The basic definition of a pharmacist is an individual who dispenses prescription drugs to patients. But within that definition, there are many fields in which you can work, and the job responsibilities in each field can vary greatly depending on the setting. Pharmacy is a fast-growing career field. In 2008 pharmacists held about 269,900 jobs and, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in pharmacy is expected to grow 17 percent between 2008 and 2018, faster than the average for all other occupations. The growth rate, combined with the plethora of pharmacy fields to work in, make this a promising career choice.
Community pharmacists are the most common type of pharmacist. According to Purdue University, six out of every 10 pharmacists work in a community setting. Community pharmacists don’t just dispense drugs to customers; they also provide valuable advice and information concerning drug interactions, side effects, preventive medicine and general health. A community pharmacist may also give medical advice and refer you to a medical doctor or specialist if needed. Some community pharmacists are trained to dispense vaccinations to children and babies, and some may even provide specialized services to patients with certain conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.
Managed Care Pharmacy
A growing number of pharmacists are finding employment within managed-care organizations, or MCOs. This type of organization is one designed to maximize the quality of patient care through better coordination of health-care services. Most MCOs include pharmaceutical care in their profile, which is designed to allow patients greater access to medications and care. Responsibilities of a managed-care pharmacist include drug use evaluations, management of patients with diseases, development of drug therapy solutions, and claims processing.
Many pharmacists practice in health-care settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and hospices. Pharmacists in these settings become an essential part of the medical team and are directly involved with most aspects of patient care. Common areas of responsibility include dispensing medications, advising nurses and doctors on the correct dosages and combinations of drugs, and creating sterile liquid medications for intravenous use.
Educational Institution Pharmacy
According to the University of Purdue School of Pharmacy online, there are more than 3,000 faculty members employed in America’s colleges and schools of pharmacy. Faculty pharmacists are involved in all aspects of patient care, drug research and education. Becoming a pharmacist for a college or university usually requires a postgraduate degree or extended training such as a fellowship or period of residency. Faculty pharmacists are considered educators, and have a major responsibility to serve as role models for students and patients alike.
2016 Salary Information for Pharmacists
Pharmacists earned a median annual salary of $122,230 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, pharmacists earned a 25th percentile salary of $109,400, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $138,920, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 312,500 people were employed in the U.S. as pharmacists.