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The job of a Pharmacist

The job of a Pharmacist
Photo: The job of a Pharmacist
A pharmacist is an Allied Health professional who prepares and dispenses medication.  They may work at a retail pharmacy or hospital pharmacy.  They can also work as an industrial pharmacist, taking part in the research and manufacture of new medications.

A pharmacist can choose to work at a governmental level, controlling and regulating medication.  There are also career options for academic pharmacists, who teach at university and specialise in research.

A medication review pharmacist visits nursing homes or the elderly at home and checks the patient’s medication to make sure that it is still suitable for them and can recommend if the medication should be changed.

As you can see, being a pharmacist doesn’t mean you only type labels on medications in a retail pharmacy!
Pharmacists can work closely with doctors and provide information and advice about specific medications to medical practitioners.  They can also explain to patients how a certain medication works, the appropriate dosage and how to take it.

If a pharmacist works at a pharmacy, they can advise customers who seek advice about a medical condition.  The pharmacist may be able to recommend an over the counter remedy that will take care of the problem, or advise if the person should see a doctor instead.

A hospital pharmacist can specialise in certain areas, such as drug information, paediatrics, oncology, infectious diseases, renal and cardiovascular.  They can also provide a telephone advice service regarding medication to rural areas.

A hospital pharmacist may also have to manufacture medication for patients, such as chemotherapy drugs or skin creams.  They might also visit patients in their home after they have been discharged from hospital, to ensure that the patient is taking the correct dosage of the correct medication.

A hospital pharmacist may even go around the hospital wards and personally dispense medication to the patients, explaining what it is, how it will help the patient, how much to take and when to take each dose.

How do you become a pharmacist?

You need to complete a four year Bachelor of Pharmacy degree course at university and once you’ve graduated, one year working under the supervision of an experienced pharmacist.  You’ll then be able to work as a qualified pharmacist.  You will need to register with the Pharmacy Board in the state you wish to work in once you’re qualified.

If you’re interested in working in the pharmaceutical industry but not as a pharmacist, you may prefer to complete a three year Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science instead.  Once you graduate, you won’t be able to work as a pharmacist, but you will be able to work in the biotechnology field or the drug research field.  If you complete a two year Master of Pharmacy degree following your three year undergraduate degree, you will be eligible to train under an experienced pharmacist and become qualified to work as a pharmacist.

So if you’re interested in chemistry and enjoy helping people and the community, then becoming a pharmacist might be a very rewarding career.

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