Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who dispense drugs and medication prescribed by physicians. They educate patients and physicians about prescriptions and how to administer them safely and effectively. All pharmacists must obtain a doctor of pharmacy degree and a license to practice professionally. Along with education and a license, pharmacists with specific personal qualities are most successful in their careers.
Attention to Detail
Because pharmacists fill prescriptions that can cause side effects and potentially harm patients, attention to detail is critical for pharmacists. They must choose correct prescriptions and fill them properly. There’s no room for error in this occupation, because a mistake can potentially cause an adverse effect in a patient. Pharmacists must ensure that their work is accurate at all times to protect the safety of patients who require prescription medication.
Pharmacists spend a majority of their time speaking to healthcare professionals and patients. They not only instruct patients regarding how to take medication, they assist healthcare professionals in selecting the appropriate medications for their patients. Effective communication skills are critical, both in person and on the phone. Pharmacists also direct other pharmacy personnel, such as technicians and interns. To successfully manage their staff, pharmacists must communicate effectively with them.
To properly prescribe medication, pharmacists must have strong analytical skills. They must be able to analyze a patient’s needs, understand potential side effects related to the drugs prescribed and ensure that patients can take the prescription without harm. When filling a prescription, a pharmacist must analyze the patient’s history of drugs taken and the healthcare professional’s diagnosis to ensure a patient’s safety.
Science and Mathematical Skills
Pharmacists must have natural abilities for science and mathematics, which are required for the job. Mathematics are used extensively in a pharmacist’s job to measure dosages, count pills, prepare medication and instruct patients on how to use medication. Strong skills in sciences, such as biology, chemistry and anatomy, are required to understand how drugs are composed and how the human body will react to those drugs.
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.