As with most jobs in the medical field, pharmacy offers a wide range of career paths for professionals to choose from. Every individual with a pharmacist’s degree does not end up working at the local drugstore dispensing prescriptions and offering sage advice.
There are many different types of pharmacy career paths including retail, clinical, educational, and technical. The path an individual pharmacist chooses really depends on his specific areas of interest. Thankfully, there is no right or wrong decision.
Retail Pharmacy Jobs
Retail pharmacy is what we most often think of when considering pharmacy jobs. In a retail setting the pharmacist works in a department store, grocery store, or standalone pharmacy. His job is to fill prescriptions and talk with patients about the proper use of their medications. Most of us are very familiar with retail pharmacists.
Occasionally a retail pharmacist will be one who owns his own store. In this sort of scenario the pharmacist is a business owner who also has to worry about hiring and training staff, maintaining inventory, and dealing with all sorts of government paperwork. The complexity of owning a pharmacy has greatly reduced the number of owner-operators in the United States over the last several decades.
Clinical Pharmacy Jobs
A clinical pharmacist is one who works in a hospital or long-term care facility. As a member of the hospital staff, the clinical pharmacist makes the rounds with his list of patients. He consults with doctors and nurses as well, then prescribes the proper medications and offers dispensing instructions. One of the benefits of having clinical pharmacists on staff is their ability to directly consult with patients regarding their reactions to certain medications.
In a long-term care facility clinical pharmacy jobs are similar, with the exception of a lower patient turnover rate. In these types of settings pharmacists get to know their patients more personally because their relationships are established for longer periods of time. As such, it takes a different kind of pharmacist to work in a long-term care facility.
Other Pharmacy Jobs
If direct patient work is not something a pharmacist isn’t interested in, he can pursue a career path in other fields. One of those fields is the area of education.
Obviously, medical schools need licensed pharmacists as members of the faculty. In this career path the pharmacist would primarily be an educator and counselor to med students planning to enter the pharmaceutical field. These jobs require pharmacists to continue their own education so they remain up to speed.
Another alternative pharmacy path is one of medical journalism. For example, all of the major news networks have their medical experts they call on every now and again for analysis of a particular story. These experts are medical doctors who work as journalists rather than in a clinical practice. Pharmacists are among these experts.
Other pharmacy jobs including regulatory compliance, consulting, and drug development are also available. It’s simply matter of finding what interests you and pursuing it.