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Pharmacists dispense medications prescribed by physicians and other authorized health care practitioners, according to their professional judgment.
Verify the validity of a prescription
Determine the identity, purity, and strength of medications
Compound and dispense medications, by calculating, weighing, measuring, and mixing drugs and other medicinal ingredients
Ensure that patients understand prescribed instructions
Provide information to prescribers, institutional clients, other health care professionals, and the public
Provide consultation to patients
Monitor the medication therapy of patients to prevent excessive usage or harmful interactions
Provide specialized services to help patients manage conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure
Keep comprehensive records to satisfy provisions of law
Store and preserve drugs which may deteriorate
Order and maintain a supply of pharmaceutical stock
Advise civic groups and other health professionals on rational use of drugs, precautions, and availability of medications
Offer a variety of health promotion and prevention activities
Teach in a college of pharmacy
Click here to watch Pharmacists at work!
Tools and equipment used may include:
Pharmacists may specialize in these areas:
074.161-010 COMMUNITY OR RETAIL PHARMACISTS perform a combination of professional, administrative, and managerial duties. In addition to dispensing medications and medical supplies, and consulting with consumers and other health professionals, they hire and supervise employees, keep business records, and oversee the general operation of the pharmacy.
074.161-010 HOSPITAL PHARMACISTS working in hospitals, clinics, or nursing homes may advise the medical staff on the selection and effects of drugs, perform administrative duties, teach in schools of nursing, and work in patient care areas as members of a medical team. They also may be engaged in the therapeutic monitoring of drug levels and the filling and compounding of orders for medications.
074.161-010 PHARMACISTS dispense medications prescribed by physicians and other authorized medical specialists.
074.161-014 RADIOPHARMACISTS prepare and dispense radioactive pharmaceuticals used for patient diagnosis and therapy, applying principles and practices of pharmacy and radiochemistry.
Pharmacists employed in industry may find positions in research and development of new drugs; in supervision of personnel, quality control, packaging, or employment opportunities as medical sales representatives who call on physicians and other health professionals to explain their products.
In addition to learning about these specialties, you may also find it helpful to explore the following Career Exploration Scripts:
Depending on their place of employment, Pharmacists may work alone, with other pharmacists, or as a member of a team of health care professionals. They may supervise pharmacy assistants and other employees and/or be supervised by a pharmacy owner, pharmacy director, or a more experienced Pharmacist.
Pharmacists generally work in pleasant, clean, well lighted and well ventilated surroundings. They may be exposed to such hazards as burns from acids, fumes from drugs, or skin disorders from contact with chemicals. The work does not require much physical effort; however, in many jobs, some must stand most of the day.
Despite the general trend toward shorter hours, many salaried pharmacists work an average of 44 hours per week and some work up to 60 hours. Those who teach or work for industry, government agencies, or hospitals may have shorter workweeks. However, Pharmacists working in hospitals might have evening and weekend shifts because some hospital pharmacies are open around the clock. Pharmacists often begin as employees in community pharmacies until they obtain the necessary experience and funds to become owners or part owners, if that is their career goal.
Pharmacists may belong to American Pharmacists Association , Michigan Pharmacists Association , and/or a local Pharmacists' association. Many hospital Pharmacists also belong to American Society of Health-System Pharmacists . Members of these organizations must pay membership fees.
You Should Prefer:
You Should Be Able To:
Math problem You Should Be Able to Solve:
The volume of base required to neutralize 10.0ml of 0.100N acid was 9.80ml. What is the normality of this base?
Reading Example You Should Be Able to Read and Comprehend:
Must be able to read and comprehend various classifications of drugs such as analgesics, bronchodilator, anthelmintic, anticholinergic, diuretics, emetics, and hypertensive.
Writing Example You Should Be Able to Produce:
Prepare a written analysis including purity and strength of vasotec tablets.
Thinking Skill You Should Be Able to Demonstrate:
Must be able to demonstrate excellent analytical skills when identifying and evaluating drugs.
All states require Pharmacists to be licensed. The State of Michigan also requires a license for this occupation. Click here for "Michigan Licensed Occupations," see Pharmacist and Pharmacist Intern for specific licensing information.
NOTE: At least 5 years of Postsecondary Study are required for a Bachelor's Degree (B.S. or B. Pharm.) from a School of Pharmacy. A few schools require Six years of Study and Confer the Pharm. Degree. Some colleges require Pre professional courses which may be taken at Community Colleges. Curriculum of most schools usually includes clinical practice under a licensed pharmacist. Most positions in research and education and some specializations in Hospital pharmacy require a Master's or Doctoral Degree.
The following education and preparation opportunities are helpful in preparing for occupations in this Career Exploration Script:
0600 BUSINESS , 0700 CAREERS , 0900 COMMUNICATIONS , 1000 COMPUTERS , 1100 ECONOMICS , 1500 FOODS & NUTRITION , 1800 HEALTH & HEALTH CAREERS , 2200 MATH , 2900 SCIENCE , 3000 SOCIAL STUDIES , 3300 TECHNOLOGY
***VOCATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS***
There are no Vocational Education Programs related to this Career Exploration Script.
Programs in Pharmacy provide opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills needed to prepare and dispense medications prescribed by physicians and other authorized medical specialists. Pharmacists work in a variety of business and health service settings.
