professionals and advising them on indications, contraindications, adverse effects, drug interactions, and dosage:
- Compounding prescribed pharmaceutical products by calculating, measuring, and mixing the quantities of drugs and other ingredients required and filling appropriate containers with correct quantity;
- checking prescriptions for proper dosage; and
- implementing proper pricing.
- Making sure that customers or hospital patients get the right medicines and treatments in the right doses:
- Maintaining accurate medication profiles and records of customers including registry of poisons and narcotics, as well as controlled drugs;
- recording patients’ histories related to medicinal use;
- providing treatments and advice to patients; and
- completing insurance forms and working with insurance companies to ensure that patients get the medicines they need.
- Conducting health checks, carrying out procedures such as pregnancy tests, checking cholesterol and blood pressure, and screening for diabetes.
- Advising customers on selection and use of non-prescription medication.
- Ensuring proper preparation, packaging, distribution, and storage of vaccines, serums, biologicals, and other drugs and pharmaceuticals.
- Developing information materials concerning the uses, properties, and risks of particular drugs.
- Evaluating labelling, packaging, and advertising of drug products:
- Promoting pharmaceutical products to health professionals.
- Ordering and maintaining the pharmaceutical supplies stock.
- Supervising and coordinating the activities of other pharmacists, pharmacy assistants, pharmacy technicians, and other staff.
- Participating in research for the development of new drugs:
- Formulating new drug products developed by medical researchers;
- testing new drug products for stability and to determine absorption and elimination patterns;
- coordinating clinical trials of new drugs; and
- controlling the quality of drug products during production to ensure that they meet standards of potency, purity, uniformity, stability, and safety.
- Ensuring company or hospital standard operating procedures, policies, professional standards, and applicable laws and regulations are followed.
- Staying updated on pharmacy regulations, treatments, and developments in research and design:
- Having extensive knowledge about the effects and appropriate circumstances for giving out a specific medication.
- Filling prescriptions verifying instructions from Physicians on the dosage.
- Checking whether the prescription will interact negatively with other drugs that a patient or customer is taking, as well as taking into account their medical condition.
- Instructing patients on how and when to take a prescribed medicine and informing them about potential side effects they may experience from taking the medicine.
- Advising patients about general health topics and selection and use of non-prescription medication.
- Giving flu shots and, depending on the country or province, other vaccinations.
- Overseeing the work of pharmacy technicians and other staff.
The average Pharmacist salary is $91,807 per year or $47 per hour. This is around 2.8 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $64,000 while most experienced workers make up to $129,000. These results are based on 265 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding sales and managerial abilities.
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with customers, patients, and coworkers;
- displaying strong customer service skills, setting high standards of patient and customer care; and
- being a great team leader.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner using critical thinking and good judgment; and
- being able to analyze and assess customers’ needs.
- Organizational skills and great attention to detail:
- Being able to prioritize tasks and responsibilities; and
- providing medications safely and appropriately.
- Trustworthy enough to manage sensitive/confidential information.
Aside from the skills listed above, Pharmacists must be able to create a dialogue with customers or patients in order to provide excellent customer and patient service and to maximize their loyalty. Pharmacists are required to have a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy, as well as a licence to practice in the chosen province, at least one (1) year of experience in the area, and having completed an apprenticeship or internship program. They must also take continuing education courses throughout their career to keep up with the latest advances in pharmacological science. The completion of a hospital pharmacy residency or equivalent experience is always an asset.
With most drugs, Pharmacists use standard dosages from pharmaceutical companies. However, some pharmacists create customized medications by mixing ingredients themselves, a process known as compounding.
In Canada, with the exception of Québec, Pharmacists must complete a national board examination through the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC).
Pharmacists who have their own pharmacy or manage a chain pharmacy usually need to spend time on business activities, such as inventory management. These Pharmacists may choose to get a master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) in addition to their Pharmacy degree.
Working hours for Pharmacists can be irregular since pharmacies usually stay open beyond regular business hours, including weekends and holidays. Employees in large retail chains may work in shifts with defined schedules and rotations. However, pharmacists working in remote and outlying areas with insufficient resources will need to work beyond their scheduled hours.