Pharmacy programs will be basically the same at all schools. Some typical courses may include:
The most common requirements for entering a community college or private vocational school are a high school diploma, or GED, or being at least 18 years old and completing application forms. To enter a school of Pharmacy, which is a 3 or 4 year program, applicants must have completed at least 2 years of pre-pharmacy courses in accordance with the requirements of each specific college or university. Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) may be required.
There are no Apprenticeships related to this Career Exploration Script.
***MILITARY TRAINING PROGRAMS***
Please check the Military web site at http://www.myfuture.com .
Drugs and medicines are sometimes prescribed by doctors when treating patients in military hospitals and clinics. Pharmacists manage the purchasing, storing, and dispensing of drugs and medicines.
What They Do
Pharmacists in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
A 4-year college degree in pharmacy and a state license to practice pharmacy are required to enter this occupation.
Helpful attributes include:
Pharmacists work in hospitals and clinics on land and aboard ships.
Civilian pharmacists work for pharmacies, drug stores, and drug departments of stores and supermarkets. They also work for hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. They perform duties similar to those performed by military pharmacists. Civilian pharmacists who specialize in radioactive drugs (radioisotopes) are known as radio-pharmacists.
No initial job training is provided to officers in this occupation.
The exact number of pharmacists in the services is unknown. Each year, they need new pharmacists due to changes in the personnel and demand of the field. Newly commissioned pharmacists are assigned to military hospitals or clinics, where they manage daily operations. Positions for pharmacists in the Coast Guard are filled by U.S. Public Health Service Officers. In time, pharmacists plan and direct pharmacy or other health programs.
Because of the education and licensing requirements, there are few ways to explore this field. Students in a college of pharmacy may have co-op and internship opportunities. Military service may offer work related experiences as well.
School-to-Work opportunities include:
job shadowing experiences
touring a local Pharmacist employer
volunteer work with a Pharmacist employer
community service work with an agency
Pharmacists often enter this occupation by applying to hospitals, community pharmacies, or drug manufacturers.
Assistance may be found in college placement offices or the placement bureau of Michigan Pharmacists Association . In addition, you should access and search the Internet's on-line employment services sites such as:
You should also enter an electronic resume on these on-line services.
Earnings of Pharmacists depend on experience, training, field of practice, and the size and geographical location of their community.
Nationally, the annual salaries (2010) of Pharmacists who were employed by hospitals and related institutions were:
Median annual earnings of all Pharmacists were about $95,732 (2009). The median yearly earnings of "all" workers in the U.S. were $38,428 in 2009.
In VA Hospitals, the starting salary (2009) of Pharmacists was $96,914 annually. They may earn up to $141,867. The salaries of these federal government workers may be higher in some urban areas.
Pharmacists' average yearly wages in Michigan were (2010):
Pharmacists employed by the State of Michigan earned from $45,852 to $80,242 per year in late 2010. Pharmacist Managers earned $57,900 to $89,471 per year in late 2010.
Pharmacists employed by the City of Detroit had annual earnings ranging from $51,900 to $72,800 in 2010.
Salaried Pharmacists usually receive paid vacations, sick leave, life and hospitalization insurance, and discounts on personal purchases. The professional liability insurance of Pharmacists is paid by most employers. Self-employed Pharmacists must pay full costs of any benefits they have. Those employed in hospitals might also receive optical and dental plans.
Pharmacists who work in chain drugstores may advance to management positions and later to higher executive positions within the company. Hospital Pharmacists may advance to director of pharmacy services or other administrative positions if they have the necessary training and experience. Some Pharmacists may purchase their own pharmacies.
Nationally, about 269,900 Pharmacists were employed in 2008. Employment is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2018. The industry distribution for Pharmacists looked like this:
To find employers, click Employer/Business Locator.
Most pharmacies, especially retail, have computerized their pharmacy practices as the cost of computer systems declined. Such computerization has resulted in the increased productivity of Pharmacists, particularly in the areas of dispensing prescription drugs, purchasing and inventory control, and management. The growth in prepackaging of drugs by manufacturers, in direct-mail drug outlets, and in the selling of drugs directly to patients by their doctors will limit the employment growth of pharmacists. Furthermore, full-service e-pharmacies, such as Drugstore.com, are establishing web sites on the Internet and selling common drug store items, along with a full selection of prescription drugs. This may adversely impact the employment of Pharmacists at the traditional brick and mortar pharmacy retailer.
There are about 8,425 Pharmacists employed in Michigan. Many work in chain or independent pharmacies. Others work for hospitals, manufacturing companies and wholesale drug companies. Others work in a variety of other health-related sites such as physicians' offices, clinics, health maintenance organizations (HMO's), colleges and universities, and governmental agencies. Most Pharmacists work in urban areas.
Employment of Pharmacists in Michigan is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2018. An average of 280 openings will occur annually, with 100 due to growth and 180 to replacement of those who retire, die or leave the labor force for other reasons. Additional openings will occur as workers change jobs or occupations.
Population growth, increased life expectancy, greater demand for drugs, more extensive health care, and increased coverage of prescription drugs in health insurance programs will contribute to employment growth in this occupation. Pharmacies that provide specialized services in disease management such as diabetes, immunization, and cardio vascular related ailments had increase demand for pharmacists. Employment of Pharmacists in nursing homes and other health care facilities is expected to rise faster than in other places of employment.
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